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Handbook No. 1
Virtual Tour - Data Flow and Use
NDBC Data Flow
The observations from moored buoys and C-MAN stations are transmitted hourly through NOAA Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellites (GOES) to a ground receiving facility at Wallops Island, VA, operated by the NOAA National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service (NESDIS). Some stations report via commercial low earth orbiting satellites. The satellite reports are immediately relayed to the NWS Telecommunications Gateway (NWSTG) in Silver Spring, MD.
NDBC also serves as a data assembly center for receiving, quality controlling, and disseminating measurement data from other stations owned and maintained by non-federal regional ocean observing systems, members of the U.S. Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS). Most of the IOOS partners send their reports over the Internet to NDBC systems at the NWSTG.
At the NWSTG, NDBC systems perform automated quality control on the reports. Data analysts at NDBC monitor the data and adjust the controls to release only good quality data. From the NWSTG, the data are transmitted via various communications networks to NDBC and NWS offices. Private meteorologists receive the reports via the NWS Family of Services. The general public receives them via the Internet, via Dial-A-Buoy, and via NOAA Weather Radio.
NDBC Data Uses
Surveys of meteorologists have shown about 40 percent of NWS marine warnings and advisories are based, at least in part, on NDBC's meteorological data. In addition to this critical purpose, the observations are used by meteorologists who need to adjust flight level wind speeds reported by hurricane reconnaissance aircraft to surface winds; by geophysicists who use our sea surface temperature, wind, and wave reports to help calibrate remotely sensed measurements from spacecraft; and by engineers who obtain directional wave measurements to study beach erosion and shore protection.
Surfers, fishermen, and boaters acquire the reports via the Internet to help them determine if they want to venture offshore.
NDBC data analysts look at time-series plots like this to monitor the reports. In this graphic, pressure reports from two nearby stations off the Texas coast show a persistent bias. When compared to land stations and pressure contours on automated weather maps, the pressure reported by 42043 was judged to be in error.