Barometer Buoys

What is an SVPB

Close-up of a recovered Barometer Buoy (Courtesy of H Viola)

Since the beginning of the DBCP it has tried to combine the sensors on drifting buoys to be useful for Meteorology and Oceanography, one way to do this is to equip a standard Surface drifter with a barometer port, as measurements of Air Pressure are vital for weather forecasting, especially in high latitudes. An SVPB is the result of this and is simply a drifter which measures sea-level Air Pressure with a Barometer port. The cost of an SVPB is higher than that of a standard SVP.

Barometer Upgrade Opportunity

Save $$$ - Add a pressure sensor to a drifter

SVPBs Pacific Gyre (Courtesy of H Viola)

The Global Drifter Programme (GDP), within the Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory (AOML) routinely deploys standard SVP drifters (SST only) in large quantities in the world oceans from the tropical regions to mid-high latitudes.

The GDP invites interested meteorological and oceanographic agencies to use the GDP potential of deploying standard SVP drifters by upgrading such buoys with a barometer (SVPB) and only paying for the equivalent cost of the barometer. This means that more buoys will be equipped with a Barometer and the buoys will collect more data throughout their lives.

Conditions for Barometer Upgrade Scheme

  1. For each SVPB deployed, GDP will pay for the equivalent of the cost of a standard SVP drifter (SST only). GDP will directly negotiate this price with the manufacturer and pay the cost to it.
  2. For each buoy deployed, GDP will pay for the Argos costs and ensure that the data are distributed on the GTS by CLS/CLS America. GTS distribution of the data will be under the responsibility of the Global Drifter Programme. Meteorological Agencies may request status changes regarding GTS distribution of the data via the GDC but not directly through Service Argos.
  3. The Meteorological/Oceanographic agency may suggest the deployment area and when the buoy is deployed. Coordination with the Global Drifter Center (GDC) regarding deployment area must be done ahead of the deployment (~ 3 to 6 months). This is to avoid redundancy and deployments in inappropriate area. GDP will do its best to deploy the buoy in the suggested area but may eventually decide when exactly to deploy it. If the Meteorological/Oceanographic agency can provide a ship for deployment in the suggested area then they should also advise the GDC about that.
  4. Any upgraded Drifters will remain a part of the GDC Argos Program.
  5. The GDC will arrange for the shipping of those Drifters.


  1. The GDC contact for deployment coordination will be Mr. Shaun Dolk. See contact details
    (, within the GDP Operations Center
  2. Meteorological agencies should directly negotiate the price of the barometer upgrade with the manufacturers and determine appropriate payment procedures with them. Choice of manufacturer will be discussed and agreed between the Meteorological/Oceanographic Agency purchasing the barometer and AOML.
  3. GDP will not be responsible for the performance of the barometers.
  4. In order to minimise additional workload on the GDP side., existing Argos message standard formats will be used, and Meteorological/Oceanographic agencies will work in cooperation with the GDP regarding deployment details and drifter operation.
  5. The following areas are suggested, although higher latitude deployments are possible:
      •  Tropical Atlantic - 30 N to 20 S
      •  Tropical Pacific - 20 N to 20 S
      •  Indian Ocean
      •  Southern Oceans - 20 S to 55 S

The DBCP expresses its appreciation to AOML for its offer to upgrade standard SVP drifters in this way.
(updated June 2007)