Ocean Observing Systems (OOS)

New to ocean observing systems? Check out the Bridge OOS primer!

(Many of these sites contain lesson plans/activities, or they are in the works; but all contain data that lend themselves well to creating your own activities.)
Bridge Data Analysis Teaching Activities (DATAs) that use ocean observing data:

Sea State - Being able to accurately forecast the conditions at sea, or sea state, has been the goal of explorers, sailors, and fishermen for thousands of years. Now, through the use of ocean observing systems, we can not only predict, but pinpoint, exactly what the sea state will be like before leaving the dock.

Conductivity - Water, regardless of whether it is fresh or saline, serves as one of the best electrical conductors on the planet. Learn about conductivity and its relation to salinity, and use real-time ocean observing system (OOS) data to investigate what factors affect conductivity.

Wave Energy as an Alternative Energy Source - Our lives have become so dependant on non-renewable energy sources that it is hard to imagine life without them. But what about renewable or sustainable energy sources? Explore the possibility of waves as an alternative energy source and use data from US ocean observing system (OOS) buoys to determine the feasibility.

Hot One Day, Cold Another - Ever wondered why water temperatures at the beach can be so different from day to day? Learn how upwelling influences beach water temperatures in this Data Tip, a collaboration with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Field Research Facility.

Coral Bleaching - Some of the planet's most diverse ecosystems are at risk. With temperatures on the rise, coral reefs are at greater risk for bleaching. Examine NOAA water temperature data to find out how reefs have been affected and predict what's on the horizon.

Data Activity Survey
The Bridge recently surveyed educators who accessed one of the above activities to find out more about how data are being used in the classroom.
Summary of the survey results


National Data Buoy Center (NDBC) - Obtain real-time and archived data from data buoys, weather stations, and oil rigs all over the globe. This is an excellent resource for students, teachers, scientists, and the general public. The data are easy to access and manipulate for hundreds of stations world-wide. The Science Education page features frequently asked questions answered with graphs, maps, and real data. The site also provides background information on ocean observing systems including buoys, satellites, floats, and more.


Gulf of Maine Ocean Observing System (GoMOOS) - Links to real-time and historical oceanographic and weather data collected throughout the Gulf of Maine. Data includes: surface current speed and direction; wave direction height and period; ocean temperature; chlorophyll levels; winds; contaminants monitoring; and more. On-line teaching unit applies data to predict a phytoplankton bloom. Data presented using creative graphics and tables, background information about the data is provided.


The Cool Room - Here, scientists from Rutgers University pull together data from satellites, coastal radars and underwater weather stations, process it, and post it on the Cool Room for you to use to make the most of NJ's coastal resources. Site gives oceanographic data for use by fishermen, boaters, swimmers, surfers, and divers, and includes activities for kids. The Cool Room classroom allows teachers to seamlessly integrate the Cool Room into their lessons.

COSEE MA Coastal Observing Systems Center - The information collected from sensors, buoys, satellites, autonomous ocean-going vehicles, gliders, and land-based instruments is sent via telemetry to a data manager that relays it out over the Internet where scientists, resource managers, educators, students and the public can view and use it. This site describes the major components of ocean observing systems and provides additional observing resources, including international and Mid-Atlantic-specific observatories.

Maryland Department of Natural Resources' Eyes on the Bay - This easy to use, comprehensive website includes a wealth of real-time and archived data, as well as several lesson plans. Using the highly-interactive map, you can access stations that measure parameters including air and water temperature, salinity, dissolved oxygen, pH, and water clarity in the Maryland portion of Chesapeake Bay. The lesson plans cover salinity, dissolved oxygen, and harmful algal blooms, and are aligned to the Maryland Voluntary Curriculum.

VIMS Real-Time Data Buoy - The VIMS data buoy provides real-time data including air and water temperature, water salinity, chlorophyll, dissolved oxygen, turbidity, and water current and wave information for the York River at Gloucester Point, Virginia. The buoy is one piece of a long-term project to provide real-time data for accurate predictions of ecosystem processes in Lower Chesapeake Bay.


Coastal Ocean Monitoring and Predicting System (COMPS) - COMPS consists of an array of instrumentation both offshore and along Florida's west coast, combined with numerical circulation models, and builds upon existing in-situ measurements and modeling programs. In addition, COMPS links to the USF Remote Sensing Laboratory, which collects real-time satellite imagery. Data and model products are disseminated here in real-time. Site also includes links to other ocean observing resources and some educational resources.

SouthEast U.S. Atlantic Coastal Ocean Observing System (SEACOOS) - SEACOOS is a collaborative university partnership that collects, manages, and disseminates integrated regional ocean observations and information products for the coasts of North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida. The site offers a multitude of classroom activities, including Seamaven, an interactive introduction to ocean observing systems, and COOS 101, an ocean observing system primer. SEACOOS offers classroom resources, such as posters and brochures. The data is easily accessible and completely understandable.

