Campus: Cal Poly San Luis Obispo -- October 7, 2005
Cal Poly Awarded $3.4 Million Grant to Monitor California Ocean Currents
Cal Poly has received a $3.4 million grant from UC San Diego's Scripps Institution of
Oceanography and San Francisco State University to install a high-tech system to monitor
California's near-shore currents.
The ocean currents monitoring system will help combat pollution, aid in response to natural
hazards, and help understand the coastal ecosystem of California.
A total of $21 million was approved by the state Coastal Conservancy for the project. The
funding will come from two statewide bond measures approved by voters in 2002 and will not
add to California's budget deficit. Eight institutions, including Cal Poly, shared the funding
and will install the system from the border of Mexico to the Oregon state line. They expect
to have it up and running in two years.
The new system will collect hour-by-hour data, which will be available live on the Internet.
The data will be valuable to a wide range of Californians, from fishermen to marine researchers
to government agencies tracking pollution spills.
For mariners, ocean currents can be as important to navigation as air currents in the atmosphere
are to aviators. The data will enable maritime shipping companies to figure out faster routes.
For the U.S. Coast Guard, accurate information on currents will aid in the investigation and
recovery of planes and vessels involved in accidents and allow for more effective responses
to oil spills.
Long-term mapping of the current patterns will assist in the proper placement of outfalls for
new power and sewer plants. The data will be of interest to scientists tracking toxic algal
blooms and analyzing dispersal patterns of egg and larvae from marine life, including abalone,
crab and sea urchins.
California's program will serve as a model for a coordinated coastal monitoring network
envisioned by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration for each of the country's
coastlines. The monitoring system will rely primarily on high-frequency radar readings, but
also will blend in data from sub-surface current meters, open ocean drifters fitted with
global positioning system devices, wave buoys and satellite data.
Scripps is taking the lead for the Southern California campuses, while San Francisco State
University will oversee installation along the northern half of the state's 1,100-mile coastline.
Because Cal Poly is strategically located in center of the state, it will be represented in
both regions. Additional partners include the University of Southern California, UC Santa
Barbara, the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, UC Davis, which operates the Bodega Marine
Laboratory, and Humboldt State University.
Professor Mark Moline, from the Biological Sciences Department, will head up the effort for
Cal Poly, with operations scheduled into 2009. For more information, visit the monitoring
program's Web site at: www.cocmp.org.
Contact: Mark Moline, College of Science and Mathematics, (805) 756-2948,