Ocean Glider Flight in the Presence of Surface Waves


Autonomous, buoyancy-driven ocean gliders are increasingly used as a platform for the measurement of turbulence microstructure. In the processing of such measurements, there is a sensitive (quartic) dependence of the turbulence dissipation rate ϵ on the speed of flow past the sensors, or alternatively, the speed of the glider through the ocean water column. The mechanics of glider flight is therefore examined by extending previous flight models to account for the effects of ocean surface waves. It is found that due to the relatively small buoyancy changes used to drive gliders, the surface wave-induced motion, superimposed onto the steady-state motion, follows to a good approximation the motion of the wave orbitals. Errors expected in measuring ϵ at the ocean near-surface due to wave-induced relative velocities are generally less than 10%. However, pressure perturbations associated with the wave motion can cause significant perturbations in the glider-measured pressure signal and consequently also in the measured vertical glider velocity signal. This effect of surface waves is only present in the shallow water regime. It arises from an incomplete cancellation of the wave-induced pressure perturbation with the hydrostatic component due to vertical glider displacements, whereas for deep-water waves this cancellation is complete.
QR Code: Link to publication