About Underwater Gliders

Gliders are a unique and important observing system used to serve a variety of subsurface observing missions. Gliders can monitor water currents, temperature, tagged animals and conditions that reveal effects from storms, impacts on fisheries, and the quality of our water. This information creates a more complete picture of what is happening in the ocean, as well as trends scientists might be able to detect. These versatile vehicles collect information from deep water, as well as at the surface, at lower cost and less risk than ever before. As scientists deploy more gliders, they are revolutionizing how we observe our ocean. These robots propel us closer to that revolution.

The IOOS Office has taken an active interest in profiling glider observing platforms over the last few years as their role has begun to increase and show extensive value in subsurface water column observing. There is a lot of capacity in the IOOS Regional Associations and there has been interest from the community in looking for opportunities to collaborate and expand the impact and value of profiling gliders. As a result we have developed a glider network white paper, established a glider data assembly center and established an Underwater Glider User Group (UG2). All of these activities are intended to expand the understanding and use of gliders. Additional information can be found at gliders.ioos.us.

Glider applications include:

  • Hurricane intensity forecasting
  • Ecosystem dynamics monitoring
  • Fisheries management
  • Marine mammal monitoring 
  • Monitoring impacts of offshore wind development
  • Harmful Algal Bloom (HAB) and hypoxia events 
  • Marine heat waves
  • Hydrographic mapping
  • Ocean acidification
  • Climate monitoring

Glider Data Assembly Center

The Glider Data Assembly Center (DAC) represents the most comprehensive coordination the IOOS Program is providing to coordinate gliders across the Regional Associations and the nation with some international participation. The mission of the Glider DAC is to provide glider operators with a simple process for submitting glider data sets to a centralized location, enabling the data to be visualized, analyzed, widely distributed via existing web services and the Global Telecommunications System (GTS) and archived at the National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI). To learn more about it, go to our partner site at gliders.ioos.us/data.

Underwater Glider User Group

The primary goals of the Underwater Glider User Group (UG2) are to enable increased engagement with the glider community and to advance the coordinated use of glider observing systems to meet global, national and regional sub-surface observing requirements. To see how we strive to achieve these goals and for the latest information, please visit underwatergliders.org.