Institute bolstered by two new ‘gliders’

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  • New additions: Researcher Ruth Curry with BIOS’s three gliders, Anna, Jack and Minnie

    New additions: Researcher Ruth Curry with BIOS’s three gliders, Anna, Jack and Minnie

  • Researchers recoverer

    Researchers recoverer "Anna", an underwater glider, from the ocean.


The Bermuda Institute for Ocean Sciences has been given two new “gliders” to collect an array of information about the Island’s waters.

The underwater gliders, named Jack and Minnie, arrived at BIOS last week, and are expected to set off later this summer to gather a wealth of data. They will join BIOS’s first glider, Anna, which has been in service since last summer.

Physical oceanographer Ruth Curry said: “We plan to run Minnie and Jack on side-by-side missions for about two to three months at a time. I want them to catch the seasonal transition of the ocean in this part of the world from summer to fall, and from winter to spring.”

Each of the 6ft devices carry a number of sensors, measuring the water’s salinity, temperature, oxygen content, nutrient content and the currents.

The gliders are intended to help map the ocean’s currents, studying the processes controlling biological productivity and measuring the impact of climate change and intense storms.

While the gliders lack motors, scientists are able to pilot them remotely via satellite, using their wings to “fly” through the waters. Batteries adjust the gliders’ buoyancy, with the wings providing the forward motion and a movable rudder steering the device left and right.

Each glider can dive up to 3,000ft below the surface and travel 15 miles a day, covering thousands of miles during a single deployment.

They are also significantly less expensive to operate than research ships and can run in the face of turbulent weather conditions such as hurricanes.

A BIOS spokeswoman said that each of the gliders boasts it’s own unique equipment intended to complement one another as they collect data.

“Jack has been outfitted with an instrument known as an Acoustic Doppler Current Profiler, which will provide detailed measurements of ocean current strength and structure,” she said. “Minnie is equipped with a state-of-the-art nitrate sensor to measure nutrients.

“Together these measurements will enable researchers to address long-standing questions about biological productivity that supports the entire marine food web, and the ocean’s role in drawing down carbon dioxide from the atmosphere that affects the rate of greenhouse warming.”

She also noted that all of the gliders were named in honour of donors to BIOS’s Mid-Atlantic Glider Initiative and Collaboration (MAGIC).

“The establishment of MAGIC was made possible by the generous support of the Grayce B Kerr Fund of Easton, Maryland,” the spokeswoman said. “The gliders Anna and Jack were named for two young siblings in the Kerr Family.

“Funding for Minnie was generously provided by the Simons Foundation of New York, New York.

“The Simons Foundation selected the name to honour Marilyn Simons’s great-grandmother Minerva, whose nickname was Minnie.”

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Published Jul 20, 2015 at 8:00 am (Updated Jul 20, 2015 at 1:26 am)

Institute bolstered by two new ‘gliders’

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