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Jeffrey T. Sherman and Robert Pinkel

Abstract

Measurements of vertical shear and strain were acquired from the research platform FLIP during the PATCHEX experiment in October, 1986 (34°N, 127°W). Vertical sheer was shear from two separate Doppler sonar systems. A long-range sonar, with independent estimates every 18 m, sampled from 150–1200 m in depth. A short-range sonar measured fine-scale shear over 150–180 m depth, with 1.5 m vertical resolution. Vertical strain, ∂η/∂z, was estimated from two repeatedly profiling CTDs. These sampled to 560 m once every three minutes. The time variation of the strain field is monitored in both Eulerian (fixed-depth) and semi-Lagrangian (isopycnal-following) reference frames, from 150–406 m depth.

Eulerian vertical wavenumber-frequency (m, ω) spectra of vertical shear and strain exhibit a frequency dependency which is a strong function of wavenumber (ω−2–ω0 for m = 0.01–0.3 cpm). In contrast the semi-Lagrangian strain spectrum is more nearly separable in frequency and wavenumber, in closer agreement with the Garrett–Munk (GM) internal wave spectral model.

When a simulated GM shear field is vertically advected by a GM isopycnal displacement field, the resultant Eulerian vertical wavenumber–frequency spectrum exhibits the same qualitative, nonseparable, form as the PATCHEX shear spectrum: The dominant near-inertial waves are Doppler-shifted across all frequency bands, resulting in a “while” frequency spectrum at high wavenumbers. Measured ratios of Eulerian shear/strain variance support this interpretation. Higher shear-low strain variances (characteristic of near-inertial waves) are seen at high wavenumber, high encounter frequencies. The conclusion is that internal wave vertical self-advection strongly alters the observed frequency at high vertical wavenumbers in an Eulerian reference frame.

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Russ E. Davis and Jeffrey T. Sherman

Abstract

Neutral-buoyancy vehicles demand high-density energy sources and lithium is light with high oxidation energy. PolyPlus Battery Company has developed a prototype lithium-seawater battery that is attractive for powering long-duration autonomous oceanographic vehicles (floats and underwater gliders). These batteries were tested in the laboratory and at sea.

PolyPlus batteries use “Protected Lithium Electrodes” with proprietary “windows” protecting the volatile lithium anode from water while passing lithium ions. The cathode reduces oxygen dissolved in seawater, or hydrolyzes seawater to produce hydrogen. Not requiring additional electrolyte, fuel, or pressure cases, these cells have impressive weight advantages. Good electrode–seawater mass transfer is required but can increase drag and be impeded by biofouling.

Tests assessing robustness of the PolyPlus batteries in oceanographic use, evaluating mass transfer issues, and observing biofouling impacts are reported. In sea trials, two cells were tested for 69 days mounted on a Spray glider. Findings are as follows: 1) the cells were robust over 900 dives, most to 400 m; 2) without antifouling measures, the cells became substantially biofouled, but their performance was undiminished; and 3) performance was complex, depending on current density, oxygen concentration, and flow conditions. For dissolved oxygen concentration above 1 mL L−1, the cells delivered 9 W m−2 of electrode surface at 3 V. For low oxygen, the cell shifted to hydrolysis near 2.3 V, but mass transfer was less critical so current density could be increased and observed power reached 5 W m−2. This could be increased using a lower resistance load.

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Jeffrey T. Sherman and Russ E. Davis

Abstract

A new autonomous instrument collected 76 profiles of temperature microstructure over a ten-day period in the eastern subtropical North Atlantic as part of the North Atlantic Tracer Release Experiment. The data between 200-m and 350-m depth was used to determine the mean rate of temperature variance dissipation 〈χ〉. The estimated diapycnal diffusivity is Ky = 1.4×10−5 m2 s−1. The distribution of χ is approximately lognormal, suggesting that the 95% confidence limits on 〈χ〉 are ±4%. This uncertainty is less than that caused by the imperfectly known probe response, possible noise spikes on the probes, and variability in the degree of microstructure anisotropy; the latter two effects were estimated from a pair of closely spaced probes. Each of these uncertainties is about ±15%. Statistically significant low-frequency variability of χ is observed with 〈χ〉 decreasing by a factor of 2 between the first and second half of the observation. This low-frequency variability is likely the largest cause of error in estimating a seasonally averaged diapycnal diffusivity.

