Enviro-veillance: Augmented Oceans

map data ocean currents global drifter

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.

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

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

satellite diagram topex poseidon ocean monitor

map katrina wind data satellite

Related Post: Vortices, Heaps, and Enzymes

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