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Spring 2024 Glider update

Apr 29, 2024

Thilo Klenz prepares to deploy underwater gliders in Resurrection Bay, while R/V Nanuq’s Captain Brian Mullaly affixes a cell booster antenna. Photo by Hank Statscewich.

It’s going to be a very busy season for the Glider Operations Team at the University of Alaska Fairbanks College of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences! They are excited to further push the boundaries of ocean research with these technological wonders.

The team continues to monitor the state of the spring bloom in the Gulf of Alaska as part of the Gulf Patrol project. In March and April, a glider named Shackleton collected information on ocean temperature, salinity, light availability, and chlorophyll concentrations on the continental shelf. At the same time that Shackleton worked 75 miles southeast of Seward, a glider named Gretel collected similar measurements 112 miles further offshore in the deep waters of the North Pacific. Together these robots will provide an unprecedented comparison of one of the most important biological events of the year – the spring phytoplankton bloom– on the shelf versus the deep sea. 

In early May, the team will regroup in Seward and begin preparing four additional gliders for upcoming missions. One glider will be used to collect optical images of plankton in the Gulf and Bering Sea. Another will travel through the Bering Strait to Utqiaġvik, listening for marine mammal vocalizations. A third will be used to run transects between Yakutat and Seward, and another will replace Shackleton monitoring the continental shelf ecosystem. 

Real-time feeds of data collected by the gliders can be viewed on the AOOS Ocean data portal. Throughout the season, different missions can be found by typing “gliders” in the search bar.