The Glider Program at the Bedford Institute of Oceanography

The Coastal Glider Program at the Bedford Institute of Oceanography in Dartmouth Nova Scotia, is a multi-regional program to study water chemistry, biology, and physics in Canadian waters. Fisheries and Oceans Canada is using cutting edge technology, like autonomous gliders, to monitor changes in our oceans.


The glider program is a new program which we're using to do regular monitoring offshore of Nova Scotia in this case as part of the Atlantic zone monitoring program.

That program is a multi region program to study water chemistry, biology, and physics of the Atlantic Canada area… and the idea is that the gliders are going to be an enhancement to our several times a year sampling at certain sections along those regions and it will provide more continuous and higher resolution data than we get from our shipboard samples.

The waters around here are warming at an unprecedented rate a lot of the work that Fisheries and Oceans has done in the last number of years have really revealed the long time scale changes of how the ecosystems how the physical and biological systems are changing in a warming climate.

The gliders are driven by buoyancy and what that means is that they can change their density so that they sink or float.

When they do that they have little wings on the back and that direct the glider so that it will actually sink or float in a kind of sideways direction to give it some Propulsion.

This is a pretty neat instrument to use to monitor the ocean, it's autonomous and it's low cost maintenance equipment this is one of the instruments of the future. What we were doing today was prepping the glider for a deployment basically we have to get the glider on deck.

We communicate with it to make sure that it's behaving the way that we expect that we've got communication with it, we put it into a surfacing mode and then once we've got it over the stern of the ship we do a few test dives with it we usually do one with a buoy just to make sure that it's dive profile looks ideal in terms of what we want to see when it's actually doing a mission and then once we've verified all of that we can untie it from the buoy let it go and send it on its mission.

The main sensor that we use on a glider is what's called a CTD.

It stands for conductivity temperature and depth really the conductivity is a way that we measure salinity in the water so we want to know how salty the water is we can measure its electrical conductivity.

There's a temperature sensor on it that gives us the water temperature and a pressure sensor which we can convert into depth.

We also have some optical sensors which give us a bit more information about the biology and the the chemistry of the water that we're sampling.

The gliders that we're using have chlorophyll sensors so we can measure chlorophyll which we use as a proxy for how much phytoplankton there is growing in the water, and for the third thing that I just mentioned the CDOM, it's a coloured dissolved organic matter is the technical term.

It tends to change the colour of the water, how the water responds to light and absorbs light which is important for organisms that live in the water because they need sunlight to grow.

If the water is very full of this color dissolved organic matter, then it changes the depth at which light can penetrate into the ocean and therefore changes the ecosystem response to surface conditions.

They are a very exciting tool I think that that is a lot of fun to work with it's really exciting to be kind of on the cutting edge of how oceanographers are collecting data now.

In terms of being able to identify priorities being able to identify questions that are really going to become important in the near future they're an invaluable tool.