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Profiling ALACEs and Other Advances in Autonomous Subsurface Floats

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  • 1 Scripps Institution of Oceanography, La Jolla, California
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Abstract

Over the past decade more than 1200 autonomous floats have been deployed worldwide. In addition to velocity as marked by lateral movement, many of these floats measured quantities like profiles of temperature and salinity, temperature microstructure, and time series of vertical velocity. The authors' laboratory's implementation of profile measurements in what is called a Profiling Autonomous Lagrangian Circulation Explorer is described. Biofouling and degradation of antifouling coatings on the conductivity sensor both cause drifts that mean accurate salinity measurements will depend on corrections based on known temperature–salinity relations. A second generation autonomous float called the Sounding Oceanographic Lagrangian Observer (SOLO) has been developed to provide enhanced reliability and to provide complete two-way depth control. A dual hydraulic-pneumatic buoyancy system reduces the energy cost of vertical cycling and buoyancy generation at the surface. A SOLO Vertical Current Meter has been found capable of measuring vertical velocity with errors of O(3 m day−1) on month timescales.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Russ E. Davis, Physical Oceanography Research Division, 0230, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, 9500 Gilman Dr., La Jolla, CA 92093-0230. Email: rdavis@ucsd.edu

Abstract

Over the past decade more than 1200 autonomous floats have been deployed worldwide. In addition to velocity as marked by lateral movement, many of these floats measured quantities like profiles of temperature and salinity, temperature microstructure, and time series of vertical velocity. The authors' laboratory's implementation of profile measurements in what is called a Profiling Autonomous Lagrangian Circulation Explorer is described. Biofouling and degradation of antifouling coatings on the conductivity sensor both cause drifts that mean accurate salinity measurements will depend on corrections based on known temperature–salinity relations. A second generation autonomous float called the Sounding Oceanographic Lagrangian Observer (SOLO) has been developed to provide enhanced reliability and to provide complete two-way depth control. A dual hydraulic-pneumatic buoyancy system reduces the energy cost of vertical cycling and buoyancy generation at the surface. A SOLO Vertical Current Meter has been found capable of measuring vertical velocity with errors of O(3 m day−1) on month timescales.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Russ E. Davis, Physical Oceanography Research Division, 0230, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, 9500 Gilman Dr., La Jolla, CA 92093-0230. Email: rdavis@ucsd.edu

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