map data ocean currents global drifter
[Global drifter velocity data ... or smart buoys gathering data as they wander aimlessly. In any given month since 1993, there has been an array of more than 600 drifters in the global ocean. Image via EOS.]

A week ago the New York Times expressed that we might be ailing from data exhaustion with the constantly streaming (and often conflicted) deluge of speculations, trajectories, and forecasts of environmental shifts. Citing Greenland’s ice shedding and species behavioral changes – probably the first time that jellyfish have made it on to many a front page – the public is suffering from whiplash as new information and phenomena are rumored to be a result of human-influenced climate change. The argument from Andrew Revkin’s article is that the cacophony of research findings is producing an increased ambivalence – a kind of boy-who-cried-wolf disbelief.

[Enviro-images producing a data deluge. Image via New York Times.]

Of equal interest to the reader psychology resulting from climate info, is the methods of augmenting the environment to harvest such data. Land, sea and air are increasingly monitored, likely more than at any other time in history. Like a body on life-support rigged from head to toe in a network of pinging nodes and cables continuously, every blurp and hiccup is registered, recorded, and broadcasted. Access to enviro-data is even more readily available. And with all of this enviro-dataveillance, comes a slew of augmenting devices mining information with a delicate, presumably non-invasive hand. Devices operate nodally across some larger meshwork of land or water.

In that same article an image from NASA appeared of a plot of buoys monitoring the ocean. Chasing this down, the AOML in partnership with NOAA, have a project called the Global Drifter Program that is essentially satellite-tracked surface drifting buoys. Here is a snapshot of their current whereabouts as of … um …two days ago:

map data buoys global array ocean
[This array of 1175 buoys are ambling along monitoring surface sea temperature (SST).]

And then all this data of course is archived and linked sequentially. For example, feel free to browse through the last 27 years of of sea surface temperatures here. The augmenting technologies are often simple, almost home-tech assemblies of GPS, radio frequencies, and satellites. Remote sensing through satellites can handle the bulk of monitoring, but many projects, such as the Global Drifter program, require more haptic sensing.

deployment drifter buoy
[The deployment of drifters is often done through a kind of sea-faring crowd-farming. Drifter buoys are launched by Volunteer Observation Ships (VOS).]

satellite diagram topex poseidon ocean monitor
[Topex/Poseidon satellite system provided the first continuous, global coverage of ocean surface topography and allows week-to-week oceanic variations. Image via Aviso.]

map katrina wind data satellite
[QuickSCAT satellites record sea surface wind speeds and direction. This scatterometer operates by transmitting high-frequency microwave pulses to the ocean surface and measuring the echoed radar pulses bounced back to the satellite.]

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[...] The towers collectively act as a bellwe(a)ther for the environment. They are "breathing, creaking, groaning, sweating and crying when stressed." The enclosure is shrouded in air bags that inflate and deflate to register subtle changes in temperature and climate. Jellyfish-like cables dangle below the facade platform and are able to spray seawater onto the heated facade emitting steam. The project conveys nothing short of iconic enviro-veillance. [...]

InfraNet Lab » Blog Archive » Student Works: Defense Habitat added these pithy words on Dec 15 09 at 10:06 am

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