Tropical Pacific Observation System

Three missions to test the Saildrone platform as part of the Tropical Pacific Observation System monitoring weather and climate in the Pacific Ocean.



operation area

Tropical Pacific

deployment location

Saildrone HQ


Saildrone conducted three annual missions funded by the NOAA Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research (OAR)/CPO/GOMO and NOAA/OMAO as a pilot study for the Tropical Pacific Observing System (TPOS)-2020 project. The first mission was deployed from California; the second and third missions were deployed from Hawaii. The vehicles performed various intercomparison surveys with buoys and ships from California to the equator. In 2017, the vehicles also participated in the Salinity Processes in the Upper Ocean Regional Study (SPURS)-2 field study, which included side-by-side data acquisition with a Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) buoy, and the RV Revelle.


The preliminary data revealed findings regarding sea surface temperature shifts previously undetectable by satellite or buoy.

“We are surprised by how abrupt these fronts are. Some of these warm water fronts are so sharp that the ocean is changing a whole degree in temperature over less than a kilometer."

Megan Cronin, oceanographer at NOAA Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory