Fishing For Vortices

By on February 7, 2016

Nathan Laxague

Salutations, blog-readers. The truth is out there!


The past several days have been a finishing-up of sorts. We finished assembling drifters. We finished the Aerostat drift-card imaging. We finished the large-scale drifter deployments.

The final Aerostat observations were, like their Phase 2 predecessors that I missed, aimed at getting near-surface currents from the motions of bamboo drift cards. These measurements represent a crucial piece of the LASER mission, especially as they relate to near-surface material transport.


During this stretch of time, my group made full use of the opportunity and gathered as much short ocean wave data as possible in addition to our usual complement of air-sea flux information. All of this information will eventually assist in the reconstruction of flows above and below the air-sea interface, a piece planted firmly in the small-scale end of the LASER scientific scope.


When the sun began to set, the cameras were turned off and the Aerostat was brought down. We were transitioning into the final stage of LASER. Flurries of e-mails were exchanged, all about the deployment site and grid scheme for our remaining payload of ~300 GPS-tracked drifters. The site chosen housed a number of interesting features, chief among which was the cold filament of water that had mushroomed into a mass of warm water and began to spin off 10km-scale vortices. This valuable information didn’t just fall out of the sky- it was collected via infrared sensor-equipped airplane by Jeroen Molemaker’s UCLA crew. For the deployment scheme, we settled on a “radiator” pattern that swept back-and-forth across part of the filament and centered itself on the main vortex. Approximately 11 hours into the overnight, 14-hour of deployment, we were left with this:

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Which, at the time of this writing, looks a bit more like this:


The drifters east-southeast of the Mississippi River delta (under the orange plane triangles) were the ones we cast away last night. It’s difficult to convey much information this early, but the data collected by these drifters will shed a good deal of light on these dynamic submesoscale features that are so important in transporting material. At this point, both research vessels are going to once again take Bob Dylan’s advice and seek shelter from the storm (likely by the delta).

Nathan Laxague, signing off somewhere between missing breakfast and losing lunch.

Back in the Saddle

By on February 4, 2016

Nathan Laxague Howdy, folks. The R/V F.G. Walton Smith and I have reunited in the so-called Port of Gulfport. Also back is the Masco VIII, and with it the components of our final payload of GPS-equipped drifters (pay no attention to the

Phase 2 Update, Bogucki Group

By on February 2, 2016

Francis I have been aboard the R/V F.G. Walton smith now for 10 days.  It has been a wild experience for me and my team here from Texas A&M-Corpus Christi.  Through it all we have had some solid days of

Phase Shift

By on January 25, 2016

Nathan Laxague Ahoy, CARTHE blog devotees. Long days and spotty internet conspired to pinch the blog stream down to a trickle. Now that I’m back on land and flush with bandwidth, I’ll give you an update of what happened the

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Anglers: Please leave drifters in the water

By on January 25, 2016

Scientists with the Consortium for Advanced Research on Transport of Hydrocarbon in the Environment (CARTHE) are currently (Jan 15-Feb 15, 2016) conducting an experiment in the northern Gulf of Mexico using biodegradable, surface drifters/buoys.  If you see these, please leave them in the water.

Another Day In Paradise

By on January 18, 2016

Nathan Laxague Ho there, LASER blog followers- On Saturday morning, it was decided that the R/V F.G. Walton Smith would hole up in Key West for the night (and for Sunday as well). The deciding factor? Well, it wasn’t Duval Street.

All Dressed Up And Nowhere To Go

By on January 15, 2016

Nathan Laxague The LAgrangian Submesoscale ExpeRiment (LASER, for those following at home) kicked off not with a bang, but a whimper. At the time of this writing, the R/V F.G. Walton Smith is somewhere off the middle Keys, dressed to

Loading Day 2 (T-1)

By on January 14, 2016

With roughly 10 tons of equipment divided between the two ships we are using for LASER, it took over two days to load everything onto 1) the R/V Walton Smith and 2) the shipping containers headed for the Masco8 (Key

Loading day 1 (T-2)

By on January 13, 2016

It’s Loading Day!  Today felt much like moving day with a definite sense of excitement about what is to come, but also a lot of coordination and hard work.  The LASER team in Miami began the process of loading drifters, drift

Student drifters selected and ready for LASER (T-3)

By on January 12, 2016

High school students from across South Florida were challenged by CARTHE to design, build, and test their own surface current drifters.  Three programs took on this challenge and the results are impressive! Students from South Broward High School, iTech Magnet