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Adopt a NOAA Drifter for Earth Day

Drifting buoys (drifters) move with the ocean currents around the globe. A drifting buoy floats in the ocean water and is powered by batteries located in the dome. The sea surface temperature and GPS data that are collected are sent to a satellite and then to a land station where the data can be accessed. This map displays the array of drifters that are currently deployed.

Drifters are continually being deployed from ships around the world. They last for approximately 400 days unless they collide with land (like an island) in the ocean, or their batteries fail. Each drifter is assigned a WMO ID # (World Meteorological Organization Identification Number) so the data can be archived. As drifters go off-line they need to be replenished. Through the Adopt a Drifter Program your class can adopt one of these drifters.

If you don’t want to adopt a drifter at this time, you can still access the lesson plans or have your class track drifters that are being used by other classes. So far, 34 schools have adopted a drifting buoy. The student portion of the website also contains a great deal of student-friendly information about how the drifters are deployed, how they work, and some of the uses for the data the buoys provide.

Image Courtesy of NOAA.

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