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California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo
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COCMP - Coastal Ocean Currents Monitoring Program

December 2004- March 2009

Project Summary:

Researchers here at California Polytechnic State University (Cal Poly) will be mapping the ocean surface currents off the coast of central California using high-frequency (HF) radar.  These surface current maps will provide hourly measurements of the speed and direction of the ocean waters.  Using “standard” range CODAR SeaSondes, the surface currents will be measured out to around 40 km offshore with a resolution of approximately 2 km.  “Long-range” SeaSondes will map the surface currents out to around 150 km offshore in approximately 6 km resolution.

  data figure

Distribution of human impacts along the California coast. Left panel shows population distribution around coastal watershed drainages and the location of state permitted wastewater ocean discharges. The right panel shows the distribution/ volume of oilspills, the coastal biological index and areas of special biological significance. Current maps from HF radar stations will provide valuable information for management of sensitive coastal areas, especially when threatened by point source pollution such as oil spills, and wastewater overflows.


The mapping of ocean surface currents here at Cal Poly is part of a larger state-wide effort, the Coastal Ocean Currents Monitoring Program (COCMP) which itself is part of a nationwide effort to form the Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS).  Among the goals of these programs is the mapping of the surface currents in the ocean waters that form the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) along the coast of the United States.

Measurements of ocean surface currents off the coast of central California made here at Cal Poly will be used to produce tools that benefit both academia and the public.  It is the intent of this program to produce data products that aid water quality, fisheries management, maritime navigation, and search and rescue.

People Involved:

  • Dr. Mark Moline, Principal Investigator
  • Brian Zelenke, Senior Research Associate
  • Daniel Elmore, Research Assistant


Eric Terrill Scripps Institue of Oceanography
Toby Garfield RTC
Other COCMP Parter Institutions COCMP

Data Link:

Measurements of ocean surface currents off the central California coast will be available from this website once the CODAR SeaSonde® systems are installed (tentatively mid-2006).  Please see the following COCMP partner sites for measurements of surface currents in the following regions:

Related Information:


Research Funded by:

Coastal Conservancy