Alaska wave buoy gets carried away

The buoy traveled over 200 miles from near Yakutat to near Cordova, Alaska (Image: Provided by ACEP)

A Spoondrift wave buoy that ACEP’s researchers deployed as part of Sandia National Laboratories project to improve real-time forecasts of available wave energy, broke free of its mooring in Alaska just a week before its scheduled retrieval.

Jeremy Kasper and Stephanie Jump, the researchers Alaska Center for Energy and Power (ACEP) from traveled to Yakutat, a community along the northeast coast of the Gulf of Alaska, to retrieve the buoy, as well seafloor oceanographic moorings.

The moorings were deployed as part of the Yakutat Wave Energy Project, funded by Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM). The project aims to assess the economic feasibility of installing wave energy converters in the area, as well as their potential environmental implications.

The wave buoy, able to provide live updates on ocean wave heights and directions, used for the Yakutat project, was originally anchored off Cannon Beach.

The solar-powered buoy broke free on September 28, 2018, and started its journey up the coast.

Its built-in GPS tracking feature allowed ACEP’s Alaska Hydrokinetic Energy Research Center team to get live location updates during its adventurous cruise.

A resident of Alaskan town of Cordova found the buoy more than 200 miles up north from its deployment location, and contacted the researchers early in November, after which the buoy was shipped back to the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

The Yakutat Wave Energy Project will collect scientific and technical data sufficient for complete economic feasibility assessment, and establish firm scientific understanding of seabed dynamics, ambient underwater noise, and fish and marine mammal presence and habitat requirements in the project area offshore Alaska.

The three-year project is expected to be completed in 2020.

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