Drifting buoys - DBCP


Brief history:

Drifting buoys are part of the Data Buoy Cooperation Panel (DBCP) international program, and it represents an array of 1,500 instruments measuring the atmosphere and ocean surface conditions for an average of 18 months.

The DBCP program coordinates the use of autonomous data buoys (including drifting buoys) to observe atmospheric and oceanographic conditions over ocean areas where few other measurements are taken.



Drifting buoys are floating ocean buoys equipped with meteorological and/or oceanographic sensors and a floating anchor - called drogue - which provides water resistance, slowing them down and allowing them to drift in the water. The drogue is connected to the buoy with a long line, and trails behind it.

Drifting buoys are equipped with satellite communications equipment to transmit information on their position as well as atmospheric and ocean data, which are transmitted to scientists in real-time.


Deployment location:

Drifting buoys are deployed in high seas.


Main data collected:
  • Air temperature
  • Near-surface wind
  • Sea surface temperature
  • Sea surface salinity
  • Surface air pressure
  • Humidity


Societal applications:
  • Global to regional weather forecasts (predict hurricane, storm, tempest, etc.) 
  • Monitoring ocean circulation (currents, tides, waves, etc.)
  • Ocean modelling
  • Follow migrating marine species
  • Quantify marine transport (identify where debris such as plastic piles up, predict the path of ocean pollutants such as oil spills and plastics)


If you want to learn more about this program, visit the website: https://www.ocean-ops.org/DBCP/