Other Media Resources

Text Size

Research Expedition to Explore Ocean Salinity, Climate - Briefing Materials
 
NASA-funded researchers are making final preparations at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) in Woods Hole, Mass., for an ocean-going campaign designed to shed new light on the link between ocean salinity and shifts in global precipitation patterns.

The research voyage is part of a multi-year mission called the Salinity Processes in the Upper Ocean Regional Study (SPURS). The new data also will help calibrate the salinity measurements NASA's Aquarius instrument has been collecting from space. SPURS scientists aboard the research vessel Knorr leave Sept. 6 from Woods Hole. The researchers will spend about three weeks deploying instruments and taking measurements before sailing to the Azores to complete the voyage on Oct. 9. For more information on SPURS, contact Steve Cole at stephen.e.cole@nasa.gov or Stephanie Murphy at samurphy@whoi.edu.

› Related feature story



Briefing Panelists
  • Raymond Schmitt, senior scientist, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
  • Dave Fratantoni, associate scientist, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
  • Eric Lindstrom, physical oceanography program scientist, NASA Headquarters
› Download briefing slides: PDF | PPT


Raymond Schmitt


IMAGE 1 SPURS presentation slide screen capture
IMAGE 2 SPURS presentation slide screen capture The Salinity Processes in the Upper Ocean Regional Study (SPURS) research cruise will study a spot known as the Atlantic surface salinity maximum, located halfway between the Bahamas and the western coast of North Africa.

IMAGE 3 SPURS presentation slide screen capture One of the most worrisome impacts of climate change is a possible acceleration of the global water cycle leading to more frequent droughts and floods.

IMAGE 4 SPURS presentation slide screen capture The ocean retains a better record of changes in precipitation than the land, and translates these changes into variations in the salt concentration of its surface waters.

IMAGE 5 SPURS presentation slide screen capture The salty areas of the ocean are getting saltier, while fresh areas are getting fresher. This indicates a strong intensification of the water cycle over the last decades.

IMAGE 6 SPURS presentation slide screen capture The changes in global ocean salinity are larger than what climate models can explain. SPURS is designed to investigate this discrepancy and examine the oceanic processes influencing surface salinity.

IMAGE 7 SPURS presentation slide screen capture


Dave Fratantoni


IMAGE 8 SPURS presentation slide screen capture
IMAGE 9 SPURS presentation slide screen capture The Research Vessel Knorr will serve as a platform for temperature, salinity, and meteorological measurements in addition to transporting a large fleet of robotic vehicles to the SPURS site in the tropical Atlantic.

IMAGE 10 SPURS presentation slide screen capture Researchers will deploy an array of three oceanographic moorings at the SPURS site for a year: the WHOI surface flux mooring will measure meteorological parameters and fluxes between the ocean and atmosphere, while two NOAA profiling crawler (“prawler”) moorings will obtain meteorological observations and serial profiles along the mooring wire.

IMAGE 11 SPURS presentation slide screen capture Satellite-tracked surface drifters will track water movement. SPURS will deploy profiling floats, modified from those used in the global Argo program to measure near-surface salinity, wind speed, and rain rate, and Lagrangian (free-floating) drifters equipped with multiple sensors to accurately track three-dimensional water movement.

IMAGE 12 SPURS presentation slide screen capture SPURS will use several types of autonomous underwater vehicles. Two propeller-driven IVER2/Ecomapper vehicles will conduct short-term and small-scale surveys of salinity features. Two buoyancy-driven Slocum Gliders equipped with microstructure sensors will observe the intensity of ocean mixing. Three high-endurance, buoyancy-driven Seagliders will measure temperature, salinity, and microstructure in a 93-mi (150-km) box surrounding the SPURS moorings for a year.

IMAGE 13 SPURS presentation slide screen capture Three sun-powered wave gliders equipped to measure temperature, salinity, and meteorological conditions will occupy a 62-mi (100-km) region near the SPURS moored array for a year.

IMAGE 14 SPURS presentation slide screen capture SPURS will use a nested observational strategy: expendable devices and ships-of-opportunity will collect temperature and salinity measurements over a wide geographic area in the central tropical Atlantic. Moorings and small fleets of robotic vehicles will provide a sustained year-long presence in a smaller observational area. During research cruises, ship-deployed platforms will make high-resolution measurements of even smaller oceanographic features.


Eric Lindstrom


IMAGE 15 SPURS presentation slide screen capture
IMAGE 16
(Credit: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center)
› Download video (31 MB mov)

IMAGE 17 SPURS presentation slide screen capture NASA's Aquarius instrument has been collecting ocean surface salinity measurements from space since August 2011 and using data from Argo, a global array of thousands of drifting profiling floats measuring the temperature and salinity of the upper layers of the ocean, for comparison and validation.

IMAGE 18 SPURS presentation slide screen capture The data collected by the SPURS devices will be relayed via satellite to shore and integrated with numerical ocean models and satellite observations.

IMAGE 19
(Credit:Dave Fratantoni, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)
› Download video (70 MB mov)