Sea-Change in Ocean Observations on Moored Buoys from the National Data Buoy Center (NDBC)

Friday, 19 December 2014
Richard H Bouchard1, James Elliott2, Daniel Pounder2 and Kevin Kern1, (1)National Data Buoy Center, Stennis Space Center, MS, United States, (2)Pacific Architects and Engineers (PAE), Stennis Space Center, MS, United States
The presentation will provide the technical specifications, the systems engineering processes, and preliminary results from laboratory and field tests, as the National Data Buoy Center (NDBC) undertakes a fundamental and broad transformation (sea-change) of its ocean observing systems on moored buoys. This transformation is necessary to gain efficiencies in maintaining operational ocean observation networks and to increase their reliability, which will reduce maintenance costs. The presentation will also compare and contrast existing and planned systems.

The Self-Contained Ocean Observations Payload (SCOOP) takes advantage of the advances in communications and small, efficient, multi-purpose sensors to reduce the size and costs of systems and expand the suite of available real-time ocean observations. The communications will allow NDBC to increase the precision and decrease the latency of the observations. The hallmark of SCOOP is the modularity of the payloads that allow NDBC to host specialized systems, for the oceanographic research community, which may include observing ocean acidification and algal blooms, and tracking marine life, alongside its standard suite of meteorological, oceanographic, and wave systems. SCOOP will include cameras, primarily to document vandalism incidents, but they can also serve to corroborate many of the automatic observations.

The two-year integration project – focused on recapitalization of NDBC’s network of Hurricane Weather buoys - is aided by NDBC’s 40 years of experience with marine observations and its continually improving approach to testing. Testimony to the rigor of NDBC’s development and test procedures is that the World Meteorological Organization and the Intergovernmental Ocean Commission have designated NDBC as the first Regional Marine Instrumentation Center (RMIC).

Integral to the fielding of these new systems is a Mission Control Center (MCC) performing the real-time, specialized monitoring and analyses and operating marine autonomous vehicles and sub-surface profiling vehicles that augment and expand upon the moored buoy observations.

Plans are to make the first operational deployments of SCOOP in the Atlantic Ocean in time to provide the expanded suite of ocean observations during the 2015 hurricane season.