Ocean Systems Test and Evaluation Program

The Center for Operational Oceanographic Products and Services (CO-OPS) Ocean System Test and Evaluation Program (OSTEP) is within CO-OPS Engineering Division. Its central component consists of a group of physical scientists and marine technicians at the CO-OPS Atlantic Regional Field Office in Chesapeake, VA. The team’s mission is to research, develop, and test new and improved oceanographic and meteorological measurement systems to ensure that CO-OPS users have access to the most up-to-date products and services and that long term observations are being made in the most accurate and efficient way possible. The team accomplishes its mission by conducting the following primary duties:

  • Conduct research of new oceanographic and meteorological measurement technology, including commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) sensors and equipment, data collection platforms (DCPs), power systems, communications, materials, supporting structures, etc.
  • Select new COTS sensors for system development and test and evaluation.
  • Design, plan, and conduct laboratory and field tests required for system evaluation.
  • Analyze test results to quantify systems’ measurement accuracy and assess the suitability for use in CO-OPS applications.
  • Facilitate transition of new measurement systems from testing to operations; develop configuration, data sampling and processing methods, and QC guidelines.
  • Document guidelines for field installation of new measurement systems.

OSTEP projects rely on technical support from the Engineering Division’s Development Engineering Team (DET) for design and development of new measurement systems in preparation for laboratory and field testing. OSTEP and DET work closely together to accomplish the combined mission to research, develop, design, integrate, test, evaluate, and transition to operations new and improved oceanographic and meteorological measurement systems for CO-OPS’ 200+ water level stations, 20+ (Physical Oceanographic Real Time System (PORTS®) stations, and various water level and ocean current surveys/stations.

OSTEP/DDET team collaborates and communicates on a regular basis with other external entities both within and outside of NOAA (such as U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Geological Service, NOAA NWS Weather Forecast Offices, NOAA NESDIS, Office of Coast Survey, NOAA NMFS Chesapeake Bay Office, National Geodetic Survey, National Data Buoy Center, Virginia Institute of Marine Science, etc.) for the purpose of conducting joint or reimbursable projects, exchanging technical information, sharing data, and leveraging resources.