High Frequency Radar (HFR) can resolve ocean currents to a scale of 1 kilometer and extend out to approximately 150 kilometers offshore. In addition to oceanographic studies, HFR has proven useful to applications such as supporting oil spill response, search and rescue, fisheries, and coastal discharge assessment.
Now, through the support of the Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS) and the state of California, a network of HFR systems provides unprecedented coverage of surface currents along the U.S. Pacific northwest coastline. In addition to the primary sponsors, research funds from the NCCOS-funded U.S. Global Ocean Ecosystem Dynamics (GLOBEC) program contributed to the early deployment and development of the first of the long-range HFR systems on the West Coast, and provided an early demonstration of the range and applications for the new technology.
The HFR system is highlighted in a recent issue in the Journal of Geophysical Research and the “Research Spotlight” section of the American Geophysical Union’s newspaper,EOS. This is an example of the long-term funding commitment often necessary for scientific research results to produce products useful to society.