Five “smart buoys” have been deployed in Chesapeake Bay to collect weather, oceanographic, and water quality data every 10 to 60 minutes as a part of the Chesapeake Bay Interpretive Buoy System (CBIBS).
The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration started CBIBS to measure and provide real-time data on the bay’s changing conditions and track its restoration progress. The data collected are transferred wirelessly to systems that make the data available to the public online and over the phone.
Buoys have been launched in the mouth of the Susquehanna River near Havre De Grace, Md.; the James River near Jamestown, Va.; the mouth of the Potomac River; the mouth of the Patapsco River near Baltimore; and the Rappahannock River near Stingray Point, Va. One more buoy is planned for deployment this year in the Elizabeth River near Norfolk, Va.
The system can be used by boaters in the area and educators. A curriculum, “Estuaries 101,” has been developed as a part of CBIBS to increase students’ knowledge of oceans, estuarine science, and oceans’ impact on daily life. The program can be used either in the classroom or in the field for elementary school through high school.
In addition, the buoys have been placed along the Capt. John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail, which covers 4827 km (3000 mi) along the bay and its tributaries, following routes taken by Capt. John Smith in 1607 and 1608. The CBIBS Web site includes an option to compare current water quality conditions to those Smith would have encountered.
The buoys monitor meteorological data, including wind speed, air temperature, and barometric pressure; global positioning system position; near-surface water quality, including water temperature, dissolved oxygen, and turbidity; and wave height, including direction and period. Data being considered for future collection from the buoys include passive acoustics from fish tags, nutrient sensors, water optics for satellite validation, and subsurface water quality.
For more information, including data collected from the buoys, see www.buoybay.org.