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Drifters, Bamboo Plates Reveal Gulf Of Mexico Current Insights

By Daniel Kelly on May 20, 2016
(Enviromental Monitor)

In 2012, we watched as scientists with the Consortium for Advanced Research on Transport of Hydrocarbon in the Environment (CARTHE), funded by the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative (GoMRI), launched hundreds of GPS-equipped drifters into the Gulf to track their movements. This was part of the Grand Lagrangian deployment, or GLAD, which was the largest of its kind ever at the time.

The researchers gleaned a lot of information on the movements of currents in the Gulf of Mexico, with an eye toward better understanding how the shifts can impact the transport of oil spills. Data from the effort were plugged into models, which have provided new insights for forecasting the transport of pollutants in the Gulf as well as helping first responders, like the U.S. Coast Guard, who seek to know more about the area’s currents for improved search-and-rescue missions.

Toward the end of that effort, scientists told us that they were working to develop biodegradable drifters to replace the ones they had been using. Fast forward to 2016 and that idea is fully functional in reality and central to a more recent experiment that researchers with CARTHE and their partners have completed in the Gulf: the LASER experiment, for LAgrangian Submesoscale ExpeRiment.

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