Coastal Ocean Research and Monitoring Program (CORMP) - CORMP's goal is to provide an interdisciplinary science-based framework that supports sound public policy leading to wise coastal use, sustainable fisheries and improved coastal ocean ecosystem health. This site features an easy to use interactive map with real time and archived buoy and weather station data for southern North Carolina and South Carolina. The site also includes teacher resources including workshop information, presentations and reports, and links to additional systems and educational resources, and information on CORMP research initiatives.


San Diego Coastal Ocean Observing System (SDCOOS) - SDCOOS provides a gateway for up-to-date oceanographic, weather, and water quality data for the San Diego coastal region from Oceanside to the International Border. The SDCOOS site features webcams, an interactive satellite picture and maps of the local coast, easy to access archived data, and complete meteorological and oceanographic data from Imperial Beach. Also available are bathymetry and satellite maps for the area, as well as wind and wave forecasts.

Southern California Coastal Ocean Observing System (SCCOOS) - SCCOOS brings together coastal observations along the Southern California Bight to provide information necessary to address issues in coastal water quality, marine life resources, and coastal hazards. Data is available by region and by technology from Morro Bay south to the San Diego-Mexico border. Data products include meteorological, wind, and wave observations, bathymetry measurements, water quality data including Fecal Coliforms and Enterococci, surface currents, and satellite imagery. Classroom materials are available.


More Technical
(Most of these sites contain data; however, they do not have lesson plans and may require more technical interpretation for application in the classroom.)

National & International

Global Ocean Observation System (GOOS) - GOOS is a permanent global system for observations, modeling and analysis of marine and ocean variables to support operational ocean services worldwide. The GOOS site is strictly an informational page concerning GOOS, its goals, the progress it has made so far, the groups involved, and its potential impacts. Links are available to pilot projects and affiliated programs that are already underway, as well as documents presented at various organizational meetings and workshops.

National Office for Integrated and Sustained Ocean Observations (IOOS) - Ocean.US was created by the National Oceanographic Partnership Program (NOPP) to coordinate the development of an operational and integrated and sustained ocean observing system (IOOS). The IOOS site includes detailed information on the formation and organization of the group, as well as a calendar of workshops and events, development information, a newsletter, and all the latest news. The site also links to similar programs and industry representatives.

The Laboratory for Ocean Color Users (LOCUS) - LOCUS is a collaborative site featuring the use of Giovanni, a Web-based data exploration and analysis tool. LOCUS is intended to support the research use of Ocean Color Giovanni, which has data from SeaWiFS and MODIS-Aqua. The site includes several educational modules covering ocean color and sea surface temperature, boundary currents, upwelling and primary productivity, interannual and seasonal variability, and the Southern Ocean.


Carolinas Coastal Ocean Observing and Predicting System (Cara-COOPS) - Caro-COOPS is based upon an array of coastal and offshore moorings deployed off of the coast of the Carolinas. Mousing over a buoy on the map displays measurements including: latitude and longitude, air and water temperature, wind conditions, solar radiation, and for most, salinity, chlorophyll, surface current information, and more. Clicking on the buoy opens a new window that displays the measurements as analog gauges. Time series plots are also available.

South Atlantic Bight Synoptic Offshore Observational Network (SABSOON) - An excellent source of real-time data for the South Atlantic Bight. The data include: wind, meteorological, and oceanographic data, wave and tide data, irradiance and backscatter data, and current data. For most measures, data are available for both the surface and bottom. The site also features archived web cam videos and a highlight reel. Also available are detailed figures that diagram the SABSOON station equipment.

Gulf of Mexico

Central Gulf Ocean Observing System (CenGOOS) - CenGOOS operates a clearinghouse of buoys in the central Gulf of Mexico. Mousing over the buoys on the map reveals ownership and location information. Clicking on the buoy opens a new window complete with data profile. CenGOOS operates one buoy in the Gulf. Measured parameters of the CenGOOS buoy include air and water temperature, wind speed and direction, humidity, barometric pressure, salinity, and nitrate concentration. Archived data is also available.


Columbia River Environment (CORIE) - CORIE is a pilot environmental observation and forecasting system for the Columbia River. Within the Observation Network link, shipboard and buoy data are accessible. Buoy station data include real time water temperature, salinity, and conductivity. Archived buoy data from up to 15 days prior is available. Shipboard data includes real time, when vessel is active, and archived salinity and temperature measurements from CORIE's fleet.

Great Lakes

Great Lakes Observing System (GLOS) - This observing system provides real-time data, graphs, web cams, and more throughout the Great Lakes and connecting waterways, including the St. Lawrence River, Niagara River, and the St. Clair system. The data are easily accessible using the highly interactive menus. GLOS data includes lake conditions, water levels, surface temperatures, meteorological data, and weekly forecasts. The site also provides the history of the project, the partners involved, and a listserv.
 Tips & Tools
Other Bridge pages with related information:
Data Tip Archives
Climate & Atmosphere
Bridge Home Port
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