King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) is being built near Thuwal,
Saudi Arabia with the goal of becoming a world-class, graduate-level research university. As a
step toward this goal, KAUST has partnered with the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
(WHOI) to undertake various studies of the oceanography of the Red Sea in order to establish a
research program in ocean sciences by the time the university opens its doors in the fall of 2009.
Two of the KAUST-WHOI research projects involve deployment of surface moorings and
associated instrumentation to measure physical properties of the Red Sea, such as temperature,
salinity, and currents, at four locations off the coast of Saudi Arabia. The goal of these
measurements is to better understand the evolution and dynamics of the circulation and air-sea
interaction in the Red Sea. Two surface moorings and two bottom tripods (PI, Steven Lentz)
were deployed at 50-55-m depth near 21°57'N, 38°46'E over the continental shelf close to the
Saudi coast. An additional surface mooring/bottom tripod pair was deployed near 21°58'N,
38°50'E at the outer fringe of a reef system directly onshore of the shelf mooring/tripod pairs (PI,
Lentz). The coastal moorings carry instruments to estimate temperature, salinity, and
fluorescence; and the nearby bottom tripods support instruments to measure bottom pressure and
the vertical profile of the currents. Additional instruments, principally bottom temperature
sensors, were deployed over the reef system onshore of the shelf moorings. One air-sea
interaction mooring (PI, J. Thomas Farrar) was deployed at 693-m depth near 22°10'N, 38°30'E.
The air-sea interaction mooring carries instruments for measuring temperature, salinity, (water)
velocity, winds, air temperature, humidity, barometric pressure, incident sunlight, infrared
radiation, precipitation, and surface waves. A coastal meteorological tower was also installed on
the KAUST campus in Thuwal (PI, Farrar).
These measurements are of value because there are few time series of oceanographic and
meteorological properties of the Red Sea that can be used to characterize the circulation, test
numerical models of the Red Sea circulation, or formulate theoretical models of the physics of
the Red Sea circulation. These measurements will permit a characterization of the Red Sea
circulation with high temporal resolution at the mooring locations, and accurate in-situ estimates
of the air-sea exchange of heat, freshwater, and momentum.
In October 2008, a cruise was made aboard the R/V Oceanus to deploy the shelf and air-sea
interaction moorings, and other fieldwork (e.g., tower instrumentation and deployment of reef
instrumentation) was conducted after the cruise. Some additional data were collected during the
cruise with shipboard instrumentation. This report documents the cruise and the data collected
during the fall 2008 fieldwork.
Funding for this report was provided by the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST)
under a cooperative research agreement with Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.
Woods Hole Open Access Server