Rutgers Coastal Ocean Observation Laboratory a Worldwide Clearinghouse for Data Collected from Gliders in Gulf Coast

Rutgers Coastal Ocean Observation Laboratory a Worldwide Clearinghouse for Data Collected from Gliders in Gulf Coast


A submersible robot glider flying underwater.
Forecasters and modelers around the world will be able to use data generated by submersible robot gliders tracking the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, thanks to the Rutgers Coastal Ocean Observation Laboratory, part of the Institute of Marine and Coastal Sciences in the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences. 

At the request of the Integrated Ocean Observing System, part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, RU-COOL is acting as a clearinghouse for data collected by all the gliders being deployed in the Gulf. John Kerfoot, the lab’s software director, has arranged for researchers at all the participating institutions to be able to see each other’s data simultaneously. Kerfoot is packaging the data for NOAA’s National Buoy Data Center, which in turn will send it to the World Meteorological Organization’s Global Telecommunications System. That means that forecasters and modelers will be able to build that data into their models as soon as it’s generated. 

RU-COOL software director John Kerfoot at work.
One Rutgers glider, the RU21, has already been deployed, and another, the RU23, is on its way to Florida for deployment after Memorial Day, according to Kerfoot. The RU21 and RU 23 are joined by other Slocum Electrics from the Mote Marine Laboratory and the University of South Florida. A Slocum Electric from the University of Delaware, the Blue Hen, is on its way to Florida and also will be deployed after Memorial Day, Kerfoot says. The Scripps Institute of Oceanography at the University of California-San Diego and the University of Washington are deploying deepwater gliders, further off shore. 

All the Slocum Electrics carry fluorometers in their science bays. Fluorometers measure the light emitted – the fluorescence – of the water as the glider travels through it. The fluorometer can be programmed to detect emissions of particular colors so scientists can deduce what kind of chemicals produced the emissions. 

What the scientists at Mote, Rutgers, and the other institutions are looking for are toxic chemical components of oil called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, or PAHs. 

As of May 29, none of the gliders has detected any oil threatening the Gulf coast of Florida.

Media Contact: Ken Branson
732-932-7084, ext. 633