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Russ E. Davis, William S. Kessler, and Jeffrey T. Sherman

Abstract

“Spray” gliders, most launched from small boats near shore, have established a sustainable time series of equatorward transport through the Solomon Sea. The first 3.5 years (mid-2007 through 2010) are analyzed. Coast-to-coast equatorward transport through the Solomon Sea fluctuates around a value of 15 Sv (1 Sv ≡ 106 m3 s−1) with variations approaching ±15 Sv. Transport variability is well correlated with El Niño indices like Niño-3.4, with strong equatorward flow during one El Niño and weak flow during two La Niñas. Mean transport is centered in an undercurrent focused in the western boundary current; variability has a two-layer structure with layers separated near 250 m (near the core of the undercurrent) that fluctuate independently. The largest variations are in midbasin, confined to the upper layer, and are well correlated with ENSO. Analysis of velocity and salinity on isopycnals shows that the western boundary current within the Solomon Sea consists of a deep core coming from the Coral Sea and a shallow core that enters the Solomon Sea in mid basin. Analysis of the structure of transport and its fluctuations is presented.

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Daniel L. Rudnick, Jeffrey T. Sherman, and Alexander P. Wu

Abstract

The depth-average velocity is routinely calculated using data from underwater gliders. The calculation is a dead reckoning, where the difference between the glider’s velocity over ground and its velocity through water yields the water velocity averaged over the glider’s dive path. Given the accuracy of global positioning system navigation and the typical 3–6-h dive cycle, the accuracy of the depth-average velocity is overwhelmingly dependent on the accurate estimation of the glider’s velocity through water. The calculation of glider velocity through water for the Spray underwater glider is described. The accuracy of this calculation is addressed using a method similar to that used with shipboard acoustic Doppler current profilers, where water velocity is compared before and after turns to determine a gain to apply to glider velocity through water. Differences of this gain from an ideal value of one are used to evaluate accuracy. Sustained glider observations of several years off California and Palau consisted of missions involving repeated straight sections, producing hundreds of turns. The root-mean-square accuracy of depth-average velocity is estimated to be in the range of 0.01–0.02 m s−1, consistent with inferences from the early days of underwater glider design.

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Daniel L. Rudnick, Russ E. Davis, and Jeffrey T. Sherman

Abstract

Operational statistics for the Spray underwater glider are presented to demonstrate capabilities for sustained observations. An underwater glider is an autonomous device that profiles vertically by changing buoyancy and flies horizontally on wings. The focus has been on sustained observations of boundary currents to take advantage of the glider’s small size, which allows it to be deployed and recovered from small vessels close to land, and the fine horizontal resolution delivered by the glider, which is scientifically desirable in boundary regions. Since 2004, Spray underwater gliders have been deployed for over 28 000 days, traveling over 560 000 km, and delivering over 190 000 profiles. More than 10 gliders, on average, have been in the water since 2012. Statistics are given in the form of histograms for 297 completed glider missions of longer than 5 days. The statistics include mission duration, number of dives, distance over ground, and horizontal and vertical distance through water. A discussion of problems, losses, and short missions includes a survival analysis. The most extensive work was conducted in the California Current system, where observations on three across-shorelines have been sustained, with 97% coverage since 2009. While the authors have certain advantages as developers and builders of the Spray underwater glider and Spray may have design and construction advantages, they believe these statistics are a sound basis for optimism about the widespread future of gliders in oceanographic observing.

