Currents, buoys and children

Image of the month - August 2001

Drift of Euphemos, a buoy released by Marc Thiercelin during the 2000-2001 Vendée Globe yacht race in the Antarctic, superimposed over sea level anomalies derived from Topex/Poseidon and ERS-2. Arrows represent geostrophic current velocities. (Credits Cnes).

Buoys released in mid-ocean drift under the influence of weather conditions and tides, but also as a result of the major currents and local eddies that drive ocean circulation. By comparing the path of a buoy with altimetry maps, we can determine to what extent currents have dictated its movements.
Cnes, in partnership with IUFM, French teacher-training institute, initiated the Argonautica project for primary and secondary school children. In 2000-2001, skippers competing in the Vendée Globe solo round-the-world yacht race released buoys that were then tracked by the Argos system. The children were able to compare the buoys' routes against maps of winds, sea level anomalies, pressure, associated geostrophic current, dynamic topography and so on.

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