NOAA 2002-R213
Contact: John Leslie
NOAA News Releases 2002
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A new data buoy, launched this week off Florida's east coast, will give NOAA's National Weather Service meteorologists in Jacksonville more information to develop better marine weather forecasts, as well as giving oceanographers and biologists improved data on water movements below the surface, agency officials said today.

The new weather buoy, funded through NOAA's Coastal Storms Initiative, was deployed by National Data Buoy Center, an agency of the Commerce Department's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the U.S. Coast Guard near the edge of the Gulf Stream 42 miles east of St. Augustine. The buoy, identified as 41012, joins two similar models off Florida's Atlantic Coast.

"This buoy fills a data gap in marine observations, which help meteorologists understand current conditions over the water and issue more detailed forecasts," said Dr. Paul Moersdorf, director of the NDBC, located at Stennis Space Center, Mississippi. "The new buoy is also what the marine community needs to ensure they have the latest observations to make safe decisions in the water."

Data buoys collect real-time observations of wind speed, wave heights, and air-and sea-surface temperatures. The recently placed Buoy 41012, however, also reports the water's salt content, a first for NDBC buoys. Long-term salinity measurements help scientists monitor changes in the underwater ecosystem, including fish and plant life.

Additionally, the buoy will give a vertical profile of ocean current measurements using an Acoustic Doppler Current Profiler, which operates much like a Doppler weather radar. The profiler sends sound waves in different directions toward the ocean floor, and helps detect shifts in ocean currents.

"Resource managers and local officials in the St. John's watershed will benefit from the data the sensors provide," said Jamison Hawkins, deputy director of NOAA's National Ocean Service. It gives them the best information available to make critical decisions about land and natural resource use in the coastal zone."

Pat Welsh, a meteorologist at the Jacksonville forecast office, said the new buoy will be valuable for issuing better marine forecasts, including predictions for thunderstorms that develop in coastal waters. It will even enhance the performance of local computer weather models and even improve the ability to forecast winter storms.

"Knowing the sea-surface temperatures and the wind structure are critical when forecasting coastal thunderstorms, which impact the safety of the marine community. Now, thanks to this new buoy, we have more information to improve our forecasts."

The Coastal Storms Initiative, administered by NOAA's National Ocean Service, is responsible for a wide range of activities in the Jacksonville area, including improved measurements of the depths and currents of the St. John's River.

The new buoy's real-time weather observations will be posted under the "Recent Data" section of the NDBC's web site, The latest observations also are available through the Dial-a-Buoy system, (228) 688-1948.

NOAA's National Weather Service is the primary source of weather data, forecasts and warnings for the United States and its territories. NOAA Weather Service operates the most advanced weather and flood warning and forecast system in the world, helping to protect lives and property and enhance the national economy.

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