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TAO Performance Continues to Improve

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) successfully completed the third of six cruises scheduled for this calendar year to service the Tropical Atmosphere Ocean (TAO) array in the equatorial Pacific Ocean. The National Data Buoy Center (NDBC) field service team aboard M/V Bluefin, which is under contract with NOAA, replaced seven TAO buoys along the 180 longitude from latitude 8N to 8S. The first and second cruises that NDBC conducted were in April on NOAA research vessel Ron Brown and June on M/V Bluefin that restored thirteen TAO buoys on the 95W and 110W longitude lines.

Availability of the TAO array has suffered since 2012 after NOAA was forced due to funding challenges to lay up its research vessel Ka'imimoana, which had been dedicated for servicing TAO.

Performance of the TAO array has improved dramatically from the 28% low in March to about 50% at the end of July.

NOAA has three more TAO service cruises planned through December 2014, with the NDBC field service team on NOAA research vessel Ron Brown in September, October and November. NOAA expects the data availability of the TAO array to be at the target 80% after the final cruise is complete.

Photo of TAO buoy beign retrieved to ship