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Marine Buoy Observations

In this section, learn how to better understand and use Environment Canada’s buoy observation data, which is collected from our extensive network of marine buoys. Also in this section is an overview of some of the different types of buoys that Environment Canada has in service.

Acronyms

  • ODAS: Ocean Data Acquisition System
  • NOMAD: Navy Oceanographic Meteorological Automatic Device
  • GOES: Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite

Sample: Current conditions page for a marine buoy location:

Nickerson Bank - 44251
04:00 PM AST 9 March 2010
Buoy position: 46.45N 53.38W

Table 1. Sample Current conditions page for marine buoy location
Wind (knots)SW 9 gust 11Pressure and tendency (kPa)100.0  --
Wave height (m)2.0Air temperature (°C)N/A*
Wave period (s)14Water temperature (°C)0

* In the event a sensor is malfunctioning or out of service for maintenance, or the parameter is not measured, the field would be displayed as not available (N/A)

Observation Location (displayed in the mock up as Nickerson Bank - 44251): Identified with name of the buoy and its World Meteorological Organization (WMO) identification number.

Time: The time of the observation is displayed in local time (Daylight Savings Time or Standard Time – as required), hh:mm ddmmyyy, and typically updated shortly past the hour for hourly observations. In the event a special or non-routine observation is available, this will be posted with an updated time.

Buoy position: The buoy position is identified in Lat/Long.

Wind – Speed in Knots: The direction from which the wind is blowing from, using geographiccardinal or intercardinal points. A north wind is therefore a wind blowing from the geographic north. The speed is derived from a 2-minute mean or average prior to the time of the observation. In the event a gust is recorded, this is the maximum observed in a 10-minute period prior to the time of the observation.  

Wave height: Data is collected over a 30 to 35 minute period each hour and averaged. Provided in increments of 0.5 Meters.

Wave period: Data is collected over a 30 to 35 minute period each hour and averaged.

Pressure and tendency: The latest air pressure observed on the hour of the observation, in Kilopascals (kPa) with the trend of either rising or falling from the previous hour’s reading.

Air Temperature: Latest air temperature observed on the hour of the observation, in degrees Celsius to the nearest whole degree.

Water Temperature: Latest water temperature observed on the hour of the observation, in degrees Celsius to the nearest whole degree. 

Marine Observation Details

These reports are obtained from a network of floating buoys and coastal weather stations. To access the network via clickable maps or lists (available in text mode) representing various Marine areas across Canada, visit our National Marine site.

From the National Marine site, click on any one of the 15 marine regions that you would like to see an observation report from, and then click on any one of the marine forecast areas associated with that marine region. Select the “Weather Conditions” tab and a map or list will be provided that outlines all of the buoys and coastal weather stations relevant to that marine region.

Selecting a station will display the latest hourly weather conditions. In addition, the 24 hour history for a station and a regional summary of weather stations and/or buoys can be selected.

Keep in mind:

  • Metric units are used for all reported weather elements except for wind speeds, which are expressed in knots only - the same unit used in the marine forecasts.
  • These weather condition maps are designed for the selection of stations and/or buoys. The marine forecast areas can not be selected and are outlined for reference purposes only.
  • A full glossary is available to assist in some of the terms or terminology used in the reports. 
  • Marine observing platforms – ODAS Buoys What they look like and specifications.

3 Metre Discus ODAS Buoy

Two buoy technicians are seen performing maintenance on a 3 metre discus ODAS buoy at sea.
Image 1. Two buoy technicians are seen performing maintenance on a 3 metre discus ODAS buoy at sea.
Nominal Anemometer Height:
5 metres
Overall Diameter:
3 metres
Deployment Weight:
1540 kgs
Location:
Coastal up to 60 NM offshore
Mooring Type:
All-Chain up to 70 metres
Inverse Catenary:
Greater than 70 metres
Mooring Depth Range:
14 to 2950 metres
Measured Parameters:
  • Wind Speed, Gust & Direction
  • Atmospheric Pressure
  • Air & Sea Surface Temperature
  • Significant wave height, wave maximum and wave period
  • Non-Directional Wave Spectra
Reporting frequency:
Hourly via GOES Satellite

1.7 Metre ODAS Buoy

A Canadian Coast Guard vessel anchored beside a 1.7 metre ODAS buoy to allow technicians to inspection the buoy.
Image 2. A Canadian Coast Guard vessel anchored beside a 1.7 metre ODAS buoy to allow technicians to inspection the buoy.
Nominal Anemometer Height:
3.3 metres
Overall Diameter:
1.7 metres
Deployment Weight:
540 kgs
Location:
Lakes
Mooring Type:
All-Chain or Inverse Catenary
Mooring Depth Range:
5 to 120 metres
Measured Parameters:
  • Wind Speed, Gust & Direction
  • Atmospheric Pressure
  • Air & Sea Surface Temperature
  • Significant wave height, wave maximum and wave period
  • Non-Directional Wave Spectra
Reporting frequency:
Hourly via GOES Satellite

6 Metre NOMAD ODAS Buoy

A 6 metre NOMAD ODAS buoy is being serviced by two technicians at sea.
Image 3. A 6 metre NOMAD ODAS buoy is being serviced by two technicians at sea.
Nominal Anemometer Height:
5 metres
Overall Length:
6 metres
Deployment Weight:
8000 kgs
Location:
Up to 400 Nautical miles offshore
Mooring Type:
Inverse Catenary
Mooring Depth Range:
3200 to 4000 metres
Measured Parameters:
  • Wind Speed, Gust & Direction
  • Atmospheric Pressure
  • Air & Sea Surface Temperature
  • Significant wave height, wave maximum and wave period
  • Non-Directional Wave Spectra
Reporting frequency:
Hourly via GOES Satellite