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Proceedings of OceanObs'09: Sustained Ocean Observations and Information for Society

COMMUNITY WHITE PAPER10.5270/OceanObs09.cwp.48

The Voluntary Observing Ship (VOS) Scheme

Elizabeth C. Kent(1), Graeme Ball(2), David I. Berry(1), Julie Fletcher(3), Alan Hall(4), Sarah North(5), Scott Woodruff(6)

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The Voluntary Observing Ships (VOS) Scheme is an observing program for marine meteorology, continuing a record extending back centuries. VOS are an important component of the surface observing system, providing air and sea surface temperatures, humidity, pressure, wind speed and direction, cloud cover, waves, ice and weather data. Observational metadata allow biases to be diagnosed and corrected. Despite its importance, the Scheme faces challenges. Observation numbers have declined as more data from satellites and buoys becomes available. However, buoys and satellites do not replace the full multivariate VOS record, which is needed for applications including climate monitoring, air-sea interaction and satellite validation. Other issues include changes to the transmission system and the security and commercial concerns of ship operators whose ships are identified in the data stream. Current initiatives are aimed at improving data quality, real time metadata availability and archival of data for climate applications.

1National Oceanography Centre, Waterfront Campus, European Way, Southampton SO14 3ZH, United Kingdom
2Chair JCOMM (Joint World Meteorological Organisation (WMO)/Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) Technical Commission for Oceanography and Marine Meteorology) Ship Observations Team, GPO Box 1289, Melbourne, Victoria 3001, Australia
3Chair SOT VOS, (Ship Observations Team Voluntary Observing Ship) Panel, Meteorological Service of New Zealand Ltd, P.O. Box 722, Wellington, New Zealand
4VOSClim (Volunteer Observing Ship Climate Project) Task Team Leader, NOAA/NODC (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration/National Oceanographic Data Center), 151 Patton Avenue, Asheville, NC 28801-5001, USA
5Chair E-SURFMAR-VOS (Surface Marine observation programme of EUMETNET Network of European Meteorological Services)-Volunteer Observing Ship), Technical Advisory Group, Met Office, FitzRoy Road, Exeter, Devon, EX1 3PB, UK
6Chair JCOMM (Joint World Meteorological Organisation (WMO)/Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) Technical Commission for Oceanography and Marine Meteorology) Expert Team on Marine Climatology, NOAA-ESRL (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration/Earth System Research Laboratory), 325 Broadway; Boulder, CO 80305 USA

Correspondence should be addressed to E-mail: eck@noc.soton.ac.uk

This paper shall be cited as:

Kent, E. & Co-Authors (2010). "The Voluntary Observing Ship (VOS) Scheme" in Proceedings of OceanObs’09: Sustained Ocean Observations and Information for Society (Vol. 2), Venice, Italy, 21-25 September 2009, Hall, J., Harrison, D.E. & Stammer, D., Eds., ESA Publication WPP-306, doi:10.5270/OceanObs09.cwp.48

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