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A Surface Mooring for Air–Sea Interaction Research in the Gulf Stream. Part I: Mooring Design and Instrumentation

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  • 1 Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Woods Hole, Massachusetts
  • | 2 University of Connecticut, Storrs, Connecticut
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Abstract

The design of a surface mooring for deployment in the Gulf Stream in the Mid-Atlantic Bight is described. The authors' goals were to observe the surface meteorology; upper-ocean variability; and air–sea exchanges of heat, freshwater, and momentum in and near the Gulf Stream during two successive 1-yr deployments. Of particular interest was quantifying these air–sea fluxes during wintertime events that carry cold, dry air from the land over the Gulf Stream. Historical current data and information about the surface waves were used to guide the design of the surface mooring. The surface buoy provided the platform for both bulk meteorological sensors and a direct covariance flux system. Redundancy in the meteorological sensors proved to be a largely successful strategy to obtain complete time series. Oceanographic instrumentation was limited in size by considerations of drag; and two current meters, three temperature–salinity recorders, and 15 temperature recorders were deployed. Deployment from a single-screw vessel in the Gulf Stream required a controlled-drift stern first over the anchor sites. The first deployment lasted the planned full year. The second deployment ended after 3 months when the mooring was cut by unknown means at a depth of about 3000 m. The mooring was at times in the core of the Gulf Stream, and a peak surface current of over 2.7 m s−1 was observed. The 15-month records of surface meteorology and air–sea fluxes captured the seasonal variability as well as several cold-air outbreaks; the peak observed heat loss was in excess of 1400 W m−2.

Corresponding author address: Robert A. Weller, Clark 204a MS 29, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Woods Hole, MA 02543. E-mail: rweller@whoi.edu

Abstract

The design of a surface mooring for deployment in the Gulf Stream in the Mid-Atlantic Bight is described. The authors' goals were to observe the surface meteorology; upper-ocean variability; and air–sea exchanges of heat, freshwater, and momentum in and near the Gulf Stream during two successive 1-yr deployments. Of particular interest was quantifying these air–sea fluxes during wintertime events that carry cold, dry air from the land over the Gulf Stream. Historical current data and information about the surface waves were used to guide the design of the surface mooring. The surface buoy provided the platform for both bulk meteorological sensors and a direct covariance flux system. Redundancy in the meteorological sensors proved to be a largely successful strategy to obtain complete time series. Oceanographic instrumentation was limited in size by considerations of drag; and two current meters, three temperature–salinity recorders, and 15 temperature recorders were deployed. Deployment from a single-screw vessel in the Gulf Stream required a controlled-drift stern first over the anchor sites. The first deployment lasted the planned full year. The second deployment ended after 3 months when the mooring was cut by unknown means at a depth of about 3000 m. The mooring was at times in the core of the Gulf Stream, and a peak surface current of over 2.7 m s−1 was observed. The 15-month records of surface meteorology and air–sea fluxes captured the seasonal variability as well as several cold-air outbreaks; the peak observed heat loss was in excess of 1400 W m−2.

Corresponding author address: Robert A. Weller, Clark 204a MS 29, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Woods Hole, MA 02543. E-mail: rweller@whoi.edu
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