2019 Arctic Mission


US Arctic

Date Range

2019-05-14 to 2019-10-12


Open Data



53.84 to 75.22


-178.94 to -147.82

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Saildrone Unmanned Surface Vehicle (USV)

Platform IDs



The 2019 Arctic Saildrone Mission was a joint effort between NOAA’s Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory (PMEL) and Alaska Fisheries Science Center (AFSC), the NOAA/University of Washington Joint Institute for the Study of the Ocean and Atmosphere (Joint Institute for the Study of Atmosphere and Ocean [JISAO]), and the National Ocean Partnership Program (NOPP) Arctic MISST (Multi-sensor Improved Sea Surface Temperature) study.

Six saildrones (SD 1033, SD 1034, SD 1035, SD 1036, SD 1037, SD 1041) were launched from Dutch Harbor, AK, on May 15, 2019. Five of the vehicles sailed into the Chukchi Sea: SD 1033 surveyed lines in Distributed Biological Observatories (DBO) 1-5; the remaining four ran transects in the Chukchi Sea approaching the southern sea ice edge to measure air-sea heat and momentum flux near sea ice. The sixth vehicle (SD 1041) remained in the Bering Sea to measure fish acoustic backscatter and conduct focal follows of threatened fur seals for AFSC. Over the course of three months, the fleet traveled more than 36,000 nautical miles and set a Saildrone northern latitude record of 75.22°N.

Each vehicle was equipped with the standard Saildrone sensor suite to measure solar irradiance, air temperature, and relative humidity, barometric pressure, surface skin temperature, wind speed and direction, wave height and period, seawater temperature and salinity, chlorophyll fluorescence, and dissolved oxygen. Two vehicles (SD 1033, SD 1034) carried ASVCO2 systems to measure seawater pH, temperature, salinity and partial pressure of carbon dioxide (pCO2). Five vehicles (SD 1033, SD 1034, SD 1035, SD 1036, SD 1037) were equipped with 300 kHz Acoustic Doppler Current Profilers (ADCPs) to measure near-surface currents. SD 1041 carried a Simrad WBT Mini and ES38-18/200-18C fisheries echo sounder.

During the mission, the vehicles experienced about two dozen encounters with free-floating sea ice. SD 1035 was caught in sea ice and rendered barely maneuverable with rudder damage on about August 24. Its mission ended early on September 10, after which it was towed into Point Barrow.

The remaining saildrones sampled along Bering Sea transects and returned to Dutch Harbor on October 11 after sailing side-by-side for a few hours for an end-of-mission comparison.

Other supporting measurements were made during this mission: The PMEL/WHOI/JISAO Arctic Heat Open Science Experiment dropped AXBTs July 16 – 22. USCGC Healy met SD 1033 on August 11 for a pCO2 cross-calibration. SD 1034 and SD 1035 sailed near the sites of periodic surfacings of Marine Robotic Vehicles (MRV) Air-Launched Autonomous Micro-Observer (ALAMO) float 9234. In August, SD 1036 followed a University of Washington Applied Physics Lab Seaglider in a bow-tie pattern near 73°N, 148°W.

This dataset is hosted by NOAA PMEL and contains a subset of atmospheric and oceanographic variables from the mission.

Spatial Coverage

Latitude 53.84 to 75.22
Longitude -178.94 to -147.82

License Terms

“Open data” means this data set has been sponsored for use in any research or educational purposes. 2019 © SAILDRONE Inc. All Rights Reserved. These Data and any resultant Product are the property of SAILDRONE. At SAILDRONE's sole discretion, these Data may be used for research or educational activities only. You may not use, share or sell the Data for any other purpose including for commercial purposes, or alternatively, have any unauthorized third party use or sell the Data, either for any research, educational and/or commercial purpose(s), without the express prior consent of SAILDRONE.