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Robert E. Todd, Daniel L. Rudnick, Jeffrey T. Sherman, W. Brechner Owens, and Lawrence George

Abstract

Doppler current profilers on autonomous underwater gliders measure water velocity relative to the moving glider over vertical ranges of O(10) m. Measurements obtained with 1-MHz Nortek acoustic Doppler dual current profilers (AD2CPs) on Spray gliders deployed off Southern California, west of the Galápagos Archipelago, and in the Gulf Stream are used to demonstrate methods of estimating absolute horizontal velocities in the upper 1000 m of the ocean. Relative velocity measurements nearest to a glider are used to infer dive-dependent flight parameters, which are then used to correct estimates of absolute vertically averaged currents to account for the accumulation of biofouling during months-long glider missions. The inverse method for combining Doppler profiler measurements of relative velocity with absolute references to estimate profiles of absolute horizontal velocity is reviewed and expanded to include additional constraints on the velocity solutions. Errors arising from both instrumental bias and decreased abundance of acoustic scatterers at depth are considered. Though demonstrated with measurements from a particular combination of platform and instrument, these techniques should be applicable to other combinations of gliders and Doppler current profilers.

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Dean Roemmich, Jeffrey T. Sherman, Russ E. Davis, Kyle Grindley, Michael McClune, Charles J. Parker, David N. Black, Nathalie Zilberman, Sarah G. Purkey, Philip J. H. Sutton, and John Gilson

Abstract

Deployment of Deep Argo regional pilot arrays is underway as a step toward a global array of 1250 surface-to-bottom profiling floats embedded in the upper-ocean (2000 m) Argo Program. Of the 80 active Deep Argo floats as of July 2019, 55 are Deep Sounding Oceanographic Lagrangian Observer (SOLO) 6000-m instruments, and the rest are composed of three additional models profiling to either 4000 or 6000 m. Early success of the Deep SOLO is owed partly to its evolution from the Core Argo SOLO-II. Here, Deep SOLO design choices are described, including the spherical glass pressure housing, the hydraulics system, and the passive bottom detection system. Operation of Deep SOLO is flexible, with the mission parameters being adjustable from shore via Iridium communications. Long lifetime is a key element in sustaining a global array, and Deep SOLO combines a long battery life of over 200 cycles to 6000 m with robust operation and a low failure rate. The scientific value of Deep SOLO is illustrated, including examples of its ability (i) to observe large-scale spatial and temporal variability in deep ocean temperature and salinity, (ii) to sample newly formed water masses year-round and within a few meters of the sea floor, and (iii) to explore the poorly known abyssal velocity field and deep circulation of the World Ocean. Deep SOLO’s full-depth range and its potential for global coverage are critical attributes for complementing the Core Argo Program and achieving these objectives.

Open access
Yuichiro Takeshita, Brent D. Jones, Kenneth S. Johnson, Francisco P. Chavez, Daniel L. Rudnick, Marguerite Blum, Kyle Conner, Scott Jensen, Jacqueline S. Long, Thom Maughan, Keaton L. Mertz, Jeffrey T. Sherman, and Joseph K. Warren

Abstract

The California Current System is thought to be particularly vulnerable to ocean acidification, yet pH remains chronically undersampled along this coast, limiting our ability to assess the impacts of ocean acidification. To address this observational gap, we integrated the Deep-Sea-DuraFET, a solid-state pH sensor, onto a Spray underwater glider. Over the course of a year starting in April 2019, we conducted seven missions in central California that spanned 161 glider days and >1600 dives to a maximum depth of 1000 m. The sensor accuracy was estimated to be ± 0.01 based on comparisons to discrete samples taken alongside the glider (n = 105), and the precision was ±0.0016. CO2 partial pressure, dissolved inorganic carbon, and aragonite saturation state could be estimated from the pH data with uncertainty better than ± 2.5%, ± 8 μmol kg−1, and ± 2%, respectively. The sensor was stable to ±0.01 for the first 9 months but exhibited a drift of 0.015 during the last mission. The drift was correctable using a piecewise linear regression based on a reference pH field at 450 m estimated from published global empirical algorithms. These algorithms require accurate O2 as inputs; thus, protocols for a simple predeployment air calibration that achieved accuracy of better than 1% were implemented. The glider observations revealed upwelling of undersaturated waters with respect to aragonite to within 5 m below the surface near Monterey Bay. These observations highlight the importance of persistent observations through autonomous platforms in highly dynamic coastal environments.

Open access