Autonomous and Lagrangian Platforms and Sensors: A Scientific and Technical Review

Lead PI: Daniel Rudnick, Scripps Institution of Oceanography
Start Year: 2017 | Duration: 1 year
Partners: University of California Santa Cruz, Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, University of Washington, Yale University, National Science Foundation & Office of Naval Research


Observational oceanography involves the sampling of a global turbulent fluid. Relevant length scales range from the size of ocean basins down to the millimeters where turbulent dissipation occurs. Time scales of interest are as small as seconds to climate fluctuations of decades or centuries. A relatively new approach to address the challenges of sampling this broad range of scale is to use autonomous platforms, defined here as being unconnected either to a ship or the seafloor. The trends in autonomous and Lagrangian platforms and sensors (ALPS) have been apparent for some time.

This ALPS-II science and technology review has the overarching goals to survey progress since the first ALPS workshop in 2003 and to assess future prospects. The meeting will examine the ALPS enterprise through a sequence of slices through a rapidly growing field, address the history and potential of the various platforms (drifters, floats, gliders, autonomous underwater vehicles, autonomous surface vehicles, unmanned aerial vehicles), and review the various classes of sensors, including physical, biogeochemical, optical, acoustic, etc. with special attention to their use on autonomous platforms. The scientific problems amenable to ALPS technologies will be discussed including global and regional issues, high latitudes, ocean acidification, and climate variability. The value of ALPS in ocean forecasting will be a topic of interest, including approaches for adaptive sampling and control. Models for managing and operating ALPS assets will be discussed, with the goal of making the technologies available to more scientists. The outcome of ALPS-II will be broadly shared with the ocean scientific community.