Alternate Title

Development, Operation, and Results From the Texas Automated Buoy System


The Texas Automated Buoy System (TABS) is a coastal network of moored buoys that report near-real-time observations about currents and winds along the Texas coast. Established in 1995, the primary mission of TABS is ocean observations in the service of oil spill preparedness and response. The state of Texas funded the system with the intent of improving the data available to oil spill trajectory modelers. In its 12 years of operation, TABS has proven its usefulness during realistic oil spill drills and actual spills. The original capabilities of TABS, i.e., measurement of surface currents and temperatures, have been extended to the marine surface layer, the entire water column, and the sea floor. In addition to observations, a modeling component has been integrated into the TABS program. The goal is to form the core of a complete ocean observing system for Texas waters. As the nation embarks on the development of an integrated ocean observing system, TABS will continue to be an active participant of the Gulf of Mexico Coastal Ocean Observing System (GCOOS) regional association and the primary source of near-surface current measurements in the northwestern Gulf of Mexico. This article describes the origin of TABS, the philosophy behind the operation and development of the system, the resulting modifications to improve the system, the expansion of the system to include new sensors, the development of TABS forecasting models and real-time analysis tools, and how TABS has met many of the societal goals envisioned for GCOOS.