Technology Projects > Ocean Observation Systems > Introduction


Under the Ocean Observation Network (OON) programme of ESSO MoES, the Ocean observation systems (OOS) group of NIOT is entrusted with undertaking the activities on moored buoy programme. The OOS group, erstwhile National Data Buoy Programme, was established in 1996, with the objective to operate, maintain and develop moored observational buoy networks and related telecommunication facilities in the Indian seas. Later, OOS has inherited lead responsibility for several important and well-established observational programmes in the northern Indian Ocean. Due to the remoteness of the vast open oceans, there has been a challenge to continuously observe the ocean, which was later harmonized by in-situ and satellite based observations.

Moored buoys have revolutionized the observing system capabilities and made a global system possible. Today, in-situ observations are significant as a complement to satellite-based observations. When assimilated into numerical models, in-situ observations calibrate the model and serve as a reference point. Presently, OOS has established sustained moored buoy network for oceanographic, marine meteorological and tsunami warning applications. Moored Data Buoys are offshore floating platforms, fitted with meteorological and oceanographic sensors, moored at specific locations to observe the in-situ met ocean data at regular intervals. The observed data are then transmitted through satellite and location reference, in synoptic hours, to the state-of-the-art shore station facility CORNEA - Centre for Ocean Realtime iNformation viEw and Archives at NIOT, Chennai. CORNEA complies with global tier III Data Centre standards and Integrated designs for scalability, safety, clean and a highly secured environment.

The next-generation buoy systems, OMNI (Ocean Moored buoys in the Northern Indian Ocean), are equipped with high-tech sensors to measure ocean currents, conductivity, temperature up to 500m depth, solar radiation, precipitation, and transmit data in real-time.

As challenges arise in the form of natural disasters, OOS is also entrusted with deploying buoys capable of reporting water levels for Tsunami Early Warning System. OOS team has developed, tested, and established Tsunami Buoy System and Bottom Pressure Recorders (BPRs) in the Indian Seas.

In addition, OOS has established and maintaining the CAL VAL buoy system for satellite data validation in collaboration with SAC ISRO. Coastal buoys are installed at three locations viz Port Blair, Agatti and Chennai and are working using INSAT and GRRS communication systems. Data sets are being analysed in-house.

Also OOS has joined NCPOR on the establishment of the Arctic mooring system since 2014. Efforts are continuing for the development of autonomous ocean observation tools such as Robo Coastal Observer, ROBOFISH, Submerged Tsunami Buoy system, Integrated Marine Surveillance System etc. Further indigenous developments are being undertaken, and many such units and sub-components developed are working successfully at Sea. Indian moored OMNI buoy system with sub-surface sensors is developed and is being tested at Sea. The most crucial aspect of OOS is the real-time dissemination of data, especially during extreme weather conditions. The shore station is manned 24 x 7 and acts as the nodal point for disseminating critical data like cyclones and Tsunami to INCOIS.

The long-term time series observation of met-ocean parameters from the moored buoy network is widely utilized to better understand the upper ocean dynamics and monsoon variability and better predict the weather and extreme events. The moored buoy observations brought out many new insights into the air-sea interaction, individual responses to cyclones, and teleconnections with remote oceanic basins published in peer-reviewed journals. The rapid mode data transmission implemented in moored data buoys enabled the high-frequency real-time data transmission during the cyclone passage and is well appreciated by the national and global community.

The sustained moored buoy network in Indian waters for more than two decades under challenging marine environment as well as in Arctic sea ice region along with the indigenisation of buoy technology have brought laurels and bestowed with many awards such as the National Geoscience Award in 2014, MTS Lockheed Martin Award in 2017, MoES National Award of Excellence in 2018, outstanding recognition by JCOMM signed by UNESCO, IOC and WMO in 2017. The moored buoy program continues the journey to serve the country by contributing to science & technology, emphasizing societal outreach and capacity building.

The OOS programme also contributes to the implementation of Research moored Array for African-Asian-Australian Monsoon Analysis and prediction (RAMA) buoys by NOAA in the Indian Ocean region. Data from this array helps to understand interactions between the ocean and atmosphere that affect monsoon genesis, Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD), and understanding the ocean's role in variability related to the Madden-Julian Oscillation (MJO), tropical cyclones, and other high-frequency weather phenomena in the region. It will also support developing operational climate forecast models, weather and climate prediction, ocean data assimilation methodologies, ocean-state estimation, reanalysis efforts and satellite validation.

During the June 2018 India-USA Colloquium for Earth Observations and Sciences for Society and Economy, the Secretary of India's Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES) announced a new open data policy for the Ocean Moored Buoy Network in the northern Indian ocean (OMNI) moored buoys in the international waters. A key foundation for the RAMA and OMNI partnership is a data policy predicated on the principle of free, open, timely and unrestricted access to all data and associated metadata from the moored buoys outside EEZ. In this regard, a joint data portal was developed by NIOT, INCOIS, and PMEL-NOAA consisting of data from NIOT-OMNI buoys and NOAA RAMA buoys in the Indian Ocean region.



Objectives of the Programme


  • Establishment and maintenance of Moored Data Buoy network in Indian seas.
  • Real-time data collection of met-ocean parameters in Indian seas.
  • Dissemination of data in real time to INCOIS.
  • Establishment and maintenance of Tsunami buoy system and data dissemination to INCOIS.


Best of practice method is adopted for reliability and standardization which is recognized by "International Oceanographic Data and Information Exchange" (IODE) of the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) of UNESCO and buoy data are disseminated to the global community through Global Telecommunication Systems (GTS).
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To study the presence of plastics (macro and micro) in the North Indian Ocean, a project on Assessment of Marine Plastics in the North Indian Ocean under Marine Litter and Micro Plastic was sanctioned by Ministry of Earth Sciences jointly with National Centre for Coastal Research. In addition under the Indo Japan collaboration efforts are initiated to work with JAMSTEC Japan. Under this programme a Best Practice methodology is developed following internationally used practice. Various sampling gears to collect and isolate macro and micro plastics on surface, midwater column and seabed has been developed. Ref: (Documents)



Briefing for Ocean Best Practices System-UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development meetings held at National Institute of Ocean Technology, Ministry of Earth Sciences, India on 10th January 2020.(View Document)

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