669 Evolution of the TAO Data Analyst

Wednesday, 13 January 2016
Hall D/E ( New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center)
Daniel Pounder, Pacific Architects and Engineers/National Data Buoy Center, Stennis Space Center, MS; and M. G. Winterkorn and D. C. Petraitis

Handout (1.2 MB)

As the Tropical Atmosphere-Ocean (TAO) program has evolved over the years, so have the TAO Data Analyst's duties. The major transition of note began with the exchange of the operational responsibility of the TAO program from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) Pacific Marine Environmental Lab (PMEL) to NOAA's National Data Buoy Center (NDBC) in 2006. Prior to the transition to NDBC, PMEL had designed, deployed and maintained the Autonomous Temperature Line Acquisition System (ATLAS) buoys for the TAO program. With the transfer of the program, came the next phase of the TAO transition at NDBC which was to refresh the technology. The TAO Refresh system uses commercial off-the-shelf components and has increased the frequency and volume of meteorological and oceanographic data available. The Legacy ATLAS buoy, transmitting data via Argos, typically reports less than 100 data points per buoy per day. Refresh buoys use the Iridium satellite constellation for transmission that allows for hourly receipt of high-resolution data with 10-minute averaging; the Refresh buoys report over 2,000 data points per buoy per day.

The TAO Data Analyst has evolved with increased data from Refresh buoys to manage and quality control (Real-Time and Post-Recovery), but also as liaison to other departments accounting for system metadata critical in the lifecycle maintenance of the 55 buoy network. One associated application of this has been tracking and responding to vandalism in the TAO array. In 2012, NDBC increased their efforts to combat vandalism by installing cameras on TAO buoys, known as BuoyCAMs. The BuoyCAMs require the analyst to track and analyze images received at NDBC for any signs of fishing activity. As a result of vandalism, data interference is a major concern of the TAO Data Analyst at NDBC. The BuoyCAMs have helped provide explanations for sensor and complete buoy failures as well as provide concrete evidence of vandalism and identification of vandals.

In summary, the TAO Data Analyst at NDBC has evolved to meet the growing and changing needs of the TAO buoy array in support of studying the El Niņo Southern Oscillation (ENSO), the Global Climate Observing System (GCOS) and the Global Ocean Observing System (GOOS). Increased data from TAO Refresh buoys have lead to more detailed data signatures for quality control, including diurnal effects and vandalism activity identification. The ability for the analyst to accurately and quickly identify equipment failures along with vandalism events has lead to improved analysis of the significantly increased data available from the TAO Refresh buoy system. These changes in our way of doing business have not only brought about an evolution in the responsibility of the data analyst, but also added a situational awareness of the entire TAO array.

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