An experiment in data visualization explores where research buoys end up in Earth’s oceans.
When a research buoy is released in the ocean, where does it go? In a visualization experiment using ocean buoy data from NOAA's Global Drifter Database, NASA data visualizers depicted the migration of these floating science platforms in Earth's oceans. Over the last 35 years, NOAA has deployed thousands of ocean buoys worldwide. The buoys travel with currents, collecting important measurements of ocean properties like temperature and salinity that scientists use for weather forecasting and verifying observations from Earth-observing satellites. In the visualization, the buoys are seen migratating over time to five known gyres in the ocean where marine debris accumulates, the so-called ocean garbage patches. The visualizers used a computational model of Earth's ocean currents and virtual particles to confirm the result. Watch the video to learn more.