Sofar Spotter Archive
The ocean covers over 70% of the Earth’s surface, yet the majority of observations we have are on land. The scarcity of ocean observations, particularly direct (in situ) observations, limits the progress of ocean climate researchers, industry, forecasters, the government, and a host of other key stakeholders, all of whom crave access to ocean data at scale. As anthropogenic climate change raises ocean temperatures and sea levels, this hard-to-access ocean data will only become more valuable.  

At Sofar, we are committed to helping close the ocean data gap. Our global network of hundreds of free-drifting Spotter buoys makes more than 1.5 million observations at the ocean surface per day, an enormous dataset that we use to produce highly-accurate forecasts and optimized voyages for the maritime shipping industry.

We recognize, however, that Spotter observations have the capacity for broader impact in the hands of the community. To that aim, we are thrilled to make data collected by our global Spotter network from 2019 to March 2022 publicly available via the Sofar Spotter Archive. Ocean data enthusiasts, researchers, academics, and others can access this repository of over 7 million hours of observations free-of-charge and use it to advance their studies.

Fill out the form below then follow the links provided to access the Sofar Spotter Archive.
Sofar Spotter Archive FAQs
What is the Sofar Spotter Archive?
The Sofar Spotter Archive is a repository of hourly wave and inferred wind data collected by Sofar’s global network of Spotter buoys from 2019 to March 2022. The archive is publicly available and free to access.

What specifically is included in the Sofar Spotter Archive?
This dataset includes archival hourly wave and inferred wind data from Sofar’s global network of Spotter buoys from 2019 to March 2022. This includes bulk parameters (significant wave height, peak direction, inferred wind speed, etc.) and wave spectra data. The open ocean surface wave spectra dataset from the Spotter buoys is the largest dataset of its kind. Direct, in situ observations of wave spectra are historically very sparse, and often limited to coastal regions due to cost and maintenance of traditional instruments. The Spotter buoy is an innovation in buoy technology that has enabled persistent global coverage of 400-500 in situ buoys reporting data hourly on surface waves. This real-time data is used by Sofar to significantly improve wave forecast skill via data assimilation and is shared with a variety of government and academic institutions, including the NOAA National Mesonet program, NOPP Hurricane Coastal Impacts Project (ONR), University of Washington, Tokyo University, and the University of Melbourne.The archive is being released to enable the community to utilize this novel dataset to address scientific questions regarding the air-sea interface and open ocean dynamics that have been challenging to address prior. Understanding the wave climate is critical to both safety at sea and improved representation of the air-sea interface in weather and climate models.

Who can access the Sofar Spotter Archive?
This data is for basic research and can be used for a wide variety of ocean/earth science-related research. This includes climate research, weather forecasting experimentation, data assimilation, investigating air-sea processes, and understanding extreme events (e.g. hurricanes). Several peer-reviewed publications have been published using this data, aggregated here. Synthesis with other open datasets, e.g. ERA5 and other satellite datasets, can also yield valuable instrument inter-comparisons, assessments, and the development of novel proxy methods (ML or physics-based). We have uploaded both a NetCDF version for traditional use and zarr files of the same data for cloud-optimized use. We have also developed example tutorials demonstrating the zarr access methods to help users leverage the cloud-optimized format.We also encourage users to contribute back. Please open a PR in our GitHub repository and share your use cases (see example).

Questions? Please email us at