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TAO/Triton Sea Surface Temperature and Winds

The colors on these maps relate to sea surface temperature. The top map shows average temperatures over the past five days; colors correspond to temperatures in degrees Celsius. The bottom map shows how five-day average temperatures differ from expected averages; colors correspond to differences in temperature.

Arrows on the maps indicate wind direction; the length of each arrow corresponds to wind speed. The arrow beneath the top map shows a scale for wind speed of 10 meters/second, approximately equal to 20 knots.

Observing and monitoring existing conditions is essential to understanding and, ultimately, predicting the earth’s climate. The TAO/TRITON array, a set of 70 moored buoys in the tropical Pacific Ocean, gathers oceanographic and meteorological data and transmits it to shore in real time, via satellite. Data from this array are particularly important to understanding and predicting El Niño events, where unusually warm waters in the tropical Pacific result in unusual weather patterns around the world. Using data from the TAO/TRITON array in conjunction with satellite data, NOAA's Climate Prediction Center forecast the 1997-1998 El Niño six months in advance.

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TAO/Triton Sea Surface Temperature and Winds

The map above indicates the area covered by the TAO/TRITON array.

TAO/Triton Sea Surface Temperature and Winds - The maps on the left show temperature and wind speed and direction in the Tropical Pacific Ocean, as measured by moored buoys of the TAO/TRITON array. The map shows measurements averaged over the past five days. The bottom map shows how this average deviates from normal. The map on the right indicates the area covered by the TAO/TRITON array. Source: Tropical Atmosphere Ocean (TAO) Project

 questions about the data  

question Why does monitoring ocean temperature matter when what we want to know about is climate change and air temperature?

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 research connection  

The TAO/TRITON array provides in-situ measurements—that is, measurements taken in the ocean. Satellites provide remote sensing; they gather information from space. These two methods of gathering data work together to provide a global picture. Data gathered by the TAO/TRITON array and other in-situ observing systems are used to validate observations made by satellites and to observe beneath the surface of the ocean, which cannot be done by satellites.

 related sites  

The Contribution of NOAA Buoys to a Global Ocean Observing System - This article discusses the role of ocean-based observation in climate prediction and research.

Climate Observation Ocean Networks - NOAA provides links to a variety of ocean-based systems for gathering climate data.

NOAA’s Climate Observation Program/Teacher at Sea - An elementary school teacher assists with maintenance of the TAO/TRITON array on NOAA Ship Ka'imimoana.

PIRATA - Information on PIRATA (Pilot Research Moored Array in the Tropical Atlantic), a moored buoy system similar to the TAO/TRITON array.

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