The Texas Automated Buoy System (TABS) is a coastal network of buoys designed to gather data and provide real-time information on surface currents and wind specifically for oil spill preparedness and response. Maintained for the Texas General Land Office by Texas A&M University, TABS is used to help create trajectory models that predict the movement of oil spills in the Gulf of Mexico. Created more than a decade ago, it remains the only system in the country to collect this kind of critical information.
TABS buoys provide current measurements every three hours under normal conditions and hourly during spill events.
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The TABS program also includes a forecast modeling and analysis component which is updated daily by Texas A&M. This program keeps a computer simulation known as the Regional Ocean Modeling System (ROMS) in continuous operation and is crucial during spill events.
In addition to its vital role in predicting where an oil spill is going, TABS has been used by the Coast Guard for search-and-rescue missions. In 2002, two buoys were loaned to the U.S. Navy to help retrieve the Ehime Maru, a Japanese vessel that was accidentally sunk by a U.S. submarine off the coast of Hawaii.