In June 2005, the team installed two HF radar stations on the Beaufort Sea, at West Dock and Endicott Island, to record surface currents during open water and mixed ice periods. These sites remained in operation through October 2006, when they were moved to Cook Inlet to record surface currents until November 2007.
Dr. Tom Weingartner, associate professor of Marine Science at UAF School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences, is the chief investigator on the Cook Inlet/Beaufort Sea study. The SALMON Project research team has previously mapped surface currents using HF radar in the Beaufort Sea, Cook Inlet, Gulf of Alaska, and Prince William Sound under Dr. David Musgrave. In addition to examining the spatial and temporal variability of the surface currents, the team also seeks to understand how the HF radar performs and records currents with the presence of varying sea ice conditions, including during break-up and freeze-up.
These units have the capability to map the surface currents every hour on a two-dimensional grid of points separated by one km in each direction. The data collected through this study will contribute to the baseline oceanography of these two locations. Additionally, the data will be used by MMS for comparing hydrodynamic and circulation models used to develop oil spill risk analyses for offshore oil and gas operations.
"MMS is a unique participant in our nation's development of IOOS [Integrated Ocean Observing System]; we are a developer, a user, and a contributor," says James Kendall, MMS Studies Chief. "This project is an example of our effort to ensure that state-of-the-art technology is thoroughly explored as we strive for safe and environmentally sound operations on the OCS; a perfect match with IOOS societal goals."