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Contact: John Leslie
News Releases 2003
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The NOAA National Data Buoy Center (NDBC) of the Commerce Department’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has developed a new data buoy that is designed to give the agency faster response to service outages in its sprawling network of 70 data buoys located along the coasts of the continental United States, Hawaii, Alaska and the Great Lakes. The buoys supply important information that is used in potentially life-saving marine forecasts and warnings. Tests of the new equipment and procedures are now underway in the Gulf of Mexico.
The NOAA National Data Buoy Center and the U.S. Coast Guard released a prototype last week of the new Air-Deployed, Self-Moored, Expendable (ADSMEX) buoy 60 miles south of Mobile, Ala. Later this month, an ADSMEX buoy will be deployed for testing in the Gulf of Alaska about 75 miles east of Fairweather Ground.
Approximately two weeks after each placement the Coast Guard will bring the test buoys back to the NDBC, where technicians will compare data gathered by the ADSMEX buoys against the existing conventional models.
NDBC officials are hopeful the tests will prove the ADSMEX buoys can restore marine data quickly and at a lower cost. Instead of using conventional buoys that must be transported by ship, tests will determine whether a smaller version can be deployed by an airplane, providing a quicker, less expensive alternative. The NDBC created the prototype ADSMEX buoy from modifications to existing buoy hardware in its inventory.
The network of data buoys supports many NOAA programs and provides data vital to NOAA National Weather Service (NOAA Weather Service) marine forecasts and warnings. “If a NOAA buoy suffers an outage, we need to get a replacement there quickly, and not lose any important data that is critical to marine safety,” said Dr. Paul Moersdorf, director of the NBDC, located at Stennis Space Center, Miss. Moersdorf added that using a ship to redeploy a buoy can take up to several weeks.
Data buoys collect real-time weather observations – from wind speed, wind direction and wave heights, to air and sea-surface temperatures. Those measurements are crucial to forecasting coastal storms.
The ADSMEX buoy, designed to last up to six months, is equipped with a Geostationary Positioning System (GPS) feature for tracking and can deploy a synthetic line strong enough to keep it anchored in the ocean floor in water as deep as 12,000 feet. The NDBC hopes this feature will help it withstand the roughest weather conditions.
“In Alaska, where the weather can be brutally harsh, or along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts, when a tropical storm is approaching, replacing a downed buoy is tricky,” Moersdorf said. “An ADSMEX substitute would be a `gap-filler’ until the permanent buoy is repaired.”
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