Team location: Stennis Space Center
Brandie Mitchell (Stennis DEVELOP Center Lead)
Jason Jones (Stennis DEVELOP Assistant Center Lead)
Mr. Joe Spruce, Computer Science Corporation (Science Advisor)
Abstract: The goal of this project is to obtain data regarding surface circulation in the Gulf of Mexico to aid in monitoring marine debris trajectories and dispersal and regulating marine debris practices. Marine debris is a continual problem for coastal areas all over the world. In the Gulf of Mexico, the Loop Current flows north through the Yucatan Channel, loops east, then south where it exits through the Florida Straits. Clockwise-rotating areas of warm water, called eddies, periodically pinch off of the Loop Current. These eddies potentially trap and transport debris onto shores, such as the shore of Padre Island. The Padre Island National Seashore is a 68 mile barrier island beach in southeastern Texas, and is the longest undeveloped beach in the world.This pristine beach can accumulate up to a ton of marine debris per linear mile. This project uses sea surface height and height anomaly data created using NASA altimeter satellites TOPEX/Poseidon, Jason 1, and Jason 2; as well as European altimeter satellites ERS 1, ERS 2 (European Remote Sensing Satellite), and Envisat. This project also uses MODIS sea surface temperature data to aid in monitoring the Gulf of Mexico Loop Current. The sea surface height anomaly data is processed to calculate geostrophic velocities and predict particle paths. This research will provide NOAA’s Marine Debris Program and the Padre Island National Seashore with a better understanding of how the Gulf of Mexico Loop Current and circulation patterns disperse marine debris to coastal areas. A methodology to monitor Gulf circulation and predict particle paths by using satellite altimeter data will be provided to these agencies. Maps of debris trajectories and geostrophic currents that demonstrate the usefulness of satellite altimetry data to monitor the distribution of marine debris will also be provided.
Download the poster PDF here.
Video transcript available here.