Sunday, August 8, 2010

Did Somebody Say XBT Party?

I did!! What is an XBT, you ask? Well, XBT stands for Expendable Bathythermograph Probe and it is a disposable temperature probe that the science team launches from the boat once every twenty-four hours. Our XBT brand of choice is made by Lockheed Martin Sippican Proprietary, and comes in two different flavors, T-5(max depth of 1830m, max vessel speed of 6 knots) and T-7(max depth of 760m, max vessel speed of 15 knots). But what does an XBT do and what can it tell us? Well, an XBT actually contains a wire link which transmits data to our main lab's computer, which in turn stores information on depth versus water temperature and depth versus sound velocity. This data can then be pooled together from several different research vessels to compile weather and climate forecasting as well as climate research. But why would we care about sound velocity in the water? Once we can calculate accurate estimates of the speed of sound through water, scientists can then use this information to create more precise bathymetric maps. To demonstrate how these depth vs. temperature and depth vs. sound velocity profiles can vastly change across an ocean basin I present some of our recent findings: the first set of profiles, in red, were collected at the beginning of the trip in close proximity to Oahu. The next set, in blue, were collected off the coast of Japan in transit back to our study area.

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