As of early August, the NOAA Chesapeake Bay Interpretive Buoy System (CBIBS) has six buoys deployed and reporting data in near-real-time. These buoys are located at:
All six buoys are now “new” buoys that include the new-style hull as well as the new model of onboard computer. Our intention is to operate these six buoys for the time being, continuing to monitor the new equipment to assess how it is all working and to iron out any issues on these platforms before adding any additional locations. If the new platforms (hull + onboard computer + sensors + transmission of data back to shore) operate well, we could consider deploying a seventh buoy in the fall.
All of these buoys are in locations where we would plan on leaving them in the water for the winter (in case of severe cold and icing, any/all of them could need to be pulled to keep them safe from damage).
In addition to assessing the new equipment, our buoy technicians will continue to maintain the existing buoys. Our partners at the Maryland Department of Natural Resources and Virginia Institute of Marine Science work to keep our water-quality sensors working happily, and pitch in in other ways, too.
Sensors and cables can fail, and other issues with the buoys can arise, that require our experts to take one or more trips out on the water to fix. For example, they will need to acquire replacement parts and then spend time on the water to replace a damaged solar panel from an apparent boat strike at the Annapolis buoy. (Note the significant dent toward the top of the panel.)
In addition, the team has identified some anomalies in data transmissions from the Point Lookout buoy. While the intention is that observations are sent from each buoy back to shore in a “package” of data every six minutes, that has not reliably been happening at Point Lookout. Data do eventually end up making it back to shore to fill in all the data points, but our standard is every six minutes. Our buoy experts plan to swap the onboard computer at that location with a new computer to remedy that situation.