SALVO, N.C. — A four-year project examining currents flowing off the Outer Banks could help with issues that include search and rescue, why Shelly Island formed this year off Hatteras Island and the best time for fishing.

The Virginian-Pilot of Norfolk, Virginia reports the University of Georgia Skidaway Institute of Oceanography is working on the project, which studies the relationship between the continental shelf and deep ocean.

The knowledge gathered off the Outer Banks will apply worldwide, team leader Dana Savidge said.

“We have everything in a relatively small area that we could wonder about,” said Savidge, who’s also an associate professor at Skidaway Institute.

The National Science Foundation awarded a $5 million grant to fund the effort called Processes driving Exchange At Cape Hatteras, or PEACH, Skidaway spokesman Michael Sullivan said. Preliminary work began last year.

Researchers chose Hatteras Island because two deep-ocean currents collide there, Savidge said. The warm Gulf Stream flows from the south before meeting the Slope Sea Gyre coming from the north.

The team is using a variety of instruments to transmit and receive electronic signals that measure surface and deep currents, wave action, salinity, winds and temperature, among other things.

Research technician Gabe Matthias regularly monitors shore-based radar systems, such as the one in Salvo and three others in Buxton, Frisco and Ocracoke. Eight antennas at each site transmit signals, and eight others receive them. The computer in the small trailer records and plots an enormous amount of data each day, Matthias said.

Underwater gliders that look like small torpedoes will cruise the ocean for weeks at a time collecting information. Boats will motor along the coast, recording ocean movements.


Information from: The Virginian-Pilot, http://pilotonline.com

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