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What we use to gather data

Container ship

Information about weather conditions at sea is required for a number of purposes:

  • for forecasts and warnings to help ships avoid severe weather conditions
  • for forecasts and warnings for offshore operators
  • for input to regional and global computer models to predict the future state of the atmosphere
  • to monitor the state of the oceans and changes in the ocean climate
  • climatological information is also used for other purposes, e.g. design of ships and structures at sea.

The Met Office gathers marine observations from four main sources:

  1. Marine Automatic Weather Station (MAWS) network
  2. Voluntary Observing Ships
  3. Drifting buoys
  4. Argo floats

The Met Office requires marine observations, not just from the UK and its surrounding waters (e.g. from the MAWS network), but also from the North Atlantic and global oceans (from ships, buoys and floats). The collection of marine observations is co-ordinated internationally through the Joint WMO/IOC Commission on Oceanography and Marine Meteorology (JCOMM) which has individual programmes for observations collected from ships and buoys.  At a European level surface-marine observations form Voluntary Observing Ships and buoys are co-ordinated through the EUCOS Surface Marine programme (E-Surfmar).

These observations also support the Global Ocean Observing System (GOOS) and the Global Climate Observing System (GCOS).

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