What is a data buoy?

April 07, 2016

Have you seen a large metal instrument, similar to the picture on the right, floating in the ocean and wondered what that device could be? What you have seen is a buoy (pronounced: boo-ee). A data buoy contains sensors used to monitor and collect atmospheric and oceanographic conditions.

The sensors and the solar panels (used as a power source) distinguish buoy.jpga data buoy from other buoys. They also allow collected data to be converted into an electronic signal and transmitted to shore or logged in the onboard data unit.

Despite its simplistic design, data buoys are used in a variety of applications. Real time sensors provide the capability for early detection, monitoring, and forecasting of weather occurrences and human activity. These sensors are extremely capable of measuring sea level changes less than a millimeter in the ocean. The enclosure of a data buoy is designed to support, protect and power a number of sensors of different modalities. The amount and type of sensors placed on the buoy vary based on application.  

How does a data buoy work?

A typical data buoy consists of two main components that contain sensory components; the base and the tower.

  • Supports the tower, buoy placement relative to the body of water, as well as underwater instrumentation
  • Some buoys contain anchors in the base, depending on whether the buoys job remains in motion or is stagnant
  • Underwater instrumentation packages are lowered down from the tower to a secure position in the base
    • These sensors mainly collect oceanographic information such as water conductivity, temperature and depth


  • Provides suitable mounting support for solar panels as well as terrestrial sensory instruments
  • Solar panels recharge the data buoys battery bank, providing power for the instrument
  • Terrestrial instrumentation collects atmospheric information such as wind speed, and temperature


CLICK HERE to learn more about our Barometric products.

Topics: Test and Measurement, Barometric, General Industrial