Drifting in the Gulf

Vimeo Link:  https://vimeo.com/263665381

YouTube Link: https://youtu.be/9VXcoHdV_vY

Team Members:

Guillaume Novelli,  Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, University of Miami
Laura Bracken Chaibongsai, Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, University of Miami
Patrick Rynne, PhD, Waterlust


Drifters are buoy-like instruments that float at the surface of the ocean and transmit their location data to satellites as they drift with the currents to provide scientists with information about how water moves. Researchers at the University of Miami spent two years testing various structures and materials before finalizing the new CARTHE drifter design, which is the first environmentally friendly drifter made from 85 percent seawater biodegradable components. The CARTHE drifter design benefited from recent advances in biochemistry by using new biodegradable and non-toxic thermoplastics known as polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHA). PHA products were a great fit for the drifter design since they are both readily available and meet the American Society for Testing of Materials (ASTM) standard for biodegradability in the marine environment. Additionally, PHAs being thermoplastics with strong mechanical properties similar to commonly used plastics fit the unique construction needs for the sacrificial oceanographic instruments.

Original Publication:

Novelli, Guillaume, Cédric M. Guigand, Charles Cousin, Edward H. Ryan, Nathan J.M. Laxague, Hanjing Dai, Brian K. Haus, Tamay M. Özgokmen, 2017. A biodegradable surface drifter for ocean sampling on a massive scale. Journal of Atmospheric and Oceanic Technology 34 (11): 2509-2532

Link to Publication: https://journals.ametsoc.org/doi/abs/10.1175/JTECH-D-17-0055.1

Support Provided by: A grant from the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative

By the Numbers

Over 40,000 students in 50 US states, the US Virgin Islands, and 25 countries participated as judges in the 2016 Ocean 180 Video Challenge.