Access High-Resolution Ocean Data Sets at

The Saildrone Data Explorer is designed to make Saildrone data easy to find, download, and use for scientific and educational purposes.

April 6, 2020

Saildrone’s global fleet of unmanned surface vehicles (USVs) has traveled more than 500,000 nautical miles—and counting—in the Arctic and the Antarctic, across the Atlantic and the Pacific, and in the Caribbean, Mediterranean, and North Seas. Each vehicle is equipped with a suite of science-grade sensors to measure nearly two dozen variables above and below the sea surface every minute. The result is a series of large-scale data sets describing many parts of the world’s oceans that have never been observed in such detail.

There are numerous data repositories around the world that host scientific data. NOAA hosts all of its Saildrone data at the publicly accessible NOAA PMEL ERDDAP server. The Physical Oceanography Distributed Archive Center (PO.DAAC) maintained by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory serves satellite-derived ocean and climate data; the European Marine Observation and Data Network (EMODnet) is a resource for marine data collected in Europe; Surface Ocean CO₂ Atlas (SOCAT) is a repository for carbon data; ICES holds the public archive of Saildrone fisheries acoustic data; and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO)’s Global Telecommunication System (GTS) collects and delivers near-real-time weather data. These and other organizations include some of the data sets generated by Saildrone, but there are few repositories that archive the wide variety of measurements that Saildrone USVs can collect on a global scale.

Saildrone adheres to the FAIR data principles of making digital scientific assets findable, accessible, interoperable, and reusable (Wilkinson, Dumontier, et al. 2016). The Saildrone Data Explorer at is designed to make Saildrone data easy to find, access, and use for scientific and educational purposes.

Data sets collected as part of a Saildrone Award and philanthropically supported missions are available, for example, the 2019 Antarctic Circumnavigation and the 2019 Atlantic crossing from Bermuda to the UK and the return trip from the UK to Newport, RI, as well as some missions involving public-private partnerships with national and regional scientific organizations.

Saildrone high-resolution data sets
Click “Browse Data” in the navigation menu of to see a list of available data sets.

The 3D globe provides a visual explanation of what types of data we have collected in what regions, and how many samples have been collected to date. Click “Browse Data” in the navigation menu to see a list of available data sets. Sort by name, geography, date, partner organization, or number of saildrones. Click on any data set to view detailed information about the mission and the variables collected; data sets are available to download in one-minute, one-hour, and 24-hour timescales.

The data is open and available for non-commercial purposes. Data is primarily provided raw in NetCDF (Network Common Data Form), which is a self-describing file type that contains not only the data values but the metadata related to those values.

“One of our goals with is not only to share the data but to provide as much context as possible about the data and why it was collected. That includes published papers that use the data, articles in the media, and articles published on the Saildrone blog,” explained Kimberly Sparling, Senior Product Manager of Data Services at Saildrone.

The Saildrone vehicle makes data collection cost-efficient at scale—and cost efficiency increases dramatically the more times the data is used. The Saildrone Data Explorer makes it easier to access these recently collected, novel data sets for oceanographic, atmospheric, and biogeochemical research.

The United Nations has declared 2021-2030 a Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development to encourage public and private stakeholders to work together to strengthen the management of our oceans and coasts for the benefit of humanity. Saildrone hopes to facilitate the partnerships, ideas, and solutions by making as much data as possible available under the FAIR principals.

We encourage scientists, researchers, and students to download and analyze these data sets. If you have used Saildrone data for a published paper or if you would like to provide feedback about data quality, please contact us at data [at]

Is there data type or geographical region you would like to see Saildrone data from? Let us know!

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Mark D. Wilkinson, Michel Dumontier, et al., “The FAIR Guiding Principles for Scientific Data Management and Stewardship,”Scientific Data, 3, 160018, 2016