The Marine Unit
Irish Marine Data Buoy Network
In Ireland most of the marine observations over the past 100 years have been from ships. Each observation consists of visual reports of all or a selection of the following parameters:- the sea height and sea period, swell height, direction and period, wind speed and direction, cloud type, amount and height, visibility and general weather such as fog, rain, snow etc., and measured observations of pressure, air and sea temperature.
The Marine Unit is responsible for Met Éireann's Port Meteorological Officers who are based at several Offices around the country who train ships' crews to make weather observations.
Increasingly, over the past 10 years, the human observers are being supplemented by automatic systems that compile the information from sensors and send it to Met Éireann via satellite.
In 1999 Met Éireann, together with some funding from the Dept. of Communications, Marine and Natural Resources, placed an Automatic Weather Station (AWS) on board the Marine Institute's RV Celtic Voyager. This AWS sends hourly observations of wind speed and direction (corrected for the motion of the ship), air pressure, characteristic and tendency, air and dew point temperature and sea temperature.
Continuous long term observations are so important for forecasting and climatology that in November 2000 Met Éireann, in conjunction with the Marine Institute, the Dept. of Communications, Marine & Natural Resources and the UK Met Office launched the first in the series of 5 data buoys to be placed off our shores.
The first buoy M1, is located roughly 60 miles west of the Aran Islands. The buoy has been reporting hourly to Met Éireann since 0900UTC, on the 6th of November 2000.
The buoy reports wind speed - mean and gust, wind direction, pressure and pressure characteristic and tendency, temperature - air, sea and dew point calculated from relative humidity, significant wave height and wave period.
The second buoy M2, was deployed in the Irish Sea 20 Nautical Miles east of Howth Head, in April 2001.
The third buoy, M3 is located approximately 31 nautical miles southwest of Mizen Head and was deployed in July 2002.
The 4th in the series, the M4, was deployed in April, approximately 10 miles west of Rossan Point.
M5, the fifth buoy, was deployed in October 2004.
M6, the latest buoy, was deployed approximately 210 nautical miles westsouthwest off Slyne head on 25th September 2006.
Eventually all buoys will have the added capability of measuring oceanographic parameters, such as the speed of ocean currents and the temperature and salinity of the water at various depths.
Coastal Marine Observations: