The Ocean Reference Station at 20° S, 85° W under the stratus clouds west of northern
Chile and Peru is being maintained to provide ongoing, climate-quality records of surface
meteorology, of air-sea fluxes of heat, freshwater, and momentum, and of upper ocean
temperature, salinity, and velocity variability. The Stratus Ocean Reference Station (ORS
Stratus) is supported by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA)
Climate Observation Program. It is recovered and redeployed annually, with cruises that
have come between October and December.
During the December 2004 cruise of NOAA's R/V Ronald H. Brown to the ORS Stratus
site, the primary activities where the recovery of the WHOI surface mooring that had been
deployed in November 2003, the deployment of a new WHOI surface mooring at that site,
the in-situ calibration of the buoy meteorological sensors by comparison with
instrumentation put on board by staff of the NOAA Environmental Technology Laboratory
(ETL), and observations of the stratus clouds and lower atmosphere by NOAA ETL and
Jason Tomlinson from Texas A&M.
The ORS Stratus buoys are equipped with two Improved Meteorological systems, which
provide surface wind speed and direction, air temperature, relative humidity, barometric
pressure, incoming shortwave radiation, incoming longwave radiation, precipitation rate,
and sea surface temperature. The IMET data are made available in near real time using
satellite telemetry. The mooring line carries instruments to measure ocean salinity,
temperature, and currents. The ETL instrumentation used during the 2004 cruise included
cloud radar, radiosonde balloons, and sensors for mean and turbulent surface meteorology.
The atmospheric observations also benefited from the C-Band radar mounted on the R/V
Ronald H. Brown.
In addition to this work, buoy work was done in support of the Chilean Navy
Hydrographic and Oceanographic Service (SHOA). A tsunami warning mooring was
reinstalled at 75°W, 20°S for SHOA, after the previous buoy installed last year failed.
SHOA personnel were onboard to direct the deployment and to gain experience. Four
students from the University of Concepcion collected hydrographic data and water
samples. One other Chilean student from the University of Chile was involved in the
atmospheric sampling program, with a particular focus on the near coast jet. Finally, the
cruise hosted a teacher participating in NOAA's Teacher at Sea Program, Mary Esther
Cook, who used her experience to develop lessons for her class back in Arkansas.