Surface current data collected using High Frequency Radars is helping aid search and rescue crews by reducing potential search areas.
IOOS is introducing state-of-the-art technology that aids search and rescue crews in mapping the probable path of people lost at sea. The technology is called high frequency radar. These systems can track ocean current speed and direction in near real time. Knowing how currents will move contents in the water is literally saving lives, taxpayer dollars, and reducing environmental impacts.
Tracking how contents will travel means search and rescue crews can better predict where people or survivor craft may be. Combing less area reduces search time and increases the chance of getting to a victim sooner. Ship pilots then use data from other IOOS sources on water elevation and depth, winds, currents and density to safely transport rescued passengers.
The Mid-Atlantic region installed 26 high frequency radar systems between Massachusetts and North Carolina. The region then became the first IOOS entity to officially transmit surface current data into a 24-hour forecast of tides and currents for the U.S. Coast Guard. The agency concluded it could save 50 extra lives per year if other regions did the same. IOOS is now working to input these data into a nationwide system by 2012.
In addition to helping save lives, reducing search areas also saves money. The taxpayer savings are seen not only in man hours spent on the search, but on fuel as well. This is also a win for the environment, since less fuel means less oil burned.