Saildrone Mission: Update 2

The four TPOS Saildrones continue making their way to their main study area along the equator, near 140°W.  This mission is part of a series of Saildrone missions to the tropical Pacific, focusing on how this new technology could best be used within the Tropical Pacific Observing System (TPOS) to improve longterm weather forecasts.

LATEST HIGHLIGHTS
  • One Saildrone has broken off from the pack.  It has been sent on a more direct route to the equator, in order to get there faster, and cross in a more favorable location for winds and currents.
  • The other three Saildrones just completed a comparison around the TAO mooring at 9°N, 140°W.  While each boat successfully sailed a box around the anchor location, the Gen4 boat was slower, and struggled a bit more to navigate.  The two Gen5 boats, with their re-engineered wings, each made the box with no trouble.  What a difference a generation makes!  Watch a very short video of the drones sailing around the buoy on the mission blog.
  • Dr. Zhang has made initial comparisons of the met sensors on the TAO buoy with each of the Saildrones.  In the plots below, there is one panel per drone (SD-1005, SD-1029, SD-1030) for each parameter.
WHAT’S NEXT
  • The chance of El Nino developing is now forecast at 70 – 75%  and the TPOS Saildrones are positioning to make measurements right in the midst of it.
  • Three drones will sail past the TAO moorings at 5°N, 140°W and 2°N, 140°W.  They will pass within 5km of the anchor location at each site, but will not sail boxes around the buoys as originally planned.  This will save a small amount of time in getting to the primary work location near the equator.
  • The fourth Saildrone should be crossing the equator within the coming week.  Stay tuned next time for a diagram of the planned test pattern, to see how the drones will work together to map the area.
Thank you for your support and interest in this project.  We look forward to sharing future updates as the mission progresses.

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