USVs study hurricanes with the NOAA

July 11, 2023  - By
Graphic showing the USV domain areas during the 2023 Atlantic Hurricane mission. (Image: SailDrone)

Graphic showing the USV domain areas during the 2023 Atlantic Hurricane mission. (Image: SailDrone)

Saildrone — a data solutions company for maritime security, ocean mapping, and ocean data — is deploying 12 uncrewed surface vehicles (USV) into the tropical Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico this summer, supporting the research by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to advance hurricane forecasting.

Saildrone is deploying 10 USVs from St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, St. Petersburg, FL, and Charleston, SC, to operate in areas with a high probability of intercepting a storm, as indicated by historical data. Two vehicles will remain on land, ready for quick deployment in the event of an approaching hurricane.

Image: SailDrone

Image: SailDrone

A Saildrone Explorer is a 23-ft USV propelled by the wind and powered by solar energy. During the past two missions in 2021 and 2022, Saildrone vehicles sailed through several storms and major hurricanes, including Hurricane Sam in 2021, and Hurricane Fiona in 2022.

In addition to the Saildrone Explorers, NOAA is using a variety of aerial, surface, and sub-surface technologies, — including its Hurricane Hunter airplanes, small, uncrewed aircraft systems, gliders, drifters and floats.

The goal is to create a complete picture of the ocean-atmosphere interactions that drive hurricanes.

The USVs will transmit data, including air temperature and relative humidity, barometric pressure, wind speed and direction, water temperature and salinity, sea surface temperature, and wave height and period in near real time to scientists at NOAA’s Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory and Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory, Saildrone’s science partners for the mission.

NOAA will use the data collected by the USVs to improve hurricane forecast models. The data will also be archived by NOAA’s National Environmental Satellite, Data and Information Service and sent by NOAA to the World Meteorological Organization’s Global Telecommunication System, where it is available for the world’s major forecast centers — some 20 agencies worldwide, including NOAA.

This article is tagged with , , and posted in Latest News, Mapping

About the Author: Maddie Saines

Maddie was a managing editor at GPS World.