Typhoons are an ever-present danger to nearly 1 billion people on coastal and inland regions of the north western Pacific Ocean. They can cause billions of dollars of damage, and cause thousands of deaths. Given this, early warning detection systems are vital. To that end, a research group in Taiwan is attempting to develop a network of high tech data acquisition buoys, that can gather real time data, in high resolution and relay it to Taiwan’s Central Weather Bureau.
Data can be sent every 12 minutes, which means that these buoys, if a network of them can be successfully implemented, could save lives. These new systems accommodate more meteorological and oceanic sensors than traditional moorings.
These buoys have also been specifically designed to record data about such storms on the open ocean. Lithium batteries can support the buoy with power for around 18 months before it needs recharging. The data acquisition system and electric power scheme are all designed to save power, and a specially designed cutter has been installed so as to prevent the buoy becoming entangled by fishing lines.
The problem with setting up such a network is not just that the buoys are expensive to make, but they require a number of precise instruments to calibrate, as well as support form ships and satellite communications.
So why aren’t satellites sufficient? They are very useful, but their sensors don’t penetrate far under the water. Therefore, using them in conjunction with a network of high tech buoys provides the most effective system to pre-empt, study, limit the effect of, typhoons.
Now, this is a world away from the data acquisition challenges that most people confront. Not only is the data itself complex and hard to analyse, the acquisition environment presents issues which are difficult to overcome. But if the system can be made to work it could provide an essential early warning, and save lives.