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New Approaches for Coastal Observatories

U.S. Geological Survey Information Sheet

By Bradford Butman and Dan Frye

2000

Since the 1960's, long-term observations of ocean properties (currents and temperature for example) have been obtained by mooring instruments in the ocean that record data internally. Although now relatively reliable, data from these instruments are not available until the instrument is retrieved (typically 1-6 months), and damage to an instrument or electronic failure is not known until the instrument is recovered. Limited data is being sent from ocean observing systems to shore via satellite and recently, ocean observatories (such as LEO15 offshore of New Jersey), linked to shore via subsea cable, have been established to provide real-time high-resolution observations at a fixed location.

New technologies are now available that have the potential to inexpensively communicate field measurements from many sensors to a user in a few minutes. This technology can fill a niche between internally recording instruments and fixed location, relatively expensive, high data rate observatories. Development of low cost systems has the potential to provide observations from distributed arrays with multiple sensors on a wide variety of spatial scales.

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