VENUS adds CODARs to Ocean Observatory

2011/01/04

The University of Victoria’s VENUS coastal ocean observatory is expanding its ocean observing network with technology provided by OEA Technologies Incorporated, Halifax.

Once installed, the CODAR HF radar system will monitor surface currents in coastal areas of the Strait of Georgia. “Researchers will use the surface maps of currents to monitor both tides and the fate of the Fraser River plume”, says Dr. Richard Dewey, the VENUS associate director, research. “The area is also heavily used for commercial shipping and regular operational products will be generated for the Vancouver Port Authority, Canadian Coast Guard, and BC Ferries”.

The VENUS system marks a milestone in Canadian efforts to monitor coastal environments, from coast to coast to coast. “Including the VENUS system, there are CODARs in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Quebec and British Columbia”, says Dr. Brian Whitehouse, OEA’s president. “Our next Canadian frontier is the Arctic, where we will interact with CODARs already deployed in parts of Alaska.” The U.S. has approximately 150 CODARs monitoring sovereign Atlantic, Pacific and Arctic waters.

“Within the last decade, CODARs have become the technology of choice for monitoring coastal surface currents over wide-areas”, says Whitehouse. The U.S. Coast Guard uses them in support of maritime search and rescue operations, and they were employed in the Gulf of Mexico to help mitigate effects of last year’s massive oil spill. HF radar technology has also been used to detect ships in sovereign waters, on an R&D basis, but it really took-off in the mid-1990s, when the marine research community incorporated HF radar systems into their emerging coastal ocean observatories. CODAR HF radars have since become an integral component of university efforts designed to understand and forecast coastal marine environments.

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According to ocean observing specialist Dr. Brian G. Whitehouse, the common view of the sea is based on perception, not fact.

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