Three autonomous ocean drones will sail the Gulf Stream during six harsh winter months collecting climate data. Previously, strong winter currents and fierce storms have prevented high-quality data collection, forcing reliance on models yielding uncertain results. With these drones, scientists now have access to these regions.
Saildrone uncrewed surface vehicles (USVs) feature wind-powered propulsion technology, solar-powered meteorological and oceanographic sensors, and long-range autonomous sailing capabilities. The USVs assist in mapping remote oceans and collecting climate data, such as collecting live footage inside a category four hurricane and circumventing Antarctica.
“We collected as many ocean CO2 measurements in the Gulf Stream for the month of February as had ever been recorded in the entire history of oceanography,” said Jaime Palter, a carbon scientist and a co-principal investigator of the mission.
These drones provide access to remote, hazardous regions and rapidly increase the rate of data collection. Scientists will be able to improve forecasting models countries rely on to lower carbon emissions and better understand global weather patterns and climate.