Gliders -1 What is a Glider?

Gliders -1 What is a Glider?

I’m McKensie Daugherty, your host for On the Ocean. This month we will be talking about one of the instruments oceanographers use to gather critical data about the ocean and what’s happening inside of it, Gliders. A Glider is an underwater autonomous vehicle that uses buoyancy to move through the water column. Gliders are made of a carbon fiber material, and are usually bright yellow in color. At Texas A&M University, researchers use a Teledyne model known as Slocum (named after Joshua Slocum, the first man to single-handedly sail around the world). The Texas A&M fleet includes four gliders. Two gliders are shelf gliders, diving from a range of 0-200 meters, and are named Reveille and Howdy. The other 2 are deep gliders, diving to a depth of up to 1,000 meters, named Sverdrup and Stommel. The gliders move by the physics of buoyancy. They move up and down in a sinusoidal motion using a buoyancy pump to dive and ascend in the water column. The pump changes the position of a diaphragm in the glider, this changes the glider’s volume in the water. The change in volume results in a change in buoyancy and therefore the glider moves up or down. The duration of the mission depends on the type of battery used in the glider. Alkaline batteries provide around a month of energy, while lithium provides up to 3 months of energy for a mission. Gliders measure large amounts of oceanic parameters as they glide through the water column giving scientists a real-time look at the composition of the ocean at a given location and depth as they move from place to place. They are deployed for scientific research and should never be touched or tampered with. Always navigate around them, as they can cause serious damage to vessels. Gliders are an integral part of oceanic research, and we will discuss how they work, what they do, and some of the problems encountered when working with machines on the open ocean. This has been On the Ocean, a program made possible by the Department of Oceanography and a production of KAMU-FM on the campus of Texas A&M University in College Station. For more information and links, please go to and click On the Ocean.


Elizabeth Ramey ’16 and Allison Pace ’15 with Steve DiMarco onboard Texas A&M-Galveston’s RV Trident.


GERG Glider in Northern Gulf of Mexico


More Information and Links:

Contributing Professor Dr. Steve DiMarco:

Glider Facebook Page: (you can track the missions from here!)