Modern surface drifters

With the advent of modern satellite navigation, it has become possible to track floating buoys quickly and easily. A series of position fixes can be used to work out the speed and direction of the current. Modern surface buoys are deployed from ships and carry low-power satellite transmitters with a position accuracy of less than 1 km. They also carry instrument packages so that they can measure sea-surface temperature and barometric pressure whilst drifting. Most of the float lies below water to minimize wind influence, and they are generally fitted with net drogues which can be deployed at set depths down to several hundreds of metres. Currently the World Ocean Circulation Experiment (see Section 1.3.4) has deployed several thousand such drifters since 1991 to provide track charts for the upper ocean.

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