NMU gets grant to create coastal weather observation system

With the efforts of scientists at Northern Michigan University, a coastal weather observation system is getting underway along Lake Superior.

The college is leading the project, which is funded by $100,000 from the Great Lakes Observing System. The system to be established will include two monitoring buoys placed from Marquette to Grand Marais on the coastline. 

One, more permanent, will be near Munising in the Pictured Rocks area, logging observations of weather, water temperature and wave activity for boaters and kayakers. The other is more portable and will be moved along the shore to measure wave activity at places like Granite Island Light Station, Grand Marais and Whitefish Point. Together, they should provide better information about lake hazards.

"The hope is that this will allow for greater preparedness for coastal weather events, which will benefit the Coast Guard and fire departments for rescue purposes, as well as fisheries and recreational businesses that depend on the lake. It will also provide more advance warning of swimming and boating hazards, since waves tend to build up offshore first," says Norma Froelich, a professor in NMU's Earth, Environmental and Geographical Sciences department. 

The buoys will be positioned on the lake from May to November and will log data in real time to both a public website and to scientists and weather monitors. Also participating in the project are the Superior Watershed Partnership and LimnoTech, an Ann Arbor environmental consulting firm that specializes in buoys and weather stations.

Writer: Kim Eggleston
Source: Northern Michigan University
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