Waves, currents and radar

One of our scientists, Dana Savidge, recently received a $180,000 grant from the Georgia Research Alliance to continue with the development of a coastal radar system.

This high frequency radar system is built around two transmit-receive stations, one in South Carolina and the other on a coastal island south of Savannah, and is designed to monitor surface ocean currents on the Georgia continental shelf. It has a coverage area that runs roughly 125 miles north to south and extens out over 100 miles. It can “see” the Gulf Stream, which flows north along the edge of the shelf.

It works by focusing on a particular size wave. With the two transmit-receive stations, it can detect and measure the speed and direction of the surface waves. Since the speed a particular size wave moves over still water is known, that factor can be subtracted out and you end up with the speed and direction of the actual water.

Dr. Savidge’s primary interest is researching the way water moves around on the shelf, inshore of a boundar current (Gulf Stream). However, once fully operational and calibrated, the system can also have some practical applications, like search-and-rescue and chemical spills.
For information, check out our Web site.

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