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UM Scientists Develop Eco-Friendly Ocean Instruments for Oil Spill Research

March 14, 2018

New studies detail the design and deployment of biodegradable ocean drifter for large-scale sampling experiments

MIAMI—Studying small-scale ocean currents is important to understand how pollutants like oil and micro-plastics, or tiny sea creatures like plankton, travel in the world’s oceans. One research team has developed a new biodegradable drifter instrument to study ocean currents that don’t contribute to the growing marine debris problem.

Scientists at the University of Miami (UM) Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science-based Consortium for Advanced Research on Transport of Hydrocarbon in the Environment (CARTHE), in collaboration with the ocean engineering company Bellamare LLC, recently developed and tested the new biodegradable drifter in a series of ocean current studies.

Drifters are buoy-like instruments that float at the surface of the ocean and transmit their location data to satellite as they drift with the currents to provide scientists with information about how water moves.

“New scientific instruments like the CARTHE drifter are quickly advancing our understanding of the ocean and ocean processes,” said UM Rosenstiel School Professor Tamay Özgökmen, who leads CARTHE, a Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative (GoMRI)-funded research consortium studying how oil is transported in the ocean to help inform and guide response teams in the event of future oil spills.

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