Monitoring the Extent of the Dead Zone in the Gulf of Mexico with Gliders
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The Gulf of Mexico Coastal Hypoxia Glider Experiment was designed to test the feasibility of using ocean glider technology in the coastal hypoxic zone of the northern Gulf of Mexico between 10 July and 1 October 2014. The objectives were 1) to coordinate and operate multiple autonomous buoyancy ocean gliders and 2) to test methodologies and strategies for objective mapping of the hypoxic zone. The coastal area of the northern Gulf of Mexico is characterized by strong vertical and horizontal stratification gradients, strong coastal currents, and low oxygen conditions that occur within the lower water column. These environmental conditions combine with the presence of more than 5,000 surface piercing oil/gas structures to make piloting and navigation in the region challenging. I present preliminary observations of the experiment to quantify glider performance (forward speed, vertical cycling (yo) frequency, distance above bottom, and ability to navigate between waypoints). Science data (CTD (conductivity, temperature, and depth), ECOPUCK (chlorophyll and CDOM (colored dissolved organic matter) fluorometer), and Rinko dissolved oxygen) were plotted and analyzed, showing that the gliders consistently came within 1.6 meters of the ocean bottom. The pycnocline, below which hypoxia occurs, was successfully found by each of the gliders, demonstrating that this 1.6 meter distance gives sufficient water column data to monitor coastal hypoxia.
Subjectglider, hypoxia, Gulf of Mexico
Ramey, Frances Elizabeth (2015). Monitoring the Extent of the Dead Zone in the Gulf of Mexico with Gliders. Honors and Undergraduate Research. Available electronically from