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Your October Update

For us, this October is marked by conferences, buoy recoveries, and some exciting releases.
In this email:
  • The new "Common Strategy for Smart Great Lakes"
  • Our first high-frequency radar pair for surface currents
  • Spotters now dot the lakes
  • Torontonian building a sensor network via mini-grant

Just published: the Common Strategy for Smart Great Lakes

Last week, the Smart Great Lakes Initiative published its guiding document, the Common Strategy for Smart Great Lakes.
The strategy charts a course for how the initiative will advance technology applications that improve our understanding of the Great Lakes and lays out 10 goals for:
     🧪 Science, innovation, and technology
     📈 Data and information
     🐟 Policy and management
In support of the strategy, initiative partners Aaron Packman and Kim du Buclet, recently published an op-ed in the Chicago Tribune. Read it here (paywall). [PDF] 
Read the press release

Real-time currents: our first high-frequency radar is going live

Installation finished this month on the two radar antennas in the Straits of Mackinac, one at each end of the bridge. Photos by Lorelle Meadows, Michigan Tech.

[View web version]

After years of planning, COVID delays, and assorted setbacks, our high-frequency radar (HFR) is now installed in the Straits of Mackinac, thanks to great work by Michigan Tech. Researchers Lorelle and Guy Meadows.
This is the first HFR installed in the Great Lakes. It will provide a map of surface currents every hour to support:

  • Navigation and boater safety 
  • Search and rescue operations 
  • Spill response
The radar pair, oriented westward due to the presence of the bridge, will build on other monitoring tools like buoys and numerical models. Image by Michigan Tech.
“Being able to use remote sensing to measure real-time surface currents over roughly a 10 square mile area in the Straits of Mackinac is an important regional accomplishment,” says Ana Sirviente, GLOS Chief Technology Officer. “The narrow channel between Lakes Michigan and Huron sees strong oscillating currents in an area with pipelines underneath and heavy shipping traffic.”
Data, like this from radar near New York City, will be available on the IOOS data assembly center, on, and, in the future, on Seagull.

Dozens of Spotter buoys now dot the lakes

GLOS currently serves data from 21 of the region’s approximately 30 Spotters, alongside dozens of other types of buoys (in blue). See real-time data from Spotters on by locating those with “SPOT” in the ID.
Small, low-cost buoys like the Spotter from Sofar Ocean have made a remarkable entrance onto the Great Lakes observing scene in recent seasons.
There are now approximately 30 region-wide, and these complement several other types of small buoys that are currently in use or in late-stage development.
Using these buoys to complement the larger, more traditional ones with expanded capacity allows the observing network to grow quickly to supply researchers, water managers, and boaters with more critical real-time conditions.
Read the article

This Torontonian is building a sensor network for his home islands

Philip Chatterton’s Flood Dogs measure water levels in real-time, and soon, because of a mini-grant from GLOS, 42 of his devices will monitor Toronto Islands. 
In 2017 and again in 2019, when Philip Chatterton saw lake levels rising around him and flood waters endangering his own home and community, he needed real-time information, and fast. 
“When they said that the water was 75.3 meters above sea level, it didn’t mean a lot,” said Chatterton, a former web developer and database administrator. “I wanted to know, Is the rail yard flooded? I wanted to know if I could get to the dock, on my boat or not. I wanted to know if I could get to my house.”
And so, in 2019 after the flood water subsided, over the next two years, Chatterton designed his first Flood Dog—a simple, open-source device that measures ground, surface, and lake water levels in real-time and sends data every 15-30 minutes. 

And, early this year, GLOS funded Chatterton’s project through a mini-grant, allowing him to build 42 devices, distribute them throughout the Toronto Islands, and build an API to start sending the data to Seagull.
Read the full story

P.S. Please don't fish near buoys.
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