Scientists of the Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services (INCOIS) and the Centre for Earth Science Studies (CESS) have successfully installed a wave rider buoy at the sea off Valiathura in May 2011.
The buoy is an early warning and information system for knowing the current state of sea. Packed with electronic sensors, it will generate data on waves, tide, ocean currents, and sea surface temperature. The data will be processed and the information then will be used for weather forecasting and early warning of cyclones, tidal waves, storm surges, and tsunamis.
Apart from the wind direction, wave height, wave length, and near-shore characteristics, all of which are crucial for fishermen venturing out to sea, the electronic display board installed on the buoy will show the potential fishing zones. Any abnormal measurement in the wave characteristics will be issued as a warning, they said.
The measurement of wave parameters is done using an accelerometer, which is the heart of the buoy. The data generated is transmitted through high frequency waves, satellite (INSAT), and mobile phone.
The data is used by INCOIS to generate numerical (computer) models to predict the future of the sea state. The models are run in the super computer installed at INCOIS for accurate prediction of storm surges, swell waves, and other abnormal conditions. The forecast is then disseminated through digital display boards, SMS, email, TV, and FM radio. High wave alerts are issued during the formation of a cyclone or the onset of south-west monsoon.
INCOIS is collaborating with NGOs, universities, and departments of the State government for dissemination of the forecast to end users such as fishermen, and to collect their feedback. The system is already in operation in Puducherry, Ratnagiri, and Karwar. By the end of the year, a second buoy will be installed off the coast of Kozhikode.
The data generated by such buoys can be used by fishermen, ports, harbours, and maritime boards for safe navigation of vessels; oil companies can use it for exploration and safe operations at sea; and the Coast Guard and Navy can use it for search and rescue operations, management of oil spills, and strategic planning.