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Real-time measurements of oceanic waves using connected buoys and mobile stations

Project description

Sensors and connected buoys for oceanic wave measurements

Real-time measurements of winds and waves are critical, but current technology cannot provide information on changes in air or water conditions as they happen. This makes it challenging to respond swiftly to changing sea conditions. Funded by the European Research Council, the REALTIMESEA project will address this issue by deploying wireless wave sensors on a buoy. These will be connected to transmit immediate, raw data on air and water state at a specific sea location. The information will be sent to a mobile station with minimal communication expenses. The project harnesses new maritime wireless networks that will enable real-time wave measurements. Proof-of-concept tests will be carried out during a one-year campaign off the coast of Inishmaan, Ireland, with the aim of optimising the measurement system, developing software, and creating a kit manual.


The ERC Advanced Grant HIGHWAVE is a current project that studies the physical mechanisms underlying the emergence of destructive breaking waves on the ocean’s surface. The recent months have shown the multiplication of abnormal atmospheric disturbances generating extreme winds and waves that surprised forecasters. It is therefore essential to be able to extract useful information from real-time measurements of winds and waves. In planning to address this problem from a science perspective, we discovered a critical gap in all current approaches to ocean wave measurements and maritime communications. There is no existing technology that provides air and water information (wave amplitude and direction, wind speed and direction, current speed and direction) of any given sea state in real time. The lack of any technique providing instant access to a sea state makes it extremely difficult to adapt to a changing sea state and to act fast.

REALTIMESEA will fill this gap, using wireless wave sensor technology deployed on a connected buoy to measure and transmit instantaneously to a fully equipped mobile station the raw data of the sea state (air and water) at a given location at a very low communication cost. Considering that our idea can be extended to a linked network of connected buoys, thus adding a spatial component to the real-time measurements, one can say that the ability to track sea states in real time and space will represent a revolution in wave forecasting, with expected commercial applications for multiple “end users”.

Taking the real-time measurement of waves to Proof of Concept is made possible because of the recent development of maritime wireless networks, that enables Wi-Fi data coverage over large areas of water within a 12 km radius from a shore station. A 1-year campaign off Inishmaan, Ireland, will allow the optimisation of the measurement system, the development of the required analysis software and of the manual for the buoy/mobile station kit.


Host institution

Net EU contribution
€ 61 875,00
91190 Gif-Sur-Yvette

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Ile-de-France Ile-de-France Essonne
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Total cost
No data

Beneficiaries (2)