12.5 NOAA's New Currents Real-Time Buoy (CURBY) Supporting the Navigational Community

Thursday, 16 January 2020: 11:30 AM
158 (Boston Convention and Exhibition Center)
Katie Kirk, NOAA, Durham, NH; Univ. of New Hampshire, Durham, NH; and L. A. Fiorentino, R. Heitsenrether, G. Dusek, and C. Paternostro

A primary mission of the NOAA National Ocean Service (NOS) Center for Operational Oceanographic Products and Services (CO-OPS) is to maintain and update U.S. tidal current predictions to support safe and efficient marine navigation. Based on stakeholder requirements, CO-OPS completes current surveys along the U.S. coastal and estuarine environments by collecting at least one month of current observations at predetermined stations of navigational significance to perform a harmonic analysis. These current surveys typically occur every few decades; however, bathymetric changes from dredging, sediment transport, or hurricanes change tidal currents and require revisiting specific locations before a more comprehensive current survey can be completed. To address the need for a rapidly-deployable, near-surface current observation platform, CO-OPS developed a currents real-time buoy (CURBY). This platform enables quick response to environmental hazard emergencies (e.g., fate and transport monitoring of oil spills) and vessel collisions (i.e., understanding currents that may have contributed to navigational errors), and will be used as a survey tool to verify and reassess tidal currents in areas of significant bathymetric change. CURBY was deployed operationally for the first time in July, 2019 in the Delaware River near Philadelphia in response to the regional pilot captains’ requests to better resolve complex tidal currents near Petty Island prior to an upcoming current survey planned for 2021. The CURBY observations will be compared with nearby historical currents predictions at Petty Island, real-time currents observations near Philadelphia, and Delaware Bay hydrodynamic model information to determine differences in timing and magnitude, and possible discrepancies with historical predictions. The resulting currents measurements will be disseminated in an effort to improve existing CO-OPS tidal current predictions and associated navigational support products at this location. In addition to supporting the navigation community, the data collected will help validate numerical models and inform circulation studies supported by the academic community and other interested stakeholders.
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