Global Drifter Program Objectives

The Global Drifter Program (GDP) is the principle component of the Global Surface Drifting Buoy Array, a branch of NOAA's Global Ocean Observing System (GOOS) and a scientific project of the Data Buoy Cooperation Panel (DBCP).

Its objectives are to:

1. Maintain a global 5x5 degree array of ~1300 satellite-tracked surface drifting buoys to meet the need for an accurate and globally dense set of in-situ observations of mixed layer currents, sea surface temperature, atmospheric pressure, winds and salinity, and

2. Provide a data processing system for scientific use of these data.

GDP Structure


NOAA's Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory (AOML) coordinates deployments, processes the data, archives the data, maintaines metadata files describing each drifter deployed, develops and distributes data-based products and updates the GDP website. This component of the GDP is managed by Dr. Rick Lumpkin.


Scripps University supervises the industry, upgrades the technology, manufactures drifters, and manages some aspects of the Iridium data stream. This component of the GDP is managed by Dr. Luca Centurioni

Drifter Manufacturers

In addition to drifters manufactured for the GDP, manufacturers sell directly to the public. If you wish to purchase drifters, or discuss sensor subscription services (ie., Barometer Upgrade Program), please contact Drifter Manufacturers for pricing.