Save the buoys! GoMOOS!


GoMOOS sounds like some sort of Maine college cheer, but is actually the Gulf of Maine Ocean Observing System, a nonprofit I appreciate for many reasons, but most especially its Penobscot Bay Weather Buoy F01.  I love Buoy F.  Whenever I want, it offers me near real time wind, sea, current, temperature, and even visibility conditions, plus trends for each over the preceeding hours.  Which I use to reality check the current marine weather forecasts, and thus often make better informed decisions about what sort of boating I can do.  Meanwhile GoMOOS data is helping to improve the weather prediction models, and advancing ocean science in many other ways. Good sensors are so important. Just like on a boat, the fancy screens (or fancy forecast graphics) don’t mean much without accurate data feeds. So why the hell are GoMOOS and other regional weather buoys are getting pulled for lack of (fairly trivial) maintenance funds? And would you believe that I came across a pretty good answer on the Comedy Channel?

I think I was almost asleep in my cruddy Miami hotel room when ocean archeologist Robert Ballard visited the Colbert Report, but I came back to full consciousness. And I’m not surprised to find the whole clip on an environmental site.  Check it out. God/good is up; satan/bad is down.  Mind blowing factoid: NASA’s space exploration budget would fund NOAA’s current ocean exploration program for 1,600 years!  NOAA is not only having trouble supporting data collection, even in partnership with GoMOOS-style consortiums of universities and other research operations, it’s also reportedly strapped for funds to finish converting the raster chart portfolio into ENC vector charts. Which is a “keyboard ready” project if there ever was one.  I don’t know if NOAA got a break in the stimulus package or Obama’s giant budget proposal, but I hope so. In the meantime I just made a donation to GoMOOS and suggest that you find out what’s happening with your local weather buoys.

Thumbnail image for Ballard_Colbert_cPanbo.jpg

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Ben Ellison

Ben Ellison

Panbo editor, publisher & chief bottlewasher from 4/2005 until 8/2018, and now excited to have Ben Stein as very able publisher, webmaster, and editing colleague. Panbo is going to the next level in 2019 and beyond.

8 Responses

  1. Roger B says:

    A “renowned oceanographer” reduced to being the straight-man for Colbert.
    What does it say about the audience that a “clown” is necessary to present a serious and fascinating subject which is then dumbed-down to Titanic and giant worms! Shame.

  2. Sandy says:

    Here’s a question for the New President Test:
    We have better maps of mars than our own oceans because
    a. They will help us better manage food sources for millions of starving people.
    b. They will save countless lives by understanding the dynamics of nature and noting hazards to transportation of vital commerce.
    c. They may lead us to vital new resources.
    d. They make sexier pictures on the six o’clock news.

  3. Dan Corcoran (b393capt) says:

    My first job was in the department of energy doing research, and it was amazing how badly we were underfunded. I remember spending days reviewing and erasing years worth of data with a powerful magnetic because there wasnt money in the budget for more floppy disks (remember back then hard drives were rare … all our research data and software resided on 5 1/4 inch disks)
    This is tragic. I had no idea bouys this good have been deployed since 2001 … and not only wasn’t the network expanded, but they are being pulled for lack of repair ?
    Taking a bouy that has collected 7 years of data … and then stop collecting it … it’s almost like erasing those floppy disks. While some good came of the original data, not monitoring the changes going forward is like throwing away those original disks.
    I am tired of hearing about shovel ready projects to add more bridges and roadways … when we can’t take care of the infrastructure we already have (which is arguably already better than the US can afford). How about maintenance projects everywhere now, while we urgently take the next 12-36 months to ramp up production and clear environment hurdles for windmills, nuclear power, electric grids, maybe pipelines to move hydrogen?
    And along with that maintenance now, how many jobs would it generate to produce 10 of these bouys every month (just the way they are without a 2 yr research project into a better bouy) and get collecting the data and harnessing the results?
    If we are going to spend tax dollars we cant aford to spend … lets spend it on these bouys rather than what … one new mile long bridge and connectors.

  4. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Robert Ballard must be a very good actor, because you’d never guess that his Colbert appearance made him feel shamefully reduced. Come to think of it, all sorts of smart, important people appear genuinely pleased to clown around with Colbert and Jon Stewart. Roger B, could you be missing something here?
    Those looking for a little hilarious dumbing-down will find it here, available whenever needed and almost commercial free:

  5. Sandy says:

    Not so harsh, folks! To explain something to a stranger, start in HIS language. How many peole heard and saw this; and how many of them would have been reached with letters to the editor and documentaries?

  6. Roger B says:

    Ben, it wouldn’t be the first time I have missed something.
    I am a fan of mainstream US humour. Frasier, Scrubs, Everybody Loves Raymond, Will & Grace etc but I don’t know Colbert from Adam – perhaps he is very funny and talented.
    Perhaps I prefer my science served up raw . . . . . YMMV.
    Apologies for any offence.

  7. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    No offense, Roger, and please pardon my snarkiness!
    Seriously, though, Colbert and Stewart have become very influential pundits, using smarts and wit, with dashes of pure silliness and low humor.
    And thanks for YMMV (“your mileage might vary”), which I had to Google…

  8. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    “The most talked-about journalism of this week wasn’t produced in the New York Times, CNN, Newsweek or NPR. It was Jon Stewart’s epic, eight-minute takedown…”

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