delware environmental institute

UDaily: UD researchers monitor conditions in Delaware Bay aboard Cape May-Lewes ferry

UDaily: UD researchers monitor conditions in Delaware Bay aboard Cape May-Lewes ferry

The ferry serves a dual purpose: as it carries commuters and tourists across the bay, it measures water quality parameters like temperature, salinity, dissolved oxygen and chlorophyll, as well as atmospheric properties like pressure, temperature, humidity and wind speed. 

As families make their way down to the beach each summer day, a pleasant breeze moves up the sand to greet them. Known as the sea breeze, this gentle air current originates over the open water and is driven toward land by changes in surface heat and pressure between water and land.

According to Dana Veron, associate professor of geography in the University of Delaware’s College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment, the sea breeze serves a greater function than just cooling a lifeguard’s brow. When the sea breeze blows, it cools the coast and often drives insects away from the beaches. It also alters wind speed and direction, affecting conditions crucial for generation of electricity via wind power.

Veron is investigating what atmospheric and marine factors influence sea breeze, and how researchers can predict when sea breeze will occur.

“Ultimately, the ability to predict sea breeze presence could help us forecast how and when wind turbines, clean sources of renewable energy, will produce the most and the least energy,” said Veron.