Observed in water bodies like bays, gulfs, and lakes, Meteotsunamis are the storm-driven waves that partially resemble the tsunamis that generate earthquakes. Great Lakes scientists have started working on an experimental network of air-pressure sensors to detect the threatening eteotsunamis.

The project is being funded by the University of CIGLR (Cooperative Institute for Great Lakes Research), which is financially supported by NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration).

The network will cover the regions around lakes Michigan and Erie. It involves 29 sensors looking for abrupt air-pressure changes, which are indications of Meteotsunami formations. The entire network has been made with low-cost factor comprising of new sensors as well as existing instruments that are installed at shoreline weather stations and on research buoys.

Meteotsunami WavesNow, Meteotsunamis are not as destructive as the seismic tsunamis, but large Meteotsunamis have a history of causing property damage, injuries, and even deaths. About 100 Meteotsunamis occur per year on the Great Lakes. Most of these are usually around one foot high or even less. Most, not all!

Scientists have been in efforts to develop a warning system for the natural calamity, but have so far lacked in real-time high-frequency data. The latest project addresses this challenge, with each of the 29 sensors taking one air-pressure measurement per minute.

Another destructive meteotsunami could happen on the Great Lakes tomorrow, and we’re not ready for it. These rapid-response funds from CIGLR will allow us to move quickly to get the kind of observations needed to alert the public about this frequently overlooked hazard. – Ed Verhamme, the project’s lead researcher

The mentioned rapid-response funding amounts to $11,900. It has been invested upon modifications on computer programs on buoys and the creation of the data management system that is where the sensors report the data.