Part 2—Explore GoMOOS

Step 1 –
Consider the Question: Why Observe the Ocean?

Gulf of Maine Ocean Observing Buoys. Source: GoMOOS.
Oceans cover over 70% of Earth's surface and contain 97% of Earth's water. The oceans regulate global carbon dioxide (CO2) levels by absorbing roughly half of Earth's atmospheric carbon dioxide. They are also responsible for producing more than half of Earth's oxygen supply because they support photosynthesizing plants. Our oceans are home to hundreds of thousands of plant and animal species plus thousands or even millions of other species that have not yet been identified. Additionally, ocean commerce is a multi-billion dollar industry; fishing, international trade, communications, recreation, and tourism all depend, at least in part, on our oceans.

Given the ecological and economic importance of Earth's oceans, it's vital that we collect and maintain information about them to monitor their health and to identify potential threats. Data on such variables as wind direction, wave height, air temperature, water temperature, salinity, and current speed and direction are now routinely collected by moored (anchored) buoys equipped with sensors at various depths along their tethers. These buoys transmit the data to shore in "real-time" as it is collected and it becomes available instantly via the Internet or phone. The ability to access "real-time" data on oceanographic conditions is beneficial to commercial fishermen, sailors, scientists, meteorologists, search and rescue personnel, and public health officials.

Step 2 –
Explore the NERACOOS Buoys

The Northeastern Regional Association of Coastal and Ocean Observing Systems (NERACOOS) is recognized as a leader in coastal ocean observing technology. NERACOOS deployed and maintains 10 buoys in the Gulf of Maine and provides access to real-time data from this collection. Additionally, NERACOOS also provides access to data from 11 other buoys in the area that are maintained by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

The buoy pictured on this page is buoy "N", located in the Northeast channel. This buoy's location and role is important to monitoring water moving between the Gulf of Maine and the Atlantic Ocean. Learn more about buoy N's role in helping Right whales at Environmental Prediction in the Gulf of Maine

  1. Click the NERACOOS Real-time Data Portal link to access an interactive map of the buoy locations in a new window.


  2. Use the pull down menu to zoom to the Gulf of Maine region.
  3. In the legend box, below the map, turn off (deselect all) of the buoys except the Gulf of Maine Buoys.
  4. On the map, hover your cursor over the buoy icons to learn their names. Click the icon corresponding to an individual buoy to obtain the most recent data for that buoy. Once you have selected a buoy you can learn more about the buoy by clicking the links to the right of the map. Buoy F01 has been selected in the image below.


  5. Take a quick look at the map on this page to familiarize yourself with the locations of Gulf of Maine buoys A01, B01, D02, E01, I01, and M01. These are the buoys from which you will request and analyze data to predict when the spring phytoplankton bloom will occur.

Step 3 –
Compare Data from NERACOOS Buoys

  1. Compare data from one buoy to another. Once you have chosen a station, click the Compare Stations link to the right of the buoy map and legend.
  2. Keep the first buoy you chose or select a new one from the pull-down menu. Then, select a second and/or third buoy from their respective pull-down menus. The data will automatically update in the table below the pull-down menus.
    1. Click the Compare Stations link immediately to the right of the map legend to learn more about buoy location.


    2. Keep the first buoy you chose or select a new one from the pull-down menu. Then, select a second and/or third buoy from their respective pull-down menus. The data will automatically update in the table below the pull-down menus.


    3. Three stations have been selected.


    • What can you tell about each location from the data?
      In the example shown above, the buoys are experiencing similar conditions.

« Previous Page      Next Page »