Autonomous Drifting Ocean Station (ADOS)™ 

Technical Description

  • Modified 35 cm spheroid surface float
  • GPS based tracking
  • Iridium Short Burst Data (SBD) telemetry
  • Sea surface temperature (±0.05 K accuracy)
  • Sea level wind speed and direction (wind speed: 2% accuracy FS)
  • Sea level barometric pressure sensor (±0.4 hPa accuracy)
  • Temperature and water pressure sensor chain up to 200 m depth
  • User-customizable node configuration
  • Compatable with third-party inductive protocol instruments
  • Variable sampling rate down to 5 minutes

> Download technical illustration (312 KB pdf)


The surface buoy is identical to the one used for the MiniMet (SVPBW) drifter and a 150 m long tether replaces the drogue, thus making the ADOS a non-Lagrangian device.


Thermistor Chain

The surface float measures sea surface temperature, while a customizable tether length and set of nodes measure water pressure and temperature. The typical hurricane configuration of the thermistor chain includes 10 nodes that are attached to the cable with equal spacing to 150 m depth. The subsurface nodes use inductive communication technology to send the data through the single-conductor impregnated steel wire rope combined with a seawater contact that closes the electrical circuit. The latest firmware can handle up to 30 nodes.

An enhanced version of the ADOS fitted with vertically profiling acoustic current meters was used to measure the properties of large-amplitude, nonlinear internal waves in the northern South China Sea (Centurioni, 2010). 


Air Deployments

The ADOS is available as an air-deployable system.

Several air deployments have been made to date to measure the temperature structure of the upper ocean during the passage of tropical storms and the evolution of the cold wake (D’Asaro et al., 2013; Hormann et al., 2014b; Mrvaljevic et al., 2013).


D’Asaro, E.A., P.G. Black, L.R. Centurioni, Y.T. Chang, S.S. Chen, R.C. Foster, H.C. Graber, P. Harr, V. Hormann, R.C. Lien, I.I. Lin, T.B. Sanford, T.Y. Tang, and C.C. Wu. 2013. Impact of typhoons on the ocean in the Pacific. Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society 95:1,405–1,418,

Centurioni, L.R. 2010. Observations of large-amplitude nonlinear internal waves from a drifting array: Instruments and methods. Journal of Atmospheric and Oceanic Technology 27(10):1,711–1,731,

Hormann, V., L.R. Centurioni, L. Rainville, C.M. Lee, and L.J. Braasch. 2014. Response of upper ocean currents to Typhoon Fanapi. Geophysical Research Letters 41(11):3,995–4,003,

Mrvaljevic, R.K., P.G. Black, L.R. Centurioni, Y.-T. Chang, E.A. D’Asaro, S.R. Jayne, C.M. Lee, R.-C. Lien, I.I. Lin, J. Morzel, P.P. Niiler, L. Rainville, and T.B. Sanford. 2013. Observations of the cold wake of Typhoon Fanapi (2010). Geophysical Research Letters 40(2):316–321,