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Historic Current Survey Data

Center for Operational Oceanographic Products and Services

Currents Discovery Kit, NOS Education

Tides and Currents Topic Page


Historic Current Data Now Available Online

Historic current survey data are now available online, providing users with faster, friendlier, and easier access to historical current information. 

An Acoustic Doppler Current Profiler (ADCP) waiting to be deployed on the deck of a NOAA vessel.

An Acoustic Doppler Current Profiler (ADCP), shown here waiting to be deployed on the deck of a NOAA vessel, is one tool scientists use to measure currents.

Previously, users looking for historic information on near shore currents had to request data on a case-by-case basis. Now, data collected from more than 200 stations over the past 12 years can be easily retrieved and plotted. Users can request data for a variety of depths and locations. Additional features include metadata information, enhanced plots, the ability to download the station listing in several formats, and the ability to download data sets in various units in either local time or Greenwich Mean Time.

The Center for Operational Oceanographic Products and Services National Current Observation Program (NCOP) collects and distributes present-day current observations and predictions at more than 70 stations around the United States on an annual basis. Mariners rely on the predictions to safely plan their navigation routes into a port or harbor.

Data from the last 12 years have been collected using upgraded technology that offers more reliable data than older equipment. New equipment can be deployed for over a month without human interaction once deployed. Old equipment required the use of human manipulation for data collection. NCOP uses the data to calculate predictions that are then added to the U.S. Tidal Current Tables.

Data on the speed and direction of water movement can also help search-and-rescue personnel determine where the water may carry a missing person or floating object(s). Hazardous materials such as oil and fuel from tankers typically remain on or near the water’s surface, traveling with surface currents and winds. The speed and direction of tidal currents are needed to help determine the trajectory of such spills in the entire water column.  Recreational and commercial fishers also pay close attention to the timing and strength of currents to maximize their chances of catching fish.

Access to the historic data will give users ample data to run numerical models for applications such as investigating impacts of dredging and port expansion, forecasting beach quality, modeling flow, and calculating spill trajectories.