August 15, 2017

Deploying Buoys: MIT Sea Grant summer UROP Noa Yoder

By Bayley Connors, BURECS

The AUV Lab of MIT Sea Grant has focused its latest efforts on understanding coastal ocean acidification and Noa Yoder, a rising junior at MIT, is interning with the lab’s research engineers, Michael Sacarny and Michael DeFilippo.

Yoder focused most of her efforts this past summer on a smart buoy, equipping the buoy with sensors that measure water quality and weather. The buoy will house a Eureka Sonde water probe, which measures; pH, chlorophyll, dissolved oxygen, and salinity from surrounding waters, giving researchers an accurate grasp on coastal characteristics. The Eureka Sonde is found just three-feet below a WS-700, an onboard weather sensor. The buoy will record conditions ranging from wind speed to solar radiation. The effects of weather upon other recorded variables are far too great to take chances with, and an independent sensor quells many concerns of certainty.

Researchers do not have to continuously visit the buoy to collect its findings; instead, they need only to open their laptops. The measurements taken from both the WS-700 and Eureka Sonde may be viewed remotely in real-time. Perhaps the best feature of the buoy, however, is its ability to collect data continuously. After deployed this summer, it will remain in the field until November, giving researchers a complete picture of daily and monthly changes.

This is critical to the buoy’s overall purpose: paint a comprehensive picture of coastal ocean acidification. The AUV Lab often depends on the data from other organizations, using algorithms to create maps of coastal areas. However, some areas have more data than others, and therefore contain more uncertainty – this are where the buoy is placed.

Yoder learned of this project by reaching out to Dr. Carolina Bastidas, a Research Scientist at MIT Sea Grant. Majoring in Ocean and Mechanical Engineering, Yoder will obtain important skills from the AUV Lab that will help her not only in her studies at MIT, but also in her career afterward. When not working in labs or on schoolwork, Yoder participates in athletics, often sailing and playing rugby.

Presently, her gaze is set outwards. “If we’re going to take care of our planet and keep living here,” Yoder says, “we really need to be taking care of our oceans.” She is ensuring that we understand how best to do that, one buoy deployment at a time.