Published in Ocean Optics XV, January 1, 2001, pages 1-7. This publication is in the public domain. Published by The Office of Naval Research.
A multi-platform inter-disciplinary observation network has been operating at the Rutgers University Long-term Ecosystem Observatory (LEO) since 1996, with real-time capabilities beginning in July 1999. The network integrates numerous remote (satellites and shore- based), stationary (surface and subsurface), moveable (ships and AUVs) observation systems. The observation network provides spatially extensive updates of the physics, optics, chemistry and biology on time scales of an hour or less which are communicated in real-time to shipboard scientists and AUV operators. This rapid environmental assessment capability is already changing current paradigms for ocean adaptive sampling strategies. For example, in the well-sampled ocean, where forecast errors are dominated by uncertainties in the model physics or future boundary conditions rather than initial conditions, ensemble forecasts with differing model parameterizations can be used to identify regions in which additional data can be used to keep a model on track. Furthermore these approaches are key for sampling episodic events that play a disproportionately large role in driving the biogeochemistry of the coastal ocean. Results from the 1999 and 2000 seasons demonstrate the usefulness of the LEO network to identify, track and sample small-scale (10 m) features that would otherwise go unnoticed with traditional sampling approaches. For example, during HyCODE 2000, real-time data from physical survey vessels identified offshore convergence features. These observations combined with the surface current CODAR measurements were used to adjust and successfully maneuver other ships that were outfitted with bio-optical instrumentation. Bioluminescent Ceratium fusus, a red-tide dinoflagellate, were observed in the convergence zone. The covergence zone resulted from material collecting against a southward flowing alongshore jet of low saline water and tidally driven onshore flow of offshore waters. The feature was dramatically impacted by tidal forcing with convergence at high tide and dispersion at low tide.