Drifter Buoy, Launched by Sue Cullumber (2013), Travels 528 Nautical Miles

While aboard NOAA Ship Gordon Gunter in June 2013, Sue Cullumber (TAS 2013) launched a  Global Drifter Buoy (GDB) off the coast of New Jersey. That buoy has now traveled 528 nautical miles.

You can track all the drifters currently at sea on this interactive map. 

You can view Ms. Cullumber’s drifter buoy lesson plan that uses buoy tracking data.

In Ms. Cullumber’s TAS blog, “Drifting Away”, she explains what a GDB is and how her students at Howard Gray School in Arizona were part of the deployment.

The GDB is a satellite tracked surface drifter buoy. It consists of a surface buoy about the size of a beach ball, a drogue, which acts like a sea anchor and is attached underwater to the buoy by a 15-meter-long tether. The drifter has a transmitter that sends data to passing satellites which provides latitude and longitude of the drifter’s locations. 

Ms. Cullumber’s students designed stickers that were used to decorate the buoy. The stickers have messages about the school, Arizona and NOAA so that if the buoy is ever retrieved this will provide information about who launched it. In the upcoming year, students will track the buoy from the satellite-based system Argos that is used to collect and process drifter data.

Global Drifter Buoy in the Atlantic Ocean.
Sue Cullumber's Global Drifter Buoy in the Atlantic Ocean