NOAA'S Adopt A Drifter Program

Frequently Asked Questions

How can my school adopt a drifting buoy? 
See the link called Apply to Adopt a Drifter.

How long does a drifting buoy last? A drifting buoy tends to last approximately 400 days in the water. After that time, its batteries may run low or the buoy may run aground.

Where is the temperature sensor on a drifting buoy? The temperature sensor is located on the very bottom of the buoy and remains in the water as the buoy bobs in the ocean water. See Dissect a Drifter to learn more about the buoy makeup. See Dissect a Drifter to learn more about the buoy makeup.

Who makes the drifting buoys? There are many manufacturers who make drifting buoys with different sensors attached that measure a unique set of ocean variables. Some of the manufacturers include: Technocean, Florida; Clearwater Oceanographic Instrumentation, Massachusetts, Marlin-Yug Ltd., Ukraine; Metocean, Florida; and Pacific Gyre, California

Why are there 1250 drifting buoys? The scientific design for the global surface drifting buoy array calls for 1250 buoys to be maintained worldwide based on the requirement for buoy measurement of sea surface temperature in combination with satellite measurements. One buoy is needed approximately every 500 kilometers, over the entire global ocean, to calibrate the satellites. If the global ocean is conceptually divided into 500x500 kilometer square boxes, it takes 1250 boxes to cover the ocean. One buoy per box equals 1250 buoys.

Why do some schools adopt multiple buoys? Depending upon the scientific demand for drifting buoys in different parts of the ocean, schools sometimes have the option to deploy more than one drifter in their area. Interestingly, when two buoys are deployed from the same location at the same time they don’t always follow the same tracking path. This information helps scientists learn more about the ocean currents that send drifters in different directions.