Great Lakes Observing & Forecasting Systems

Great Lakes CoastWatch Research Assistant for NOAA CoastWatch Program Element

Overview and Objectives

To address critical coastal environmental problems, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service (NESDIS) has established the NOAA Ocean Remote Sensing (NSORS) Program. Within NSORS, CoastWatch is a NOAA-wide program designed to provide a rapid supply of up-to-date, coordinated, environmental (remotely sensed, chemical, biological, and physical) information to support Federal, state, and local decision makers and researchers, who are responsible for managing the Nation’s living marine resources and ecosystems. NOAA CoastWatch focuses on specific regional priorities, such as unusual environmental events (e.g., harmful algal blooms), accumulating algal biomass, mapping wetland change (e.g., change detection), and mapping ice cover/ice thickness (e.g., hazard mitigation).

This project focuses on research and applications development utilizing CoastWatch imagery and imagery from new satellite sensors such as synthetic aperture radar (SAR) for ice classification and mapping and ocean color sensors such as the Sea Viewing Wide Field-of-View Sensor (SeaWiFS), MODIS, and VIIRS for ocean color (chlorophyll) products. These products will enhance the CoastWatch Great Lakes product suite by developing regional products and applications for the Great Lakes, and will contribute to the operational responsibilities of sister agencies such as the U.S. Coast Guard and National Weather Service.

Regional products delivered in an untimely fashion or in an unusable format, whether to land or ship-based users, defeats the objectives and goals of the program. Therefore, the development of tools to effectively and efficiently deliver these products to regional users in near real-time and in a useable format is of great importance. This will foster additional research applications by regional data users employing the processed satellite data such as, detection and tracking of thermal fronts and analysis of circulation patterns and upwelling (fish recruitment studies) and modeling and forecasting Great Lakes parameters (Great Lakes Forecasting System).

The goal of the CoastWatch Great Lakes program is to develop and deliver environmental data and products for near real-time monitoring of the Great Lakes to support environmental science, modeling (forecasting), and decision making. One of the objectives of the continuing CoastWatch program is to provide access to near real-time and retrospective satellite observations and derived products of the Great Lakes for Federal, state, and local decision making and supporting research. Communications requirements and data distribution are accomplished electronically via the Internet (CoastWatch Great Lakes web site).

Additional (future) products include turbidity, ocean color (chlorophyll, DOC, SM), and ice mapping. Additional activities to be performed include participation in research on new algorithm development of the remotely sensed data, assist in development of project reports and scientific presentations, and provide the necessary computer system and software support to facilitate these activities and distribution of data and products through the Great Lakes CoastWatch website.


Liu, S. and Leshkevich, G. CoastWatch – Delivering Environmental Satellite and In Situ Data to the Great Lakes User Community, 59th Annual Conference on Great Lakes Research (IAGLR2016), Guelph, Ontario, June 6-10, 2016.


• Great Lakes CoastWatch website:

PrincipaI Investigator(s):
Tom Johengen (CILER)

NOAA Technical Lead(s):
George Leshkevich (NOAA-GLERL)