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NOAA's Integrated Ocean Observing System Program

podcastLearn more about the Scarlet Knight (interview with Zdenka Willis, program director for NOAA's Integrated Ocean Observing System) Making Waves (audio podcast)

external link"Mission to Cross the Atlantic Ocean," Coastal Ocean Observation Lab, Institute of Marine and Coastal Sciences

Glider Completes First-Ever Ocean Crossing

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The future of deep-water oceanography? The Scarlet Knight, the first unmanned ocean glider to cross an ocean.
(Image courtesy of Rutgers University)

On December 9, officials from NOAA joined scientists from Rutgers University and other overseas institutions in a celebration highlighting the first-ever trans-Atlantic ocean crossing of an unmanned, underwater glider.

The historic event took place in Baiona, Spain—the town to which Christopher Columbus' crew returned after his 1492 voyage to the New World.

The glider, launched off the coast of New Jersey last April, repeatedly dove to depths of 200 meters (656 feet) to collect data including temperature, salinity, and density. Scientists correlate these data with those from satellite imagery and altimetry, sea-floor and buoy-mounted sensors, and radar systems to get a more detailed view of a particular patch of ocean in near real time.

The success of this mission marks a milestone in ocean observing and signifies the opening of new frontiers in ocean observing technology. The glider journey demonstrates the ability to accomplish for deep-water oceanography what has already been achieved along the continental shelf.

The glider achievement is a partnership effort among the U.S. Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS®) through Rutgers University, as well as NOAA, Puertos del Estado (The Spanish Port Authority), the National Ocean Partnership Program, and other European partners.