Powering Critical Data Collection to Improve Severe Weather Forecasting
In a world being reshaped by climate change, better weather forecast accuracy and a longer lead time are vital to help people avoid, or at least prepare for, disaster. Oceans can be monitored with increasing scope and quality with the use of floats and gliders, which allow, for the first time, continuous, real-time critical data collection—data that’s being used to improve the accuracy and reliability of hurricane, cyclone and other severe weather forecasts.
Deep in the heart of many of these floats and gliders are Integer power devices that enhance people’s lives much differently than the way we impact people medically each day.
Argo is a global network of more than 3,900 battery-powered autonomous floats. The floats drift at depths where they are stabilized by being neutrally buoyant. The high-resolution sensors on the floats profile the upper 2,000 meters of the ocean. Even though they drift, they need batteries to help raise and lower the instrument in the water column. Integer’s Electrochem subsidiary powers three different float models, the APEX, the SOLO and the NAVIS, as well as both the APEX and SOLO DEEP platforms. These models make up more than 60% of Argo’s fleet.
As the float ascends, a series of pressure, temperature and salinity measurements are made and stored onboard. Once the float reaches the surface, the information is transmitted to satellites. With this information, Argo improves heat energy maps in the ocean and, as a consequence, improves forecasting of the development (track and intensity) of hurricanes, typhoons and other severe weather systems that gain strength when passing over warmer water. Hurricanes and typhoons are both considered tropical cyclones, the storms are called typhoons in the west Pacific Ocean and hurricanes in the Atlantic and east Pacific Oceans.
Ocean researchers are also planning to deploy gliders – like the Slocum glider, powered by Electrochem’s lithium primary batteries – in the Western Pacific to help forecast storms like the 2013 super typhoon, Haiyan, which devastated portions of Southeast Asia and claimed thousands of lives. Underwater gliders “fly” in the ocean by changing buoyancy or using a propeller. These Unmanned Underwater Vehicles (UUV) can remain at sea for months at a time, continuously collecting meteorological data for better weather prediction. And since a typhoon’s path is largely influenced by atmospheric changes, gliders can help predict a storm’s intensity, which is affected by ocean temperatures.
While a primary focus of Argo is to document seasonal to decadal climate variability and to help our understanding of its predictability, the floats and gliders are providing oceanographers with unprecedented insight into severe weather predictability.
Electrochem continues to design superior power solutions that stand up to the ocean’s extreme weather conditions because the ultimate goal of Argo and environmental monitoring is to protect lives, which directly aligns with our company vision of enhancing lives.
If you have Google Earth, you can view the Argo network in real-time. This Argo layer for Google Earth shows the positions of all active and inactive floats, features stories about a select number of floats and shows where floats will soon be deployed.