Semester at Sea and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) are partners in a program to distribute Global Surface Drifting Buoys to meet the need "for an accurate and globally dense set of in-situ observations of mixed layer currents, sea surface temperature, atmospheric pressure, winds and salinity." This data supports both short-term climate predictions as well as climate research and monitoring. Because our ship, the MV Explorer, travels routes around the planet not typically covered by other vessels, we are a wonderful candidate for releasing a buoys in places where data points are needed. That's where our buoy chuck comes in! Between S. Africa and India, when instructed from the bridge (and based on GPS readings of our location), we've had a chance to chuck these buoys over the side of the ship. Climate science in action! Using satellite tracking and communication devices, NOAA (and with a web address, the rest of us) can track these devices for the next 1-2 years and use their data. According to by NOAA and European scientific agencies, global sea surface temperature is approximately 1 degree C higher now than 140 years ago (at the start of the Industrial Revolution). Here are some photos. Buoy? (check), ready, set, chuck!
Goofy professor checks the equipment
Capable staff activate the bouy
Excited students prepare to toss
Indian Ocean temperatures (and more) being measured