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Air/sea Interface Samplers

A number of tools is available to study the interaction of the ocean and atmosphere. These types of instruments include moorings, satellites, and meteorological sensors. A surface buoy or mooring may serve as a platform for a variety of meteorological instruments. Such moorings located along the equatorial Pacific, for instance, allowed scientists to study ocean-atmospheric interactions that led to new understanding of the El Ni?o phenomenon.

Although they are not deployed into the ocean, Earth-orbiting satellites play an important role in modern oceanography. Two-way communication via satellite allows data monitoring and control of remote instruments. Satellite-based instruments to study global circulation include altimeters, which can precisely measure variations in sea level height. Infrared sensors measure sea surface temperature to reveal currents, eddies, and other circulation features. Complementing ship-based operations, satellites are particularly important for looking at processes that change over time (such as plankton blooms), for collecting global data, and for investigating sea ice coverage in polar regions in winter.

Some sensors used on ships or buoys are useful for studying the meteorological aspects of the air-sea interface. Exchanges of heat and water couple the ocean atmosphere in a dynamic system that creates and drives the planet's global climate. To understand this system's role in governing climate change on broad ranges of time scales (and answer questions involving ice ages, global warming, El Ni?o, and tomorrow's weather), meteorological sensors can measure sea surface temperature, air temperature, wind velocity, barometric pressure, radiation, humidity, precipitation, and aerosol levels (e.g. ozone). These measurements permit increasingly accurate, global estimates of air-sea fluxes. The sensor packages include the capability to communicate meteorological data via satellite to a central data facility.

(Modified from: University-National Oceanographic Laboratory System (UNOLS), The Research Fleet)
Improved Meteorological Packages (IMET)

Improved Meteorological Packages (IMET)

Researchers use the IMET to understand the role of the exchanges of heat, gas and water across the air-sea interface in climate change.