The long-wavelength reach of radar may soon provide better “eyes” for what our regional waves are up to.

This week, the city of Satellite Beach and the Indian River County Commission both approved small arrays of high-frequency, low-powered radar systems at one of their popular public beaches, where people love unencumbered views and endangered sea turtles tend to nest.

Federal forecasters and the local scientist leading the effort assure it will improve search-and-rescue, red tide, rip current and erosion predictions, as well as fill a crucial gap in ocean surface radar coverage that’s often left us all in the oceanic dark.

“Long-term collection of the data could be useful for people who do coastal planning for the county,” said Steven Lazarus, professor of ocean engineering and marine sciences at Florida Institute of Technology. “I can imagine folks doing work in the sea turtle world as well.”

Two new radar systems proposed by Florida Institute of Technology will help scientists and others "see" what's going on about 60 kilometers offshore of the Space Coast, which has long been a blind spot for ocean surface wind and current information.

The proposed radar system in Satellite Beach would go at Hightower Beach Park, backscattering in sync with another at Treasure Shores Park in Indian River County. Two radars are needed to get a clear picture of what’s going on out there along the distant ocean’s distance. The radars have a 60-kilometer range.

There won’t be any domes, just radar antennas on 7-foot-tall, thin poles, usually painted to blend in. 

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