The buoy is back!


The weather buoy M5, which played such in important role in predicting and recording the record wave heights off the coast last December, is back in action again.

The buoy, located 50km off the Wexford coast, has been successfully redeployed after being offline since early February.

It is now transmitting a wide range of information on wind speed and direction, atmospheric pressure, wave height, sea and air temperature - all of which can be accessed online via the Marine Institute’s website.

“Keeping the weather buoy network fully functional in as harsh an environment as the Celtic Sea, can be extremely challenging” - said Dr Peter Heffernan, CEO of the Marine Institute. “After the M5 weather buoy stopped transmitting on the 3rd February, it was recovered a week later and replaced by a second buoy - which, in turn, failed after only two weeks. Bad weather and complex engineering issues has constantly hampered any attempt to recover and replace the second buoy using our smaller vessel RV Celtic Voyager - but, her larger sister ship, RV Celtic Explorer, finally managed the job on the 30th May.

"I would like to pay tribute to our partners in the Department of Transport, Met Eireann and the UK Met Office in creating the network, which continues to provide information vital not only to maritime safety and survival, but also to our understanding of the oceans and climate change.”

In addition to the floating weather buoy network, which is exposed to waves and wind, the Marine Institute - together with a range of other bodies - is planning the deployment of an array of submerged sensors and instrumented buoys in Galway Bay, as part of the SmartBay system.

Phase 1 of this network - which will consist of a number of instrumented buoys located at sites critical for climate change, aquaculture and wave energy research - will be deployed shortly on the west coast of Ireland. These buoys will provide a wide range of oceanographic and environmental information - leading to an even greater understanding of our seas and oceans.

The Irish Weather Buoy Network is a collaborative project between the Department of Transport, Marine Institute, Met Eireann and UK Met Office.  The weather buoy network consists of a 5 buoy network around the coast of Ireland, with one located well into the Atlantic.

These buoys are equipped with a sophisticated array of sensors which report hourly data on -

  • Wind speed and direction
  • Atmospheric pressure and humidity
  • Significant wave height and period - and
  • Air and Sea temperature.

Since it provides near real-time data, the Network significantly increases the accuracy of forecasts and consequently contributes to improve safety at sea. Information from the buoy’s sensors is uploaded onto the GTS (Global Telecommunications System) and then used by European and Global Forecasters. It is also used to inform a wide range of users including - fishermen, sailors, ferries, coastal and offshore engineers, general public and science researchers.

The Marine Institute is responsible for the operational management of the network and services each buoy annually - or more frequently should it be required. Servicing takes place both on the RV Celtic Explorer and the RV Celtic Voyager. Each buoy is fully serviced every year, while the moorings are checked and replaced when necessary.

For more information and to access the databuoy section of the Marine Institute's website - Click Here