Technology: Ocean-going 'socks' get the drift

时间:2019-02-28 08:08:03166网络整理admin

By ANDY COGHLAN Holey ‘socks’ will soon be adding to our knowledge of the world’s climate. The socks are attached to drifting sensors that monitor ocean currents and other oceanographic phenomena. They have been built by Pern Niiler and his colleagues at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla, California. ‘They are essentially like socks with the foot cut off and with holes in the side,’ explains Derek Painting of Britain’s Meteorological Office in Bracknell. Painting has just received five of the socks and sensing devices for testing in the North Atlantic. He says that the devices are considerably lighter and cheaper than existing buoys for monitoring the oceans. The socks are made of heavy black nylon fabric and are about 7 metres long and 1 metre in diameter. Each sock dangles 15 metres below a small buoy loaded with instruments. The sock anchors the buoy into the ocean currents so that it is not blown off course. The ball-shaped buoy has also been reduced in size, so it is less susceptible to winds. It weighs 25 kilograms, is just 45 centimetres across and costs $6000. Traditional buoys are around 2 metres long, 60 centimetres across and cost $25 000. The new devices can also be dropped from aircraft to study remote areas inaccessible to ships. The devices will be the first to capture meteorological as well as oceanographic data. Besides measuring ocean drift, they will record data on atmospheric pressure and temperature at the sea surface, says Painting. The data they collect will be transmitted via the Argos satellite to researchers on land. ‘We can follow data in real-time,