Moored Observations in the Western Gulf of Maine - 2006 to 2012

James Irish
Research Professor


Friday, Feb. 22, 2013, 3:00pm
Chase 130

UNH has four buoys deployed in the Western Gulf of Maine in support of scientific and engineering studies. The small environmental monitoring buoy was built in 2000 to support engineering and scientific studies of the Open Ocean Aquaculture program, providing wave, current and water property observations. This past fall, it was used in alternate energy testsof a Neptune Wave Power a development buoy.

A Datawell waverider buoy has been deployed on Jeffreys Ledge since 2008. It measures waves as well as sea surface temperature (used by the Grays Maine National Weather Service model). Time series, directional spectra, significant wave height and dominate wave period are observed every half hour and published on several wave sites for general use.

UNH is studying CO2 gas exchange, ocean acidification, air-sea dynamics, and associated biological processes in the western Gulf of Maine with twobuoys and ship observations. The Isles of Shoals CO2 buoy has been deployed jointly with NOAA’s Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory northeast of the Isles of Shoals since 2006. Over 6 years of CO2 buoy data have helped quantify the seasonal air-sea flux cycle of CO2 in the Western Gulf of Maine.The buoy is now a node in near-term ocean carbon cycle process control experiments and longer term ocean acidification monitoring.

The Jeffreys Ledge Moored Observatory is a development mooring testing new techniques and is deployed east of Gloucester, MA near the waverider buoy. This mooring is testing the direct covariance measurement of wind stress using a 3-D sonic anemometer with a motion package to remove buoy motion. A fast-rate atmospheric CO2 sensor is mounted by the anemometer to evaluate its potential for direct covariance gas flux measurements. Both the Jeffreys Ledge and Isles of Shoals buoys have additional meteorological and oceanographic sensors to provide supporting measurements.Selected preliminary data show problems and successes of these efforts.


Jim Irish has a Ph.D. from Scripps Institution of Oceanography, 1971.

  • Research Professor, Ocean Engineering
  • Oceanographer Emeritus, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

Research Areas

Ocean instruments, their calibration, response and the methodology of their use. Buoys, moorings and modeling of moored observing systems. Physical oceanography of the coastal ocean, including waves, tides, currents and water mass property observations and analysis. Acoustic instrumentation for bottom sediment and bedload transport, for remote observations of sediment and for fish surveys.

Research Emphasis

Research involves defining scientific problems in conjunction with other researchers, developing and deploying new instrumentation to collect remote environmental data, understanding instrument calibrations, behavior, and response, and participating in the analysis of these data to improve our understanding of the various processes occurring in the ocean. Specific research activities include:

  • Dynamic processes due to the tides and the associated stress, mixing, and advection of material.
  • Tidal analysis and predictions from bottom pressure and ocean current observations.
  • The generation and propagation of internal waves, internal tides and internal solitary waves.
  • Sea-water heating and cooling, water mass formation, and stability and mixing.
  • Sediment transport processes, particularly in the coastal ocean under wave forcing.
  • Optical and acoustic imaging of suspended sediment, bedload sediment and bedforms in relation to wave and current forcing.
  • Development, deployment and evaluation of new, remote oceanographic instrumentation systems utilizing microprocessors and telemetry.
  • Development of analysis methods and tools to reduce oceanographic observations.
  • A "knowledge-based system" approach to sampling the environment by taking advantage of the power of microprocessors to conditionally sample intermittent oceanic processes.
  • Development and use of acoustic, fiber optics, radio, and satellite telemetry techniques to return data from the field and the control remote instruments in the field.
  • Development of techniques for using new sensors in the ocean, including understanding the calibrations, calibration histories and the sensor behavior and response effects on data.