National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration
United States Department of Commerce


FY 2011

The global tropical moored buoy array

McPhaden, M.J., K. Ando, B. Bourlès, H.P. Freitag, R. Lumpkin, Y. Masumoto, V.S.N. Murty, P. Nobre, M. Ravichandran, J. Vialard, D. Vousden, and W. Yu

doi: 10.5270/OceanObs09.cwp.61, In Proceedings of the "OceanObs'09: Sustained Ocean Observations and Information for Society" Conference (Vol. 2), Venice, Italy, 21–25 September 2009, Hall, J., D.E. Harrison, and D. Stammer, Eds., ESA Publication WPP-306 (2010)

This paper describes the Global Tropical Moored Buoy Array (GTMBA), which is a multi-national effort to provide data in real time for climate research and forecasting. Components of the global array include the Tropical Atmosphere Ocean/Triangle Trans-Ocean Buoy Network (TAO/TRITON) in the Pacific, the Prediction and Research Moored Array in the Tropical Atlantic (PIRATA), and the Research Moored Array for African-Asian-Australian Monsoon Analysis and Prediction (RAMA) in the Indian Ocean. The phenomena of primary interest span intraseasonal-to-decadal and longer timescales, including:

  • El Niño/Southern Oscillation and its decadal modulation in the Pacific
  • The meridional gradient mode and equatorial warm events in the Atlantic
  • The Indian Ocean Dipole
  • The mean seasonal cycle, including the Asian, African, Australian, and American monsoons
  • The intraseasonal Madden-Julian Oscillation, which originates in the Indian Ocean but affects all three ocean basins
  • Trends that may be related to global warming

Sustained, systematic and comprehensive observations are necessary to advance knowledge of critical processes that govern climate dynamics originating in the tropics. Observations are also needed to develop, initialize, and validate climate forecast models that can be used for advance warning of natural hazards and for many other societal benefits. A global tropical perspective is required not only because of the range and complexity of tropical phenomena that affect the climate system, but also because of basin-to-basin interactions that affect the evolution of climatic fluctuations. This paper reviews expansions and enhancements of moored buoy measurement efforts in the tropics since the October 1999 OceanObs99 Conference in San Rafael, France. We will also highlight major scientific advances enabled by the Global Tropical Moored Buoy Array over the past 10 years.

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