Even during the ongoing restrictions in everyday life due to the worldwide Corona epidemic we were very lucky to have our first surface drifter project taking place in 2020. Starting in May and thanks to the great personal commitment of Dr. Jacobo Martín and Dr. Gustavo Ferreyra (both CADIC) and the great help of the Argentine Coast Guard (Prefectura Naval Argentina) a total of 12 surface drifters had been deployed (in pairs of two) along the Beagle Channel.

Under the supervision of Jens Meyerjürgens the drifters had previously been built by our colleagues at ICBM in Wilhelmshaven and then been shipped to Ushuaia, Argentina. Surface drifters are floating plastic tubes fitted with a GPS transmitter inside sending their exact location information every 5-15 minutes. They do not have any active drive of their own but passively drift along the water surface driven mainly by wind and ocean currents.

The experiment itself seeks to explore the circulation inside the Beagle Channel and also the fate of the water that leaves the channel. The results provide useful information on the connectivity between the coastal waters of the BC and open-sea ecosystems of the Southwest Atlantic Ocean.

With this it provides information on the dispersal patterns of water properties and contaminants (litter, algal toxins, and other potentially harmful substances) from Beagle Channel into the Atlantic Ocean. Due to the interplay of large-scale currents and meso-scale structures the surface current paths are complex and often associated to thermal fronts.

Below you can find a first short animation of our first results. The animation is showing the daily positions of the drifters over the time period from May to October 2020. The colors in the back give the water sea surface temperatures (SST) of those given days. Please note that some of the drifters ran ashore quite early in the project which, given the hydrography of the BC, had to be expected. For further information or questions please contact us HERE.