February 5, 2013
While the science team sets up their equipment on the Lone Ranger in preparation for the cruise, a team of scientists from the U.S. Canada, Japan, and Europe is working to provide a bird’s-eye view of the planned cruise track. Stephanie King of Fisheries and Oceans, Canada provides remote sensing data from satellites to detect and map Sargassum aggregations along the cruise track. The MERIS satellite instrument is a programmable, imaging spectrometer that scans the earth’s surface. It can acquire data over the Earth whenever weather conditions are suitable. Just as more megapixels in your digital camera give you a more detailed photograph, the higher resolution MERIS view gives researchers on the ship a detailed view of the ocean surface. The Canadian Space Agency made it possible for us to get the highest resolution data possible from the MERIS satellite instrument. The agency is also funding the processing of the MERIS data in near-real-time.
MBARI’s John Ryan takes the satellite data, processes and interprets the data, and sends relevant information and images to the Lone Ranger. This near-real-time information can help the research team on the ship target where to observe and collect in the Sargassumaggregations. With sea surface temperature and ocean current measurement, the team will be able to relate the patterns of Sargassum aggregations to ocean water masses and circulation patterns.