URI oceanography professor to launch cutting-edge Saildrone from Newport Shipyard

Mission is to study how much carbon dioxide is absorbed by the Gulf Stream

Media Contact: Peter J. Hanlon, 401-874-6397 |

WHAT: University of Rhode Island Graduate School of Oceanography Assistant Professor Jaime Palter will be at the Newport Shipyard along with Saildrone spokesperson Nora Cohen to celebrate the launch of a cutting-edge, wind- and solar-powered unmanned surface vehicle (USV) called a Saildrone. The sailing drone will collect oceanographic and atmospheric data as part of a mission designed by Palter to follow the Gulf Stream for 30 days starting Jan. 31.

Palter is the recipient of a 2018 Saildrone Award, which provides 30 days of Saildrone-powered data collection, free of charge (equivalent to $1 million worth of research ship time), to the most impactful mission submitted during the year.

Palter’s mission is to better understand how much carbon dioxide is absorbed along the length of the Gulf Stream during the winter, and what causes the carbon dioxide to be absorbed. The National Science Foundation provided funding to embed a new carbon dioxide sensor developed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. By testing the new sensor in the challenging conditions of the Gulf Stream, Palter hopes that this mission to quantify carbon dioxide uptake, and better understand its key controls in the Gulf Stream, will provide a path forward to help close the global carbon budget.

Members of the media are invited to speak with both Palter and Cohen to discuss Saildrone and the research mission. Following discussion of the project, media are invited to the dock to see the Saildrone out of the water prior to its journey. The USV has a narrow 7-meter-long hull, 5-meter-tall wing, and a keel with a 2.5-meter draft.

WHO: Jaime Palter, assistant professor, URI Graduate School of Oceanography; Nora Cohen, Business Development and Government Relations Lead, Saildrone

WHEN: Wednesday, Jan. 30, 10:30 a.m.

WHERE: Belle’s Cafe at Newport Shipyard, 1 Washington St., Newport, R.I. There is parking available along Washington Street or in the public lot across from the Shipyard gate.

B-roll of a Saildrone at sea available here (see 2:25-2:45). Credit: NOAA Fisheries.

TO MAKE COVERAGE ARRANGEMENTS: Contact Peter Hanlon, URI Graduate School of Oceanography, 401-874-6397, peterhanlon@uri.edu