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Fleet of underwater gliders could improve global weather forecasts


While our entire climate model is based on the world's ocean currents, there's a surprising lack of detailed measurements of their movements. Researchers from Rutgers and elsewhere want to rectify that with the Challenger Glider Mission, which will launch 16 unpowered, autonomous submarines later this month. As with past adventures, the 7-foot-long craft will ply deep currents across 80,000 square miles in five ocean basins, using buoyancy changes and fins for propulsion and navigation. From there they'll transmit real-time current, temperature and salinity data to the Iridium satellite network. Combined with other observational methods, that could help scientists refine current climate models and improve forecasting. Researchers will also gauge the health of our planet's oceans using phytoplankton measurements -- definitely a hot-button issue at the moment.

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