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

October 12, 2023

NHCI Deploys Buoys to Observe Coastal Impacts from Hurricane Lee in Partnership with Research Squadron VXS-1

On Thursday September 14th, the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory Scientific Development Squadron (VXS-1) airdropped several buoys to observe coastal impacts from Hurricane Lee, which remained offshore.

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October 12, 2023

Reflecting on the Importance of Cross-Sector Partnerships at OCEANS 2023 Gulf Coast

The National Oceanographic Partnership Program (NOPP) highlights the importance of public-private partnerships at OCEANS Conference 2023

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September 19, 2023

Research Squadron VXS-1 Mobilizes Quickly to Track Hurricane Idalia

U.S. Naval Research Laboratory’s Scientific Development Squadron (VXS) 1 mobilized a crew for a NP-3C Orion operation with less than 24 hours’ notice to airdrop 10 Sofar Spotter buoys in the Gulf of Mexico ahead of Hurricane Idalia on Monday, August 28.

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