Task 3A - P.I. Thomson

Air-deployed wave buoys for hurricane forecast improvements

Team Members


  • Jim Thomson
  • Jacob Davis

Sofar Ocean

  • Pieter Smit
  • Isabel Houghton
  • Tim Janssen


  • Elizabeth Thompson
  • Chris Fairall

U. Colorado / NOAA PSL

  • Gijs de Boer

Team Objectives

Provide real-time observations of hurricane waves and wave forcing that can be ingested by modeling groups through an API to improve forecasts and validate hindcasts. Specifically:

Deploy arrays of Spotter wave buoys from C-130 aircraft 12-48 hours ahead of hurricanes.

Deploy arrays of Air-Deployable Micro Buoys (ADMB) and micro-SWIFT buoys from aircraft during hurricanes, as part of existing operations.

Use Sofar’s API to immediately deliver wave buoy data to operational centers

Describe the wave field surrounding hurricanes.

Compare buoy observations to NOAA WP3D aircraft estimates (WSRA, SFMR)

Optimize buoy array design for assimilation.

Meet Other Teams

Newest Updates

September 30, 2022

Successful air deployment of buoys with NRL partnership ahead of Hurricane Ian

On Monday, September 26th, 2022, 20 buoys were successfully deployed in the Gulf of Mexico ahead of Hurricane Ian as part of the NOPP Hurricane Coastal Impacts project. The deployment, which was facilitated by the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory, created a real-time sensor network to monitor Ian’s location and intensity as it advanced towards Florida’s Gulf Coast.

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January 5, 2022

Task 3A – Thomson

UW APL has been testing microSWIFT buoy deployments from NOAA aircraft.

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