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Top Story

Wave Glider surfs across stormy Drake Passage in Antarctica

In December, the University of Washington sent a robotic surf board to ride the waves collecting data from Antarctica to South America. The Wave Glider, a long-duration ocean robot designed to operate in stormy conditions and high latitudes, can stay at sea for months, patrolling for illegal fishing, listening for seismic events, collecting weather or ocean data and monitoring the environment. The Southern Ocean is key to Earth’s climate, but the same gusting winds, big waves and strong currents that are important to ocean physics make it perilous for oceanographers. Instead, their job is increasingly being given to ocean drones, the autonomous floating vehicles that collect data from the world’s oceans. With an urgent need to better understand climate to predict how it will shift with more heat-trapping gases, scientists are developing new tools to measure waters below where satellites can penetrate and in places that are too dangerous or expensive to reach regularly by research ship. They are also sending those instruments on increasingly ambitious missions.

Visit Website | Image credit: Avery Snyder/University of Washington