Underwater autonomous gliders have transitioned from exotic experimental systems to becoming a standard platform capable of collecting data over a critical range of spatial and temporal scales in the ocean. The data are proving to be extremely valuable for addressing a wide range of basic and applied research questions. This evolution has led to a growing international community of glider laboratories and offers the potential of increased opportunities to leverage efforts across this “young” growing community. To that end, we review the evolution of the glider communities and share our opinions of opportunities and hurdles. These communities grew from distributed research and/or education groups. It is crucial as systems continue to evolve that there is an effort to “harmonize” data products while preserving the diversity of approaches/science/experimentation. As the gliders have matured and new battery solutions provide additional energy, there is an increased focus on the integration of a wider range of sensors to be incorporated into gliders. Many of these new classes of sensors will be particularly effective for characterizing biological processes in the coastal ocean. As biological sensors generally provide proxy estimates of a parameter, developing robust quality control and assurance procedures is critical. These new sensors will be more power intensive, thus requiring the development of planning tools for increasing energy efficiency during missions. Given the significant growth in the highly distributed glider community, efforts are now focusing on the development mission planning tools to allow for efficient operation of glider fleets.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Ocean Engineering
- Autonomous underwater gliders
- Ocean observing