2018 Baja California Mission

Explore Data Set

Measuring Air-Sea Fluxes within the California Current System

In the summer of 2018, a Saildrone unmanned surface vehicle (USV) was launched in San Francisco to follow a course south along the US/Mexico coast toward Guadalupe Island. A coalition of 23 scientists involved in 17 projects tracked the saildrone across the highly variable California Current System with two main areas of focus: To assess the utility of Saildrone measurements for satellite sea surface temperature (SST) validation and model assimilation; and to study air-sea heat flux along dynamic frontal regions using Saildrone’s core payload of sensors and an Acoustic Doppler Current Profiler (ADCP).

The 60-day Baja Campaign cruise was the first time the Saildrone USV platform was used in comparison studies with a satellite. The Suomi NPP satellite is equipped with a Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) and provides operation data for use in global weather and climate models. The goal of this mission was to perform a three-way comparison between data collected from a Saildrone USV, the satellite, and moored buoys and research vessels along the track in a region known for complex air-land-sea dynamics.

Using a saildrone alongside existing observation platforms has the possibility of addressing gaps in spatio-temporal data collection and analysis, particularly in geographies with highly variable sea surface temperatures and upwelling. Additionally, the data collected from this mission works toward advancing research into upwelling dynamics, air-sea fluxes, and ocean fronts in an economically important part of the ocean.

About the data set

Overview

  • Time period: 4/11/2018 - 6/11/2018 (60 days)
  • Number of drones: 1
  • Resolution: 1 minute (near-surface observational data), 5 minute (ADCP current vector data)

Atmospheric data includes:

  • Air pressure
  • Air temperature
  • Relative humidity
  • Photosynthetically active radiation
  • Wind speed and direction

Oceanographic data includes:

  • Oxygen concentration
  • Chlorophyll concentration
  • Conductivity
  • Water temperature
  • Sea surface temperature
  • Salinity
  • Optical backscatter at 650 nm
  • Concentration of colored dissolved organic matter in seawater
  • Acoustic Doppler Current Profile (ADCP) current vector data

Access method(s):

  • PO.DAAC

Hosted by NASA

2018 Baja California Mission

In the summer of 2018, a Saildrone unmanned surface vehicle (USV) was launched in San Francisco to follow a course south along the US/Mexico coast toward Guadalupe Island. A coalition of 23 scientists involved in 17 projects tracked the saildrone across the highly variable California Current System with two main areas of focus: To assess the utility of Saildrone measurements for satellite sea surface temperature (SST) validation and model assimilation; and to study air-sea heat flux along dynamic frontal regions using Saildrone’s core payload of sensors and an Acoustic Doppler Current Profiler (ADCP).

North American West Coast Survey

Fish stock assessments along the West Coast provide an essential view into fish populations and are integral to setting fishing rules and limits for the commercial fishing industry. In the summer and fall of 2018, five saildrones set off in a partnership with NOAA to improve the efficiency and accuracy of the West Coast assessment. This was the first integrated USV and ship survey of the North American West Coast.

White Shark Cafe Ecosystem Survey

The white shark is among the most iconic predators in the ocean, but for all their public exposure, the lives of white sharks remain shrouded in mystery. In 2018, two saildrones tracked tagged white sharks with the goal of shedding some light on a long-standing question around their migratory habits. Why do white sharks regularly congregate in a seemingly inhospitable part of the ocean?