Virtual Tour

Scope and Relevance

The TAO/TRITON Array, designed for the study of year-to-year climate variations related to El Niño and the Southern Oscillation (ENSO), consists of approximately 70 moored ocean buoys in the tropical Pacific Ocean. The array is supported by a multi-national partnership of institutions and is a major component of global ocean and global climate observing systems.

TAO array
Scientists use oceanographic and meteorological data from the TAO/TRITON array for research into the causes of El Niño (ENSO warm events) and La Niña (ENSO cold events). The data also are fed into computer models that can predict the development of El Niño and La Niña up to one year in advance.
El niño or normal conditions
El Niño or normal or La Niña conditions
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ENSO events significantly alter global weather patterns, affecting the lives of millions around the world. They also affect Pacific marine ecosystems and commercially valuable fish stocks such as tuna and anchovy.

El Nñino Weather Patterns
Northern winter or summer
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Instruments and operation

The array consists of NOAA TAO moorings in the eastern and central Pacific and Japanese TRITON moorings in the western Pacific. TAO/TRITON moorings measure surface meteorological parameters, upper ocean temperatures and, at some locations, ocean currents. NOAA's new research ship, the KA'IMIMOANA, is dedicated to servicing TAO moorings, with an annual operating schedule of 250 days at sea. Significant shiptime is contributed by Japan to maintain TRITON moorings in the western Pacific.

An overview of the TAO system.
An overview of the TAO project, showing the operational component and real-time data dissemination.
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Data display and access

TAO/TRITON data can be downloaded from the web or via anonymous FTP. Graphical dislays of the data are provided in a variety of formats to illustrate the ever-changing environmental conditions in the tropical Pacific.

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