Tropical Pacific Drifting Buoys
Rick Lumpkin / Mayra Pazos, AOML, Miami
During February 2015, 342 satellite-tracked surface drifting buoys, 86% with
subsurface drogues attached for measuring mixed layer currents, were reporting
from the tropical Pacific. Several drifters near the equatorial west of the
dateline indicated very strong eastward anomalies of ~50 cm/s, indicating
eastward displacement of water from the western Pacific warm pool. Further
east, the drifters indicated anomalies which were also eastward, but not as
dramatic (~20 cm/s). Elsewhere, currents were close to their climatological
a) Top: Movements of drifting buoys in the tropical Pacific Ocean.
The linear segments of each trajectory represent a one week displacement.
Trajectories of buoys which have lost their subsurface drogues are gray; those with
drogues are blue.
b) Middle: Monthly mean currents calculated from all buoys 1993-2010 (gray),
and currents measured by the drogued buoys this month (black) smoothed by an
c) Bottom: Anomalies from the climatological monthly mean currents for this month.