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: Research
: : HF Radar
: : : PWS
: : : Beaufort Sea
: : : Cook Inlet
: : : : Data Archives
: : : : Anchor Point
: : : : Nanwalek

Cook Inlet Currents

This project was completed in 2009. The final report can be viewed from the BOEMRE web site:

Click Here to send your questions and comments. All feedback is appreciated.

Example Surface Current Map

Project Background
Beginning in October 2004, the University of Alaska Fairbanks SALMON Project and CODAR Ocean Sensors began a study to understand patterns of surface currents in Alaska's Beaufort Sea and Cook Inlet. This program is examining the spatial and temporal variability of the ocean currents using high frequency Doppler radar and is funded by the Minerals Management Service.

Our Cook Inlet sites were located in Anchor Point and Nanwalek. This environment experiences high winds, intermittent sea ice, and a famously high tidal range; conditions that create surface currents that are highly variable in direction and magnitude. The data collected from the HF radars will yield insight into the circulation of the Inlet and assist in the safe operation of marine traffic in the region.

Image courtesy of NASA Visible Earth (

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."

CIBS-MAP is a collaborative project between the University of Alaska Fairbanks Sea-Air-Land-Modeling and Observing Network (SALMON) Project and CODAR Ocean Sensors. It is sponsored by the Minerals Management Service, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Adminstration the National Oceanographic Partnership Program. Boat support was provided by Alaska Clean Seas.


View Data

Preliminary Data Archives

Shape files will be available from the Alaska Ocean Observing System (AOOS)after May 2009.

(Times are given in GMT, not AKT.)

Please note: Current maps found on this site may differ from the actual ocean currents.

Monthly Maps

Click here to find out what the average surface current flow was during November 2006 through March 2007.