Marine Data Literacy 2.0

Providing instruction for managing, converting, analyzing and displaying oceanographic station data, marine meteorological data, GIS-compatible marine and coastal data or model simulations, and mapped remote sensing imagery





Home > 9. Operational/Synoptic > 9.37 Global Stations

9.37 Managing/Repackaging Recent Analyses from the Global Network of Fixed Stations: US NDBC

  • Exercise Title:  Managing/Repackaging Recent Analyses from the Global Network of Fixed Stations: US National Data Buoy Center (NDBC)

  • Abstract:  In this exercise you'll learn about the international network of fixed buoy and shore locations where the US National Data Buoy Center (NDBC) and similar international and national agencies maintain moored buoys and shore stations where meteorological and oceanographic measurements are made.  These are a major part of the growing international operational system being developed under the Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS).  The data formats available do not readily lend themselves to rapid use in Integrated Data Viewer or Saga, but the excellent graphical products can easily be captured for local use.  This exercise includes information about how you can incorporate ("republish") these products into local websites to create Current Condition-type presentations.  THIS LESSON IS PROVIDED FOR EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY.  NO ONE SHOULD ATTEMPT TO RELY ON THESE ANALYSIS PRODUCTS FOR NAVIGATION OR FOR ANY OPERATIONAL PURPOSES AT SEA.

  • Preliminary Reading (in OceanTeacher, unless otherwise indicated):

    • N/A

  • Required Software:

    • HTML website editor

  • Other Resources: 

  • Author:  Murray Brown

  • Version:  4-17-2014

1.  Open the main NDBC website and take some time to read through all the resources here.  It covers NDBC-sponsored sites and many other sites of other programs.
2.  Check out the menu of major-programs on the left.  Some are very large stand-along projects, and some are ongoing international cooperatives.
3.  Above the site map you'll see these selection controls for 10 major programs ("Program Filter"), and over 100 individually sponsored ("Owner Filter").  Leave it untouched if you want to see everything, otherwise make any selections you want.  For the exercise below, check RECENT DATA.

4.  This is a closer look at the site map.  Bright yellow diamonds are of prime interest to us for operational data, and especially large diamonds for tsunami indications.  You can use the usual PAN method to move the map, and SHIFT key should be used with the cursor to ZOOM.

5.  Just to show you how the map works, here we've clicked on a diamond near India.  It directly reveals a water-level graphic.  Notice the VIEW DETAILS control just below it.  This is the universal way to get to data or products on this map.  [The direct graphics are actually somewhat rare.]
6.  Here we've clicked on on another diamond to show the most common response:
  • Current conditions data
  • Another VIEW DETAILS link (try it if you want)

Let's move on to another area to explore deeper.

7.  Here we've used the SHIFT plus cursor to zoom into the Liberia area.
8.  Click on the diamond closest to Liberia and you'll see these data.  Click on the VIEW DETAILS control to see what's there.


9.  And here's the typical station page, showing more information and with links to data or products.  Take the time to read over it and see what's here.

NOTE:  These data cover only the most recent 5 days.  There are often menu selections just below for longer periods.  You have to do your own explorations to find the best products for your purposes.

10.  Before you do anything else, COPY the URL of this station page and save it in a scratch file:
11.  Before you use any data or products from this page, change the UNITS OF MEASURE to METRIC, and the TIME ZONE to the appropriate location for this exercise or for your personal project, as necessary.

Click SELECT to apply the choices.

12.  Along the left side of the station page you'll see little "graphics" symbols (as in Panel 9, above).

Click on the AIR TEMPERATURE symbol to see this graphic.

13.  Also find the URL for this graphic, and save it:
14.  Here is the WATER TEMPERATURE product.
15.  Here is the URL for that graphic, which should also be saved:
16.  And the WIND SPEED
17.  Save its URL:
18.  And finally, here is the WIND DIRECTION
19.  And its URL to save:
20.  Now you have the URLs for the station page and for 4 of the major products (there are others, so don't forget them when you make your own designs).  We're going to show you how to combine this information to make a nice Local Conditions page.

21.  Here is a sample Local Conditions page...everything within the red border.  It has the map copied from the NDBC website, and graphics freshly downloaded from NDBC whenever it is opened (or refreshed).  The station of interest can be highlighted by a label, as you see here.  But it is not easy to make an "arrow" connector from the data products below to the point (probably due to the self-sizing nature of HTML text).  You are welcome to come up with something better; make sure to tell me about it.

Below the site map are the 4 graphics, presented in different widths so you can see the effects of getting smaller and smaller.  The first one (AIR TEMP) is 600 pixels wide, and the others are 500, 400 and 300.  Obviously you don't want to go too small, and either 600 or 500 seems to be best.  You can click on the links in the left-side margin to see the original graphics in their native resolution.

Met Buoy 15002 (PIRATA Program) - All these data products, unless otherwise noted, were obtained from the website of the US National Data Buoy Center.  We are grateful to them and to their partner agencies for all the work behind these data. 

Air Temp

Water Temp

Wind Speed

Wind Direction

22.  How are the images "repackaged" from their original URL source to the above page:
  • Insert just about any image, as a dummy, into the page, with the size set to your preference (probably 600 or 500 pixels wide)
  • In your HTML website editor, change the location/name of the image to the URL you saved above (in this case, the URL for AIR TEMP)
23.  You are very lucky that the URLs above are perfect for showing the most recent 5 days of data, and the figures will automatically update every time your users look at the page.  This is not always the case, and you will find graphics that you want to "repackage" that contain specific time ranges that might cause problems.  We deal with this below in an easy case.  You need to look closely at any situations like this to fix the problem.  Perform some experiments to see if your "fix" actually works.
24.  Here is the sea level graphic you saw above in Panel 5.  If you use the URL for it by just copying it into the new HTML page, it will only work for 5 days and then it will be empty.  Why?
25.  Here is the URL for this graphic, as originally copied from the source (first bullet) and edited to fix the problem (second bullet)

The first URL contains the actual dates of the desired times; this will cause the image to be empty on the 5th day after 20140416.  You have to delete the string from the & sign.  Then you'll have the second URL, which works fine.

26.  For another example of the "repackaging" you can do, here is a map of the southern Brazil coast (simply copied from the NDBC website).  You can make "hot spots" over the symbols, and give them the same links as the original NDBC website map.  Click on any of the 3 station symbols below to see the results.  This provides a really nice "local" interface for institutional users, for example.  If you're lucky enough to be in Parana, then here's the weather at the beach today.

27.  Final Note:  You must cite the sources of your data and products, explicitly, as you see above.  Even if you think your website sufficiently identifies the original source, it's your responsibility to make this crystal clear in an explicit citation.