High-Tech Tide Gauge to be Installed at Chatham Fish Pier

CHATHAM – Federal officials are looking to install a new state-of-the-art tide gauge at the Chatham Fish Pier.

The device will provide real-time data about tides to help boaters navigate the changing area, along with the study of rising sea levels.

The permanent upgraded system and weather station will replace a temporary gauge that was installed at the pier in 2009.

“They were planning to remove it and then the town, the National Seashore, the National Weather Service and many groups tied to encourage NOAA to put in a permanent tide gauge,” said Ted Keon, Chatham’s Coastal Resources Manager.

Partial funding for the new gauge is being provided by the Cape Cod National Seashore.

The new gauge will be more similar to others installed by NOAA throughout the nation. It will become a partner station of NOAA’s National Water Level Observation Network, which includes 210 stations.

“There’s been a lot of interest in the temporary gauge and there’s going to be, I expect, similar interest in the long-term gauge,” Keon said.

The sea level data collected could help the town plan major infrastructure changes as levels rise in the future.

The data will also be used in the short-term.

“It’ll also more immediately help the local community in predicting much more accurately the high and low tides in Chatham Harbor that change significantly with the inlets,” said Stuart Smith, the town’s harbormaster. “Predicting inside of the harbor because of all these new inlets, and the original inlet, is difficult because we didn’t have enough local data to really get a good handle on that.”

The new station will collect weather data currently not available with the temporary gauge.

“It’ll have some battery backups,” Smith said. “It’ll be able to withstand severe storms such as hurricanes.”

Smith said it has been a challenge to find a location for the new station at the fish pier to allow the town and federal officials collect the data needed, along with not interfering with offloading operations.

According to Keon, a federal team was expected to survey the area this week.

“They are going to be putting in benchmarks which are survey marks in order to make sure that the elevations they are reading are accurately correlated to the land surface,” Keon said.

The gauge is expected to be installed in the fall.

Data that is collected by the gauge will be available for viewing at NOAA’s website, which also can be done with the current gauge.

By BRIAN MERCHANT, CapeCod.com NewsCenter

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