The year of the pandemic has been challenging for everyone. When the Department of Marine and Coastal Sciences‘ COOLroom was formed, one goal was to develop an automated system that minimized the amount of time humans need to be at sea to collect ocean data and use it to educate our future generations. Given social distancing and safety considerations, COVID-19 provided a test of the resilience of the COOL network. Throughout the pandemic, the network continued to collect data using satellites, HF-Radar, gliders, and meteorological instruments, which fueled ocean and atmospheric models.
During the unprecedented 2020 hurricane season, Rutgers University Center for Ocean Observing Leadershipo (RUCOOL) expanded its leadership role in efforts to improve hurricane intensity forecasts using Slocum gliders. Specifically, we contributed and coordinated glider data delivery in the Mid-Atlantic and Caribbean Sea to ocean models linked to the National Weather Service’s atmospheric forecast models. NOAA’s Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS) Mid-Atlantic Regional Association Coastal Ocean Observing System (MARACOOS) continues to be the foundation for funding this research, but we are now working with over 40 academic, industry, and government partners from the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic Bight. Research highlights this year:
- Working with NOAA’s Environmental Monitoring Center (EMC), RUCOOL continued to use glider data to evaluate the nation’s operational and experimental ocean models coupled to hurricane intensity forecast models. We’ve found that the experimental systems, which ingest glider and other observational data, represent ocean features more accurately, and better represented hurricane intensity in 2019. This has led to the transition of this experimental system into operations starting in Fall 2020. This research, covering 13 named storms, was detailed in our RUCOOL Hurricane Blog.
- RUCOOL has been working with NOAA EMC to incorporate Rutgers Regional Ocean Modeling System (ROMS) into the National Weather Service’s United Forecasting System, which will enable the ROMS ocean model to better inform NOAA’s hurricane forecast models.
- Rutgers and its MARACOOS partners deployed 18 gliders during the 2020 hurricane season, all of which contributed data to the operational models that weather forecasters all over the world leverage for forecasts. In addition, Rutgers deployed and recovered two US Navy Gliders off the central NJ coast. The work between Rutgers and the Navy is expected to continue and even expand during the 2021 hurricane season.
- RUCOOL kicked off the new Caribbean CORREDORES glider mission, which is supported by the Vetelsen Foundation. This effort is designed to use underwater gliders to sample ocean heat transport in the Caribbean Sea in collaboration with a broad set of international partners. This activity is being coordinated as a contribution to the first year of the UN Ocean Decade.
- RUCOOL is maintaining and expanding its leadership throughout the weather forecasting community with Travis Miles and Scott Glenn contributing in a broad array of leadership roles. This includes Travis Miles co-leading an observations sub-committee of the NOAA Extreme Events Ocean Observation Task Team and participating as a regional representative of the NOAA Hurricane Gliders team.
This story was originally published as part of RUCOOL’s 2020 Annual Report.