Cutting-edge Saildrone may help improve weather forecasts

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NEWPORT, R.I. (WPRI) — A University of Rhode Island (URI) oceanography professor is hoping to learn more about the Gulf Stream and to improve weather forecasting with the help of some cutting-edge technology.

Assistant Professor Jaime Palter had a wind- and solar-powered unmanned surface vehicle (USV) called a Saildrone launched from the Newport Shipyard.

Saildrone, equipped with a new carbon dioxide sensor developed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, will head to the Gulf Stream and study ocean-air interactions to help make weather forecasts better.

Palter’s mission is to better understand how much carbon dioxide is absorbed along the length of the Gulf Stream during the winter, and what causes the carbon dioxide to be absorbed.

Palter is the recipient of a 2018 Saildrone Award, which provides 30 days of Saildrone-powered data collection, free of charge (equivalent to $1 million worth of research ship time), to the most impactful mission submitted during the year.

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