Oceanography The Official Magazine of
The Oceanography Society
Volume 30 Issue 02

View Issue TOC
Volume 30, No. 2
Pages 222 - 227


HANDS-ON OCEANOGRAPHY • Observing the Ocean with Gliders: Techniques for Data Visualization and Analysis

By Christine E. Hanson , L. Mun Woo , Paul G. Thomson, and Charitha B. Pattiaratchi  
Jump to
Citation Supplementary Materials References Copyright & Usage
First Paragraph

Purpose of Activity. Ocean glider missions can provide a catalyst for student participation and education in oceanography, as recently demonstrated by the trans-Atlantic Slocum glider expeditions operated from Rutgers University (Glenn et al., 2011). For the present activity, we developed a series of hands-on, computer-based exercises that allow students (and other interested users) to become familiar with the types of data collected by ocean gliders, and to learn how to analyze them using visualization software developed specifically for glider data (GLIDERSCOPE; Figure 1). In addition to demonstrating general techniques for oceanographic data analysis and interpretation, this activity explores key principles of physical and biological oceanography that include water column structure, upwelling and mesoscale eddy dynamics, and the distribution of particulate matter within the water column.


Hanson, C.E., L.M. Woo, P.G. Thomson, and C.B. Pattiaratchi. 2016. Observing the ocean with gliders: Techniques for data visualization and analysis. Oceanography 30(2):222–227, https://doi.org/10.5670/oceanog.2017.210.

Supplementary Materials

Eriksen, C.C., T.J. Osse, R.D. Light, T. Wen, T.W. Lehman, P.L. Sabin, J.W. Ballard, and A.M. Chiodi. 2001. Seaglider: A long-range autonomous underwater vehicle for oceanographic research. IEEE Journal of Oceanic Engineering 26:424–436, https://doi.org/10.1109/48.972073.

Gersbach, G.H., C.B. Pattiaratchi, G.N. Ivey, and G.R. Cresswell. 1999. Upwelling on the south-west coast of Australia—Source of the Capes Current? Continental Shelf Research 19:363–400, https://doi.org/10.1016/S0278-4343(98)00088-0.

Glenn, S., O. Schofield, J. Kohut, J. McDonnell, R. Ludescher, D. Seidel, D. Aragon, T. Haskins, E. Handel, C. Haldeman, and others. 2011. The trans-Atlantic Slocum glider expeditions: A catalyst for undergraduate participation in ocean science and technology. Marine Technology Society Journal 45:52–67, https://doi.org/10.4031/MTSJ.45.1.12.

Hanson, C.E., C.B. Pattiaratchi, and A.M. Waite. 2005a. Seasonal production regimes off south-western Australia: Influence of the Capes and Leeuwin Currents on phytoplankton dynamics. Marine and Freshwater Research 56:1,011–1,026, https://doi.org/10.1071/MF04288.

Hanson, C.E., C.B. Pattiaratchi, and A.M. Waite. 2005b. Sporadic upwelling on a downwelling coast: Phytoplankton responses to spatially variable nutrient dynamics off the Gascoyne region of Western Australia. Continental Shelf Research 25:1,561–1,582, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.csr.2005.04.003.

Hanson, C.E., S. Pesant, A.M. Waite, and C.B. Pattiaratchi. 2007. Assessing the magnitude and significance of deep chlorophyll maxima of the coastal eastern Indian Ocean. Deep Sea Research Part II 54:884–901, https://doi.org/10.1016/​j.dsr2.2006.08.021.

Hill, K., T. Moltmann, R. Proctor, and S. Allen. 2010. The Australian Integrated Marine Observing System: Delivering data streams to address national and international research priorities. Marine Technology Society Journal 44:65–72, https://doi.org/10.4031/MTSJ.44.6.13.

Kirk, J.T.O. 2011. Light and Photosynthesis in Aquatic Ecosystems, 3rd ed. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 662 pp. 

Lourey, M.J., J.R. Dunn, and J. Waring. 2006. A mixed-layer nutrient climatology of Leeuwin Current and Western Australian shelf waters: Seasonal nutrient dynamics and biomass. Journal of Marine Systems 59:25–51, https://doi.org/10.1016/​j.jmarsys.2005.10.001.

Pattiaratchi, C.B., B. Hollings, M. Woo, and T. Welhena. 2011. Dense shelf water formation along the south-west Australian inner shelf. Geophysical Research Letters 38, L10609, https://doi.org/10.1029/2011GL046816.

Pearce, A.F., and R.W. Griffiths. 1991. The mesoscale structure of the Leeuwin Current: A comparison of laboratory models and satellite imagery. Journal of Geophysical Research 96:16,739–16,757, https://doi.org/10.1029/91JC01712.

Pearce, A.F., and C. Pattiaratchi. 1999. The Capes Current: A summer countercurrent flowing past Cape Leeuwin and Cape Naturaliste, Western Australia. Continental Shelf Research 19:401–420, https://doi.org/10.1016/S0278-4343(98)00089-2.

Rudnick, D.L., R.E. Davis, C.C. Eriksen, D.M. Fratantoni, and M.J. Perry. 2004. Underwater gliders for ocean research. Marine Technology Society Journal 38:73–84, https://doi.org/10.4031/002533204787522703.

Sherman, J., R.E. Davis, W.B. Owens, and J. Valdes. 2001. The autonomous underwater glider “Spray.” IEEE Journal of Oceanic Engineering 26:437–446, https://doi.org/10.1109/48.972076.

Smith, R.L., A. Huyer, J.S. Godfrey, and J.A. Church. 1991. The Leeuwin Current off Western Australia. Journal of Physical Oceanography 21:323–345, https://doi.org/10.1175/1520-0485(1991)021<0323:TLCOWA>2.0.CO;2.

Testor, P., G. Meyers, C. Pattiaratchi, R. Bachmayer, D. Hayes, S. Pouliquen, L. Petit de la Villeon, T. Carval, A. Ganachaud, L. Gourdeau, and others. 2010. Gliders as a component of future observing systems. In Proceedings of OceanObs’09: Sustained Ocean Observations and Information for Society (Vol. 2), Venice, Italy, September 21–25, 2009, J. Hall, D.E. Harrison, and D. Stammer, eds, ESA Publication WPP-306, https://doi.org/10.5270/OceanObs09.cwp.89.

Woo, M., and C.B. Pattiaratchi. 2008. Hydrography and water masses off the western Australian coast. Deep Sea Research Part I 55:1,090–1,104, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.dsr.2008.05.005.

Woo, M., and C.B. Pattiaratchi. 2010. How the Capes Current ends: An investigation of a west Australian coastal current using an autonomous ocean glider. Proceedings of the 15th Physics of Estuaries and Coastal Seas (PECS) Conference, Colombo, Sri Lanka, September 14–17, 2010, https://doi.org/10.13140/2.1.4854.6244

Wooster, W.S., and J.L. Reid. 1963. Eastern boundary currents. Pp. 253–279 in The Sea. M.N. Hill, ed, Pergamon Press.

Copyright & Usage

This is an open access article made available under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution, and reproduction in any medium or format as long as users cite the materials appropriately, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate the changes that were made to the original content. Images, animations, videos, or other third-party material used in articles are included in the Creative Commons license unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If the material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons license, users will need to obtain permission directly from the license holder to reproduce the material.