ST. IGNACE, Mich. (WJMN) – On Friday, August 12, Michigan Technological University and the Great Lakes Observing System (GLOS) are bringing together elected officials, state agencies, community members, businesses and researchers to commission a high-frequency radar (HFR) system installed in the Straits of Mackinac.

The Safety in the Straits project is designed to make high-value water data available to more people. Michigan Tech used finding from GLOS and Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) to install the HFR system over the course of a few years.

“We chose the Straits for its strategic importance,” said oceanographer Lorelle Meadows, a research associate professor in cognitive and learning sciences at Michigan Tech and founding dean of the Pavlis Honors College. “It’s imperative for us to have the best technology available for environmental monitoring, search and rescue, shipping and other important applications that rely on a more complete understanding of the currents in this complicated area.” 

In a release from Michigan Tech, there has long been a need to understand water currents in real time. This would assist with things like navigation, research, search and rescue, and real-time intelligence in the event of an environmental incident.

“After seeing high-frequency radar applied in ocean communities, we knew it would be useful to monitor many of the Great Lakes’ critical waterways,” said Kelli Paige, CEO of GLOS. “The need for quality, real-time current data in the Straits was clear.”

In Spring of 2022, following the installation of the CODAR Ocean Sensors system, information started becoming available to the public through Upper Great Lakes Observing System web apps.

“The high-frequency radar that Michigan Tech deployed in the Straits of Mackinac is a great example of the power of collaboration,” said Tim Havens, director of Michigan Tech’s Great Lakes Research Center. “Together with GLOS, EGLE and CODAR, the GLRC was able to install the very first current-monitoring radar on fresh water, showing that we can accurately track the movement of the water in the Straits. This capability can, for example, provide emergency responders vital real-time information for search and recovery efforts.”

Live data will also be available in the near future on the GLOS Seagull platform.

Friday’s event will be livestreamed here.