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. They are designed to drift with the ocean currents for several months so the researchers can learn more about the currents in the Gulf of Mexico. The data will then be put into computer models in an effort to better understand how the currents in this area form and how they transport oil, other pollutants, fish, and even people lost at sea.
The LAgrangian Submesoscale ExpeRiment (LASER) is the third CARTHE experiment since 2012, as well as the largest, featuring 2 research vessels, 3 planes, 1000 biodegradable drifters, 10,000 biodegradable drift cards, and a variety of sensors. Each time, the team asks new questions and uses new techniques for measuring the movement of the water in the Gulf.
CARTHE is funded by the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative (GoMRI) for the purpose of studying oil spills and their impact on the Gulf’s delicate ecosystems. They are dedicated to predicting the fate of oil released into our environment to help inform and guide response teams, thereby protecting and minimizing damage to human health, the economy, and the environment.
To learn more about this experiment, please visit http://carthe.org/laser/.