SCOOP — New Ocean Observing System for NDBC

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Thursday, 8 January 2015: 11:15 AM
221A-C (Phoenix Convention Center - West and North Buildings)
Craig Kohler, NOAA/NDBC, Stennis Space Center, MS

Handout (4.4 MB)

The National Data Buoy Center (NDBC) is the world-wide leader in providing high quality ocean observations. The first coastal weather buoy systems, developed over four decades ago, were enormous (10 and 12 meter discus type) due to the large power systems and electronics racks. Weather buoys provide hourly wind speed and direction, air temperature and pressure, humidity, sea surface temperature and wave measurements. Through more recent years, electronics and power systems have shrunk allowing the use of smaller hulls (3 meter discus) and moorings. However, even these observing systems are complex, labor intensive, prone to human error, require disassembly prior to shipping, and servicing requires a heavy lift capable vessel.

NDBC is currently working on the next generation system named the Self-Contained Ocean Observing Platform (SCOOP) and is taking advantage of the latest in technology. The system is expected to provide the same high quality data but be significantly smaller, less expensive and more reliable. In addition the system will provide ocean temperature profiles to assist hurricane forecasters.

One of the biggest threats to NDBC system performance is vandalism. Damage caused by either intentional or unintentional actions can result in sensor failures and even loss of the entire buoy. NDBC is actively engaged in developing methods for reducing vandalism including cameras and other deterrents. These are being integrated into the SCOOP as well.

This paper describes the design of SCOOP. It will also present performance data obtained during three prototype deployments in the Gulf of Mexico. Based on feedback from the prototype performance assessment some design changes may be considered. A total of twenty systems will then be built, tested and deployed during the spring of 2015.

NDBC requires a new, modern, modular meteorological and oceanographic observing system that can be constructed, assembled and installed on a variety of moored and fixed platforms, including a new smaller moored buoy that can be deployed and serviced by a less costly vessel. SCOOP will provide the National Weather Service this future capability.