Sharing Your Data: Data management and flow


Guide to inserting data on the GTS of WMO including a description of the Benefits of sharing data on the GTS. Platform sensor data, sent via the satellite, are decoded, processed into geophysical units, quality controlled, encoded in WMO code formats and disseminated onto the GTS in real time.

Near-real time and Archived data

Canada's Integrated Science Data management center » provides an archive of all buoy data on behalf of the DBCP and GOOS.Data coming from the GTS is usually available via the ISDM web site within 2 months of observation. Google Earth view »


The DBCP Technical Coordinator and the Task Team on Data Management will provide support to data buoy operators and data centers needing assistance in sharing buoy data.

Data Formats

  Generally, when considering data formats there are two distinct stages in the data flow:
  1. Communicating between the platform and the satellite (& data processing center)
  2. Communicating from the data processing centre to the data users (in real time this is usually the GTS of WMO).

1. Platform message formats


The following list of recommended Argos message formats is not a mandatory list. Users are free to use other formats. The recommended formats detailed here are considered reliable, efficient, and practical.

The GTS Technical File for Argos is described in the Guide to the GTS - Appendix A

Remark: Below some obsolete formats are listed. These are no longer recommended by the DBCP but may continue to be used:


The Iridium drifter pilot project has tested several standardised formats and currently suggests the following formats be used for Iridium drifting buoys.

Recommended Iridium SBD dataformats for buoys

More information is available via the Iridium Pilot Project web site.


2. GTS Formats


Until November 1991, the WMO code format used for GTS distribution of drifting buoy data was FM 14-VII DRIBU. It was then replaced by FM 18-IX Ext. DRIFTER in November 1994. Since then, the formal WMO code used for drifting buoys has been FM 18 BUOY (current version is FM 18-XII BUOY).

The WMO is encouraging the migration of all data on the GTS to FM-94 BUFR - Binary Universal Form for the Representation of Meteorological Data by 2012. BUFR is implemented using standard formats known as templates for each data stream. The DBCP has developed two templates so far and will develop others in cooperation with other GOOS groups. To facilitate this, GOOS has setup a Task Team » which works with WMO on behalf of DBCP.

Table-Driven Code Forms (TDCF) for buoys: BUFR or CREX

  • Binary universal form for the representation of meteorological data(FM94 BUFR)
  • BUFR template for representation of data from moored buoys (TM315008)
  • BUFR template for representation of data from drifting buoys (TM315009)
  • BUFR/CREX templates for tsunameter data and dart buoy system messages (TM306027)

BUFR/CREX checker applications