New Technologies and Platforms Transforming Oceanography
Science recently declared that new technologies are making remote sensing of the ocean a “new wave” of oceanography. This growing array of lower-cost, high-tech instruments–satellites, robotic gliders, moored sensors, underwater observatories–is transforming the discipline of oceanography, possibly reducing the need for expensive research vessels. A new class of automated biological sensors are nearing readiness and NOAA’s National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science (NCCOS) is advancing their development for use in coastal monitoring programs, ocean observing systems, and planned ecological forecasting capabilities.
Leading the way is the Environmental Sample Processor (ESP), the first commercially available robotic sensor. It can collect discrete water samples and concentrate microorganisms or particles, and has molecular probes which identify microorganisms and their genetic signatures. It then transmits its results to scientists ashore.
NOAA and our partners continue to demonstrate new applications for detecting harmful algae and their toxins and pathogens in the Gulf of Maine, California and Puget Sound. NCCOS-funded research projects involving ESPs are developing deployment and recovery strategies, designing optimal sensor networks, expanding the number of in-water tests available for algae, toxins, and pathogens, and piloting a private sector pathway to expand adoption of ESPs and other marine sensors soon to be commercially available.
Our program’s investments in the ESP and other new sensors demonstrate how NOAA is harnessing the power of these new sensing technologies to enhance regional research, observing and forecasting programs which advance agency priorities.
Learn more about individual sensor projects we’re working on or funding: