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Ocean Glider Project

Charles N. Flagg


The glider project at Stony Brook University grew out of the New York Department of Conservation's need to understand and monitor the New York Bight and its long-term health and productivity.  As a result, the School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences at Stony Brook University developed a ten year program to measure the hydrography, chemistry and fishery biomass from seasonal cruises on the RV Seawolf and ~30 day ocean glider cruises covering the New York Bight area.  Subsequently, a collaborative program between Rutgers, Stony Brook and the University of Maine was proposed to NOAA to use the gliders that were being deployed in the Middle Atlantic Shelf and the Gulf of Maine to monitor ocean acidification in the area.  The ocean acidification monitoring makes use of a new pH sensor developed by Sea Bird Electronics, in collaboration with Grace Saba's group at Rutgers, that can be mounted on the gliders.  This new sensor has been added to the Stony Brook glider with its first cruise starting February, 2021.

The SoMAS ocean glider operation is intended to provide long term and seasonal data on the basic physical conditions in the New York Bight as part of the New York DEC's ocean monitoring effort.  The glider, SBU01, is a Webb Research Slocum G3 shallow water unit, maximum depth is 350m, equipped with the standard suite of sensors measuring temperature, conductivity, pressure, dissolved oxygen, chlorophyll fluorescence, turbidity and pH.  The intent is to deploy the glider seasonally from south of Long Island on a cruise that includes a series of transects out to the edge of the continental shelf ending up off Sandy Hook or Little Egg Inlet, New Jersey for retrieval.  The glider propels itself through a series of dives and climbs making about 20 km per day, slower in shallow water, faster in deep water with fewer dive/climb iterations.  With the rechargeable batteries in the glider, cruise duration in MAB waters is about 32 days and ~600 km.  So far, there have been five cruises in the MAB,shopwn below, adding more than 13,000 vertical profiles of T, S, O2, Fl and Turbidity to the database.  In January a SeaBird CTD/pH sensor was added to the glider to provide seasonal and spatial distributions of pH to assist in monitoring the impact of CO2 absorbion in the ocean.

Piloting of the glider is accomplished through a two-way Iridium satellite connection initiated by the glider when it surfaces at approximately three hour intervals.  Using Webb Research supplied software, the Slocum Fleet Mission Control or SFMC, heavily decimated realtime data are sent ashore and mission modifications can be sent to the glider.  The near realtime data that have been uploaded from the glider are currently being minimally processed by Rutgers' glider group into netcdf files for each surfacing and uploaded onto NOAA's ERDDAP server accessible via  

Post cruise, the complete set of glider data are offloaded from the glider's memory cards and processed using a set of routines based upon those developed by John Kerfoot (Rutgers), Robert Todd (WHOI) and Ruth Curry (BIOS).  That processing system calibrates the data, does a QA/QC check on the validity of the results and stores the data in a large Matlab file.  The Matlab files are accessible through the project server.  Work is underway to convert the Matlab files to the a netcdf file format so that they can be uploaded onto NOAA's ERDDAP server.  The glider data is so voluminous that using the ERDDAP server is the only practical way of making the data available to potential users.


SBU01-1  July 2019 
SBU01-2  October 2019

SBU01-3  February 2021

SBU01-4  May 2021

SBU01-5  July 2021

SBU01-6  November 2021

Useful Websites

Active Deployments


NDBO Buoy 44025
    Shows data from a 3-meter discus buoy South of Long Island.
NDBO Buoy 44066
    Shows data from a 3-meter discus by Hudson Canyon

Islip Airport Weather
Brookhaven Airport Weather
    Click on the Current Marine Data and the corresponding area to see wave height and wind data over the oceans.