HF Radar

CeNCOOS maintains a network of over 25 HF Radar stations from the Big Sur Coast up to northern California and extending into San Francisco Bay.

HF Radar stations and general coverage areas

HFR Network Operations

Site Name Longitude Latitude Operator Date Deployed
Trinidad Head -124.15824 41.07339 UC Davis 2007
Samoa -124.218772 40.768778 UC Davis Awaiting Deployment
Shelter Cove -124.07887 40.3367 UC Davis 2006
Fort Bragg -123.81489 39.4398 UC Davis 2007
Point Arena -123.73556 39.94 UC Davis 2006
Gerstle Cove -123.33155 38.56718 UC Davis 2001
Bodega Marine Lab -123.0725 38.319483 UC Davis 2002
Bodega Marine Lab -123.072467 38.317317 UC Davis 2007
Point Reyes -122.98913 380715 UC Davis 2001
Slide Ranch -122.5976 37.8725 CODAR 2007
Point Bonita Fog Station -122.5298 37.8155 CODAR 2006
Sausalito Marin Sanitary District -122.4771 37.8438 CODAR 2005
Romberg Tiburon Center -122.4461 37.8899 CODAR 2005
Angel Island, Point Blunt -122.4192 37.8533 CODAR 2005
San Francisco Exploratorium -122.3971 37.8029 CODAR 2011
Crissy Field -122.466 37.8064 CODAR 2006
Fort Funston -122.5013 37.7123 CODAR 2006
Montera Water and Sanitation -122.519217 37.5337167 CODAR 2006
Pillar Point -122.4995 37.49716667 CODAR 2007
Big Creek Lumber -122.274167 37.08945 CODAR 2013
Santa Cruz -122.0661 36.9492167 CODAR 2004
Moss Landing -121.78792 36.803667 CODAR 1999
Naval Postgraduate School -121.872 36.6032333 CODAR 1996
Point Pinos -121.9356 36.6367833 CODAR 2006
Granite Canyon -121.922167 36.43945 CODAR 2003
Point Sur -121.8883 36.303933 CODAR 2004

How it works

We measure ocean currents by emitting radio waves from shore-based transmitting antennas that travel along the ocean’s surface. The radio waves are scattered by the rough surface of the ocean (ocean waves) and part of the scattered energy returns like an echo to a receiving antenna.

The received echoes contain information about the range, direction, and speed of the current in relation to the antenna location. Combining this information from two or more antennas allows us to construct surface maps of current speed and direction.

Radio Frequencies

Although the technology we use to measure ocean currents is typically called “High Frequency Radar” of “HF Radar“, a more accurate name is “HF Radio“. Ocean current transmitting antennas operate at similar frequencies to broadcast radio and TV, but at much lower power levels (0.1% or less). The transmitted energy, comparable to the power of a household light bulb, is harmless to humans and animals.

CeNCOOS HF Radar Program Funding and History

The California high-frequency radar (HFR) network was established in 2002 by the Coastal Ocean Currents Monitoring Program (COCMP) to monitor coastal ocean surface currents in real-time and provide surface current forecasting capabilities as mandated by state funding propositions. CeNCOOS worked with COCMP to expand the HFR network in the region, and received funds for operating costs and began creating and distributing products to address stakeholder needs. California State funding for the program ended after 2010.

Current operational funding comes from solely NOAA, with a portion of our overall grant directed specifically to operating HF Radar stations. This funding covers operations and maintenance for a subset of our original HF Radar stations. These priority stations are chosen at the federal level and are selected by the economic/commercial importance of surface current measurements. leaving CeNCOOS and SCCOOS funding (estimated at 1/3 of the funds needed) to try to maintain the HFR network. View a 2009 PDF booklet of HF Radar uses and station locations produced by CeNCOOS, SCCOOS and COCMP.

HF Radar Data Management

The HFRadar Network (HFRNet) was established to handle the data delivery of near real-time surface current data from HF Radar stations across the US. Data from the distributed national network of HF Radars is sent to the Coastal Observing Research and Development Center (CORDC), where it is then processed and served publicly in near real-time. HFRNet provides reliable data telemetry, archiving, and integrated processing for a growing list of near real-time products in a scaleable manner for a growing user community supported by the Integrated Ocean Observing System. For more information vistit the CORDC website.

currents off Bodega Bay
The Bodega Marine Laboratory (BML) maintains a regionally derived surface current product. This product can be accessed here: Bodega Currents
Data Portal Links HF Radar Hourly Surface Currents (2km) For Northern CA - 2 km coverage area ends @ Bodega
The Bodega Marine laboratory (BML) creates a wave product using HF Radar sensed waves. This product may be found here: