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GLIN==> Great Lakes Forecasting System

For Immediate Release
June 23, 2000
Dr. Keith Bedfor: 614/292-7338; bedford.1@osu.edu
Dana Stone: 614/292-4064; stone.2@osu.edu
Karen Ricker, 614/292-8949; ricker.15@osu.edu

Forecasting System Make Lake Erie Outings More Enjoyable

Heading to Lake Erie this Fourth of July weekend for some fishing and relaxation? Taking a pleasure trip to Kelleys Island on the family sailboat? Visiting the Great Lakes Forecasting System (GLFS) Web site (superior.eng.ohio-state.edu/main/noframes/about.html) before you leave home could make your holiday outing safer and more enjoyable.

GLFS, developed by researchers at The Ohio State University and the Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory, predicts weather and water conditions on Lake Erie and the other lakes 36 hours in advance. At the heart of GLFS are 19 numerical models that run on a supercomputer.

"We believe the two largest recreational users of the web site are the sport fishing and the yacht racing communities," said Keith Bedford, Ohio State professor and chair of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Geodetic Science. "For example, information about surface water temperature helps anglers find good fishing spots. Sailors also want to know about wind speeds before a yacht race."

Besides water temperature and wind speed, GLFS also predicts water level, as well as wind direction, for any location on Lake Erie, said Bedford, who has conducted research to improve GLFS. In addition, the forecasting system predicts wave height and direction and sediment concentration and distribution on Lake Erie. The "nowcasts" on the GLFS Web site provide much of the same information on current lake conditions.

"GLFS is a tool a prudent captain can use to have a safe trip on Lake Erie and the other lakes," said Dale Liebenthal, an Ohio Geological Survey researcher. "Since certain winds are better than others for fishing, the wind predictions can benefit anglers." Before lake weather turns bad, GLFS predicts where destructive storm surges could strike, providing people with time to protect their boats and other property from damage.

About 65 percent of those accessing the GLFS Web site seek information for commercial purposes, Bedford said. According to Liebenthal, these users include ship captains interested in knowing how much clearance their freighters have in harbors and shipping channels. With this information, they can determine how much iron ore, grain or other cargo their vessels can carry without running aground.

Electric utility companies that operate water withdrawal systems at power plants and government organizations that monitor pollutant discharges into the Great Lakes also find GLFS information valuable.For example, water temperature, wind speed and other aspects of Lake Erie's physical status are important to the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency's efforts to monitor water quality, Bedford said. "The data assists the EPA in finding the best places on the lake to collect water samples."

Over the past 10 years the Great Lakes Forecasting System has received funding from 25 different sources. The original funding for this project came from Cary Research, Inc., NASA Center for the Commercialization of Space, and the Ohio Sea Grant College Program.

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Information written by Dana Stone, Ohio State University, College of Engineering Communications.
Submitted to GLIN by Karen Ricker, Ohio Sea Grant College Program
Karen T. Ricker
Assistant Director and Communications Coordinator
Ohio Sea Grant College Program
The Ohio State University
1541 Research Center
1314 Kinnear Road
Columbus, Ohio 43212-1194
tel: (614)292-8949; fax: (614)292-4364; email: ricker.15@osu.edu
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