University of California, Santa Barbara

CIRF Seminar on "Swarms of Small Autonomous Floats for Tracking Ocean Currents, Mimicking Larvae, and Sensing the Environment"

Wednesday, January 26 | 4:00 PM - 5:00 PM
ESB 2001

Title:  "Swarms of Small Autonomous Floats for Tracking Ocean Currents, Mimicking Larvae, and Sensing the Environment"

Speaker:  Jules S. Jaffe, Marine Physical Lab, Scripps Inst. of Oceanography, UCSD

Abstract:  A long-standing challenge in surveying ocean processes has been the need to sample many locations simultaneously as the environment is time varying at a range of temporal and spatial scales that are of great interest.  The problem is especially acute in the realm of sub-mesoscale coastal dynamics whose processes govern many interesting physical, chemical, and biological phenomena.  Over the last several years, under NSF support, our group has been developing a relatively inexpensive system that consists of miniature, self-ballasting floats that can be tracked underwater in 3-d over distances of 5 – 10 km.  Such floats can be deployed in groups or swarms to track isobars, isotherms, or programmed to mimic changes in buoyancy in order to ascertain the role that varying buoyancy or diel migration plays in transport.  Our program consists of the near term goals of fabrication and deployment of such a system.  In addition, it is supported by several engineering efforts at UCSD that are exploring strategies for inferring currents from surface observations only, the use of opportunistic rendezvousing via the exploitation of sub-surface ocean currents, and the implementation of short range underwater communication networking.

Bio:  Dr. Jaffe is a Research Oceanographer in the Marine Physical Lab at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography.  For several decades he has maintained an active group in developing underwater acoustic, optical, and now, miniature vehicles for sensing the underwater environment. Dr. Jaffe is a fellow of the Acoustical Society of America and has been the recipient of a National Sciences Creativity Award as well as a visiting Miller Professorship at UC Berkeley.  (web page:

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