Buoys and floats with the ability to collect data are scattered through out the world’s oceans in order to gain a better understanding of how the oceans work and how they are changing. The data is being used for monitoring chemical levels in the oceans, garnering accurate ocean temperatures and change in temperature, and many other endless uses. Each dot on this visualization represents a buoy or float, and each color indicates the use of the instrument. The buoy network is still expanding past what can be seen on this visualization.
The green colored dots are floats in the Argo network. By the end of 2006, 3000 Argo floats are scheduled to be located worldwide. These are deep-water floats that record continuous data from over 6500ft below sea level up to the surface. The yellow and blue dots are maintained by NOAA. These include both traditional buoys, but also C-MAN (Coastal-Marine Automated Network) stations. Most of the buoys are located off of the shores of the United States and provide data for the NOAA Marine Environmental Buoy Database. The C-MAN stations are located on piers, offshore towers, lighthouses, and beaches. These buoys and stations record parameters such as wind speed and direction, wave height, pressure, air temperature, and sea surface temperature. The red dots are buoys in the Deep Ocean Assessment and Reporting of Tsunamis (DART) Project, which is an ongoing effort to maintain and improve the capability for the early detection and real-time reporting of tsunamis in the open ocean. Finally, the purple dots are buoys used in the Tropical Atmosphere Ocean, TAO/TRITON, project. This project is dedicated to El Nino and La Nina. Notice that the buoys are arranged in parallel lines in the ocean where this phenomenon tends to occur.