Moored buoys - DBCP

Brief history:

Moored buoys – including coastal, national moored buoys and tropical moored buoys - are part of the international Data Buoy Cooperation Panel (DBCP) program counting a network of approximately 400 moored buoys at sea.

Some of the coastal and national moored buoys have been in place for at least a couple of decades, some for as long as 40 years, and so provide valuable time-series for marine climate studies, in particular for wave climate. Coastal and national moored buoys are operated by a wide variety of organisations such as National Meteorological and Hydrological Services, marine and oceanographic institutes, etc.

The tropical moored buoys array provides data in real-time for climate research and forecasting. Major components include the TAO/TRITON array in the Pacific, PIRATA in the Atlantic, and RAMA in the Indian Ocean.



A moored buoy is an oceanographic instrument designed to stay in one place (anchored to seabed by using recycled train wheels) and have to be replaced or maintained every year. Many different models of buoys exist, with different sizes (2m to 12m) and shapes, depending on the expected sea state conditions, on the water depth and the type of measurements required.  

Scientific instruments can be attached to the mooring line, mounted on a surface buoy, or made to climb up and down the underwater line. Above the water, moored buoys may be mounted with meteorological sensors, communications systems (such as satellite or radio transmitters and receivers), and solar panels. Below the water line, buoys hold various instruments, including: currentmeters, temperature and pressure sensors, sediment traps, chemical sensors, power supplies, data recorders, acoustic modems, etc.

Deployment location:

Moored buoys are deployed both in coastal areas and high seas.

Main data collected:

Moored buoys provide meteorological and oceanographic data. They can measure:

  • Wind
  • Atmospheric pressure
  • Wave height
  • Ocean temperature
  • Salinity
  • Sediments
  • Etc.
Societal applications:

Moored buoy data, in addition to their use in operational forecasting, warnings, and atmospheric models, are also used for scientific and research programs, and to monitor ocean and ecosystems health (this is the case for tropical moored buoys). Some of the moored buoys data applications are:

  • Weather and wave forecasting
  • Climate monitoring
  • Emergency response to chemical spills
  • Coastal inundation
  • Provision of maritime safety information to end users
  • Climate and ocean science
  • Etc.


If you want to learn more about this program, visit the website: