Unusual helicopters may be spotted in the skies above South Jersey if you look up. Though sightings have been recorded all around the state, this week has seen more of them over South Jersey and Delaware’s Delaware Bay region.
The helicopters swoop low to the ground, carrying huge rings that look like hula hoops. Sometimes flying low over residences and wooded areas at only 100 feet above the ground. However, who are they, and why are they at this place?
The salinity of subsurface water is being tested, according to the USGS.
As part of the U.S. Geological Survey’s Next Generation Water Observing System project in the Delaware River Basin, low-level flights over Delaware Bay and neighboring regions in Delaware and New Jersey will start around July 8 and remain for up to a month, according to the USGS.
The data will be used by experts from the USGS and the University of Delaware to better understand groundwater salinity and underground geology. The likelihood that saltwater may affect local water supplies has increased as a result of rising sea levels, increasing coastal storm frequency and severity, and rising groundwater demand.
The USGS claims that future changes in groundwater salinity in the Delaware Bay region may be compared to the results from this survey as a standard.
The helicopter will follow pre-planned flying patterns while hovering between 100 and 200 feet above the ground. To measure minute electromagnetic signals that can be used to map objects underneath the Earth’s surface, a sensor that resembles a big hula-hoop will be dragged beneath the helicopter.
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The helicopter system will be visible for a brief amount of time from any position because of the flight lines’ proximity to the beach and their distance of just under two miles when passing over Delaware Bay. To survey the amount of salty water upstream, several flight lines will follow the routes of adjacent rivers, according to the USGS.