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Released May 24, 2004

SOUTHERN MISS MARINE SCIENTISTS TO LAUNCH
NEW OCEAN OBSERVING SYSTEM

STENNIS SPACE CENTER, Miss. -- This spring, researchers from The University of Southern Mississippi's Department of Marine Science will launch a new ocean observing system in the central Gulf of Mexico to gather detailed data on the weather and water in the central Gulf.

Funded by $1.6 million from the Office of Naval Research (ONR), the new system called CenGOOS (Central Gulf Ocean Observing System), will begin operations with a single three-meter discus buoy outfitted with sensitive oceanographic and meteorological data-collecting instrumentation. The buoy will have a high-resolution GPS receiver and other instruments to measure wind speed, atmospheric pressure, air temperature, humidity, waves, ocean currents, and sea temperature and salinity. Soon after deployment, the data will be accessible on Southern Miss' CenGOOS Web site.

"The Hydrographic Science Research Center (HSRC) and its partners, propose to help advance our ability to determine sea level elevation and vessel under keel clearance by conducting research to advance the modeling of tropospheric delay of GPS signals used for 3-D navigation in the marine environment," said Dr. Stephan Howden, principal investigator for the ONR grant. Tropospheric delays refer to the refraction of GPS signals by the neutral atmosphere that result in positioning errors.

"If hydrographers could accurately measure sea level relative to a chart datum, one of the main uncertainties and delays in producing bathymetry [water level depth] data could be eliminated," Howden said.

The HSRC's Dr. Sunil Bisnath, an assistant research scientist specializing in real-time kinematic GPS, said the ultimate result of better handling of atmospheric error will be increased accuracy, reliability, and availability of precise GPS positioning (within a few inches) in coastal areas.

The Geochemical and Environmental Research Group (GERG) at Texas A & M University in College Station, Texas, is assembling the first buoy in collaboration with Southern Miss.

This research project is coordinated through the Southern Miss Department of Marine Science, located at Stennis Space Center in Hancock County.

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May 27, 2004 1:29 PM

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