In celebration of the 170th anniversary of the Met Office, Royal Mail has released a collection of eight stamps that represent the science, history and future of weather forecasting.   

The stamps showcase how the Met Office has evolved from its humble beginnings, with illustrations that include the storm barometer Robert FitzRoy, who founded the Met Office in 1854 and Barbara Edwards, the first British female TV weather presenter. 

We are pleased to announce that featured on these unique stamps is also the Mobilis DB 14000 buoy supplied by Hydrosphere — representing marine buoys that collect data for the shipping forecast, which was first broadcast via Morse code in 1925. 

Since the early 1900s, the maritime industry has made considerable strides in obtaining ocean and weather data. From wave height and direction, air temperature and wind speed, variables can now be accurately measured with ocean data buoys. 

Equipped with smart sensors that detect and process crucial information in real-time, these buoys provide valuable insight into (or a visual representation of) the water conditions for weather forecasting, shipping and more.  

So, how exactly are these recent developments in ocean technology boosting our ability to record such data? 

Improving the accessibility of ocean data

As processing complex ocean data is costly and cumbersome, there is always a risk of the field becoming exclusive and preventing oceanic knowledge from expanding. Without accessible technology, smaller organisations working on the water, such as fisheries, could lose out on incorporating wave data into their everyday risk assessments. 

Luckily, collective research initiatives, such as the World Climate Research Programme, aim to improve accessibility and encourage the sharing of ocean data. Equally, attempts to close knowledge gaps have been made by various organisations, including governments and the Global Ocean Observing System (GOOS). 

Data buoy solutions such as the AquaNode are also improving the accessibility of ocean data. This low-cost, lightweight data buoy has several attractive features that make it suitable for various applications — including offshore oil and gas sites, wind farms, ports and harbours and aquaculture sites. 

Capable of viewing wave data in near real-time, setting alerts and generating automated messages, this buoy can provide accurate, critical data for informed decision-making thanks to its high sampling frequency. The low-power consumption sensor can also be retrofitted to existing buoys, making it a highly cost-effective solution. 

Revolutionising data collection

Data collection has come a long way over the years — providing researchers insight into everything from aquaculture and shipping forecasting to facilitating maritime climate action. 

For example, The Ocean Cleanup’s ‘System 002’ was used to clear 282,787 kilograms of debris from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. The system collects data from the surrounding environment to inform computational models and predict where circulating currents will cause plastic waste hotspots to form, allowing clean-up teams to identify the best place to begin their extractions.  

Similarly, Mobilis supplied SINTEF’s floating marine laboratory in Norway with the Mobilis DB24000 data buoy in 2021, which has an impressive array of sensors on board that can perform various functions. Particle imaging, acoustic communications and a ‘plug-and-play’ interface for custom sensors offer climate researchers endless possibilities, from measuring the plastic or gas content of the water to capturing images as imperceivable to the human eye as phytoplankton.  

Increasing data-sharing capabilities

Although the way we collect ocean data via buoys has been vastly transformed since 1925, a lack of advanced data-sharing technology has previously stunted the maritime industry. 

Inconsistencies between buoy data and satellite data often complicate comprehension, and how oceanic data is shared also requires improvement. 

However, thanks to initiatives like The Ocean Data Challenge — a global call for start-ups and social enterprises to advance our ocean knowledge through technological innovations — that is set to change… 

For example, Terradepth is making data sharing and delivery easier than ever with its ocean data as a service (ODaaS) capabilities. Its autonomous underwater vehicles (AUV) transmit data through its custom, cloud-based user interface — leveraging technology and data platforms to make the ocean ‘virtual’ and data sharing simple. 

Italian technology company W-Sense has also developed technology that could revolutionise how mariners share ocean data. Its solution, the ‘Internet of Underwater Things’, works with a wide range of sensors (reaching up to 3000 meters) to permit the operation of real-time monitoring networks across large areas, including multiple underwater assets. 

Enhancing remote operations

Once data buoys are deployed, they must function optimally in harsh conditions with minimal intervention or maintenance to ensure user safety and enable the continual flow of accurate data. 

As such, buoys are now designed specifically for collecting data in extremely harsh ocean and weather conditions, such as the Mobilis DB 24000 autonomous floating laboratory. The Mobilis DB 24000 features an automatic ‘smart’ winch with an impressive array of sensors. Winch speed, depth and dive frequency can be controlled via remote control, allowing users to safely lower a cage of equipment from a remote location. 

Real-time data monitoring is also beneficial for mariners operating data buoys in remote locations, allowing for more informed decision-making on vessel dispatch and route optimisation, reducing safety risks for maintenance crews and improving the planning and efficiency for offshore site workers and transfer operations… 

With low power consumption and sensor and marine device compatibility, technology like our new and improved HydroWatch is ideal for remote maritime operations. With multiple digital and analogue inputs and outputs, HydroWatch can handle the user’s core applications — whether that is data gathering, status monitoring or remote control of assets.   

HydroWatch receives real-time data from the source (for example, marine traffic lights) and transmits it to a cloud server via 2G or 4G networks. This data is then displayed on a web portal via its accompanying HydroData system, which offers a centralised platform to easily track and manage marine assets that may be dispersed across multiple locations or set in remote environments.  

With plenty of opportunities arising from developments like these, a bright future lies ahead for ocean data. 

At Hydrosphere, not only are we partnered with world-leading innovators to supply you with first-class data buoys, but we also offer bespoke solutions to suit your unique needs. Get in touch with our friendly team at +44 (0)1420 520374 or email to discuss your requirements.