Glider Piloting with Jen: All Systems Go!

December 17, 2019

NOAA scientists deploy three underwater gliders to gather important data on Antarctic krill.

A research glider is deployed from the back of the ship.

A research glider is deployed from the back of the ship.

Last December, our U.S. Antarctic Marine Living Resources Program took a huge chance with our research program. We replaced a team of 20 seagoing scientists with two seagoing robots. These robots, called gliders, spent three months diving in the Southern Ocean around the Antarctic Peninsula. They gather critical information about Antarctic krill, which feed thousands of seals, penguins, whales, and fish. The risk paid off, and our first glider season was a resounding success.

Now it’s time for our second season, and the fear of being a one-hit wonder is palpable. Ask Right Said Fred or Vanilla Ice: just because something happens once, doesn’t mean it’ll happen again. This year, the stakes are even higher as we prepare to deploy three gliders (gulp!) in just a few days.

My name is Jen, and I am biochemist-turned-glider-pilot. I invite you to climb inside my head for this field season and follow our glider fleet from a pilot’s perspective. My co-pilots and I are setting out to navigate the tricky waters of the Southern Ocean. We’ll attempt to guide our gliders straight into a second successful field season (and hopefully not straight into an iceberg!). I’ll highlight how we use glider data to study krill, but the most exciting part will be following the gliders themselves.

I hope you’ll join me!

Next: Glider Piloting with Jen: The Things We Do for Science…

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