Unprecedented In Situ Southern Ocean Data Set Released to the Public

Data from the First Saildrone Antarctic Circumnavigation has been released to the global scientific community on Saildrone’s new data portal, data.saildrone.com, a repository of high-resolution in-situ observations collected by our global fleet of ocean drones.

At Saildrone, our mission is to collect and distribute new data to help understand planetary processes that impact humanity. Our unmanned surface vehicles (USVs) have traveled 500,000 nautical miles and counting to collect atmospheric, oceanographic, biogeochemical, and acoustic data from the Arctic to the Antarctic, and we’re thrilled to make it available to the public via our new data portal, data.saildrone.com (DSC).

Working closely with leading scientific institutions globally, this data will now be rigorously analyzed to improve insights in the role played by the Southern Ocean on regulating our planetary systems. We believe that this high-quality data set, combined with others from profiling floats, satellites, ships, and other instruments, will accelerate our understanding of critical questions like the role of the Southern Ocean as a source or a sink in the global carbon budget.

The first data set we’re making available on data.saildrone.com is SD 1020’s completed Antarctica Circumnavigation. In the Southern Ocean, SD 1020 was equipped with the standard Saildrone sensor suite, which collects a variety of variables from wind speed and direction to sea surface temperature, chlorophyll, and salinity. SD 1020 also carried an ASVCO2 to measure atmospheric and dissolved pCO2 (carbon flux), dissolved oxygen, water temperature, and pH, as well as an ADCP to measure the speed and direction of ocean currents.

Saildrone 1020 Antarctic circumnavigation
SD 1020 in the final moments of the 2019 Antarctic Circumnavigation.

The data available on data.saildrone.com is open and available for non-commercial purposes. To download hourly and minute-ly data, users will be required to complete a free registration form; daily data is available without registration. Anyone who uses Saildrone data is requested to cite the data set using this format.

Saildrone data is available in NetCDF (Network Common Data Form), which is a self-describing file type. A NetCDF file contains not only the data values, but the metadata related to those values—units, calibration dates, the manufacturer and serial number of the instrument, and where it was mounted on the vehicle.

“We strive to give consumers of the data we’re collecting as much metadata as possible; we’re producing not only really accurate data, but really accurate metadata, so that anyone can use the data with the right context and information about how it was collected,” said Kimberly Sparling, Senior Product Manager of Data Services at Saildrone.

Several other data sets are available via our partners. Data from the 2018 Baja California Mission, which compared Saildrone sea surface temperature (SST) measurements with that of a satellite and studied air-sea heat flux along dynamic frontal regions, is hosted on NASA’s Physical Oceanography Distributive Active Archive Center (PO.DAAC) website. The data set from the 2018 White Shark Ecosystem Survey studied the migratory habits of great white sharks and is hosted by the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Data from the 2019 Gulf Stream Mission to quantify wintertime air-sea heat and carbon exchange is hosted by our newest data partner, the European Marine Observation and Data Network (EMODnet).

The 2019 Antarctic Circumnavigation was generously supported by the Li Ka Shing Foundation and has resulted in a unique data set available for public consumption. The data set will be expanded as we continue to add the full high-resolution data from the entire fleet upon retrieval.

We encourage scientists and researchers to download and analyze this data set, and we look forward to reading the published peer-reviewed papers it might generate.

If you have any feedback about data.saildrone.com we’d love to hear from you. Please contact us!


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