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Global Drifter Program Operations During COVID-19
Jessica Mkitarian
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Global Drifter Program Operations During COVID-19

Deployments for NOAA's Global Drifter Program (GDP) continue to be conducted by partners around the world despite the pandemic. Recent deployments were conducted starting on May 12th in the North Atlantic from the Icelandic Fisheries R/V Bjarni Saemundsson, and in the subtropical North Pacific by the S/V Kwai, in collaboration with the Ocean Voyages Institute, starting on May 6th. The Ocean Voyages Institute, based in Sausalito, CA and founded by Mary Crowley, collaborates with the Scripps Lagrangian Drifter Laboratory and the GDP within the framework of a multi-disciplinary group of NASA funded researchers (FloatEco) and is looking to expand their partnership with the GDP.

The Global Drifter Program array supports improved numerical weather prediction, ocean state estimation, and calibration and validation of satellite sea surface temperatures. The Global Climate Observing System (GCOS, formerly JCOMMOPS) goal for this array is for it to consist of  more than 1,250 drifters covering over 80% of the open ocean in 5x5 degree squares. As of the week of May 11, 2020 the array consisted of over 1,500 drifters covering 85% of the open ocean. Thanks to a healthy array with good coverage immediately before the pandemic and these recent deployments, the array continues to meet JCOMMOPS requirements. GDP drifter data flow, data quality control, and the creation of value-added products continues unimpeded by the pandemic. 

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