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Global Drifter Program (GDP). Drifter Measurements of Surface Velocity, SST and Atmospheric Pressure. Rick Lumpkin National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory (AOML) Miami, Florida USA. Data Buoy Cooperation Panel (DBCP)

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Global drifter program gdp
Global Drifter Program (GDP)

Drifter Measurements of Surface Velocity, SST and Atmospheric Pressure

Rick Lumpkin

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory (AOML)

Miami, Florida USA

Data Buoy Cooperation Panel (DBCP)

20th Session – October 2004

Chennai, India

Gdp purpose
GDP purpose

GDP: the principal component of the Global Surface Drifting Buoy Array, a branch of NOAA’s Global Ocean Observing System (GOOS) and Global Climate Observing System (GCOS) and a scientific project of the DBC.


Maintain a global 5ºx5º array of ARGOS-tracked Lagrangian surface drifting buoys to meet the need for an accurate and globally dense set of in-situ observations: mixed layer currents, SST, atmospheric pressure, winds, and salinity.

Provide data processing system for scientific use of these data.

These data support short-term (seasonal-to-interannual) climate predictions as well as climate research and monitoring.

The gdp is managed with close cooperation between
The GDP is managed with close cooperation between:

• Manufacturers in private industry: build the drifters according to closely monitored specifications

• NOAA’s Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory (AOML): coordinates deployments, processes the data, archives data at AOML and at MEDS (Canada), maintains META files describing each drifter deployed, develops and distributes data-based products, updates the GDP website

• NOAA’s Joint Institute of Marine Observations (JIMO): supervises the industry, upgrades the technology, purchases the drifters, develops enhanced data sets, maintains liaison with individual research programs that deploy drifters

Drifters deployed
Drifters deployed

September 2003 – August 2004

Tropical Oceans (20°S – 20°N)

Pacific: 169Atlantic: 100Indian: 18

Drifters deployed1
Drifters deployed

September 2003 – August 2004

Subtropical Southern Hemisphere (40°S – 20°S)

55 drifters deployed.

Barometer upgrades: 5 (Pacific), 6 (Atlantic)

Drifters deployed2
Drifters deployed

September 2003 – August 2004

Southern Ocean (south of 40°S)

92 drifters deployed.

Barometer upgrades: 74

2005 goals and plans
2005: Goals and plans

Deploy 900 Drifters in the period between October 2004 and September 2005. Up to 300 SVP buoys may be upgraded with barometers by NOAA/OGP.

REACH GOAL: 1250 drifters, 5° x 5° resolution of the world’s oceans.

(All plans subject to JTA negotiations)

Details: Craig Engler’s talk

Other 2004 gdp activities
Other 2004 GDP Activities

Scientific achievements,

Technical developments.

Synthesizing different observations

Absolute sea level, 1992-2002

Niiler, Maximenko and McWilliams, 2004

Synthesizing different observations

Drifters: in-situ currents throughout the world

(but not continuous)

Altimetry: continuous estimates of geostrophic currents

along satellite passes (but not direct measurements,

and mean is contaminated by geoid errors)

Winds: can be used to estimate the main ageostrophic current.


Seasonal variations of the tropical atlantic

Lumpkin and Garzoli, 2005

Seasonal variations of the Tropical Atlantic

Drifter observations: inhomogeneous in space and time.

With seasonal changes, this can create biases when averaged in boxes.

Development of the mini drifter
Development of the “mini” drifter

Redesigned at JIMO

40% smaller components

Transmitter: 14V  4V

Newer design techniques


Cost of a drifter (approx):

2002: $2150

2003: $1800

2004: $1700

Measuring sea surface salinity with drifters
Measuring sea surface salinity with drifters

GDP/SIO development

Additional development at WHOI (NOPP/NASA funding).

The GDP will facilitate the WHOI efforts by making SVP platforms available for testing and deployments.

This is easily accomplished via Clearwater Instruments, Inc., who builds drifters for the GDP and who is an industrial partner in this WHOI/NOPP project.

SVP surface float

Microcat mounting assembly

Deployments and recoveries of svp microcats
Deployments and recoveriesof SVP-Microcats

2000-2004: 30 SVP-Microcats deployed

- Microcat attached to surface float

- launched in East China Sea

- two recovered: post calibration shows

no detectable shifts (<1 month)

2004 2005 plans
2004-2005 plans

GDP/SIO funded to build 5 pairs of SVP-Microcats.

- Pairs: one with, one without pumping.

Pairs will be launched from French Met office ships.

- Location: west of France (e.g. Bay of Biscay).

- Requested: sequential recoveries over next

12 months for post-calibration.


Our appreciation to the following Operational Partners for their contributions to GDP activities



South African Weather Service

New Zealand Met Service

Australian Bureau of Meteorology

Fisheries Research Institute (INIDEP) and Servicio de Hidrografía Naval, Argentina

Instituto Canario de Ciencias Marinas (ICCM), Canary Islands

National Institute of Oceanography (NIO) and National Institute of Ocean Technology (NIOT), India

Scripps Institution of Oceanography

CICESE, Mexico

Voluntary Observing Ships (VOS)

International Ice Patrol (IIP)

United States Air Force

Oregon State University

US Naval Oceanographic Office

United States Coast Guard

INMET and Centro de Hydrografia de Marinha, Brasil

United Kingdom Met Office

Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

Raytheon Polar Services

University of Cape Town

Environment Canada

And others …

Rick lumpkin rick lumpkin@noaa gov
Rick Lumpkin their contributions to GDP activities([email protected])

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory (AOML)

Miami, Florida USA