MetOcean Solutions is now hosting the direct data feed from the Southern Ocean wave buoy on our website, at www.metocean.co.nz/wave-buoy.
The instrument, which is the southernmost moored open ocean wave buoy in the world, was deployed on February 8, 2017 as part of a collaborative project between the New Zealand Defence Force and MetOcean Solutions.
"We are pleased to say that everything seems to be working according to plan," says Dr Peter McComb who was present at the deployment. "The buoy is located 11 km south of Campbell Island, a location infamous for its harsh conditions. On average, the island gets less than an hour of sunshine 215 days out of 365, and winds of more than 100 km per hour occur at least 100 days a year. The buoy is moored in a water depth of 150 m and is fully exposed to the predominantly westerly wave systems generated by the relentless procession of mid-latitude storms."
Southern Ocean important for climate
Senior Oceanographer Dr Tom Durrant is excited to be getting data from the Southern Ocean. "The Southern Ocean is known to play an important role in the Earth's climate system, cycling heat, carbon and nutrients,” he states. “Waves modify the air-sea fluxes and the mixed water masses are then redistributed by the Antarctic Circumpolar Current, creating a complex interacting system. Persistent mid-latitude storms combined with a lack of landmasses create large fetches and strong winds, ideal conditions for generating large waves.
"The waves generated in this region have far reaching effects, contributing significantly to the wave climate in all the major ocean basins. The New Zealand west coast, for example, is periodically battered by large swell systems generated in Southern Ocean storms.
Data will help ocean science
"Despite the importance of the region, there are almost no in situ observations in the Southern Ocean. Currently, there is no published wave spectra data from any location south of 47 S to the ice edge (at ~63 S in summer months). Remote altimeter observations provide a valuable source of significant wave height, and have been used to great effect in the Southern Ocean, but these do not provide spectral information which allows us to explore the details of the extreme sea states. The data from this deployment will fill a valuable gap in our understanding of waves in the region and provide a much needed ground truth for validating the global wave models. In recognition of this value, the data will be made freely available to the scientific community."