April 1, 2006
In May, the Spray glider will attempt to set yet another record when it will begin the roughly 2,500-mile journey from the tip of Greenland to the coast of Spain to help scientists better understand the role of oceans in global climate. The autonomous underwater vehicle or AUV moves slowly through the Atlantic Ocean collecting temperature and salinity data between the sea surface and 1,000 meters (about 3,300 feet) depth. Spray, a collaboration between the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) and the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, surfaces about every seven hours to send back data to scientists ashore. It will be deployed in May from a French research vessel working near Greenland to test its ability to travel significant distances, and has already set a record crossing the Gulf Stream. Within five years, researchers hope hundreds of gliders like Spray will be deployed worldwide to provide a presence in the ocean 24/7 rather than the mostly snapshot view oceanographers now have of what is happening below the surface.