Adopt a Drifter


Narrator: Covering 70% of the Earth's surface, the ocean plays a major role in our climate, weather, and living conditions for plants and animals.

Through the NOAA Adopt a Drifter Program, kids are learning about ocean currents in real time, as scientists collect and analyze ocean data.  

First, drifting buoys are deployed from ships at sea. As they are carried along ocean currents, "drifters" measure and transmit sea surface temperature data and positioning coordinates via satellite for about 400 days.

Surface ocean currents are a continuous, directed movement of ocean water generated by forces such as the wind and steered by Earth's rotation. Surface currents carry heat from place to place, which affects our planet's climates.

Students follow their adopted drifter and analyze the sea surface temperature data in their classrooms as it's posted online. The data are then used by both ocean scientists and students to track warm and cold currents.

Understanding where and how fast the warm and cold currents are flowing is useful in several ways.  It helps provide more accurate weather forecasts, track oil spills, and learn where drifting plants, animals, and migrating species travel. 

Adopt a Drifter is science in action – giving kids an inside view of how the ocean connects us all.