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Simulating the Great Lakes—past, present, and future.

GLFCFS Wave Height example

If you are thinking about going for a swim, but Lake Superior is cold when you dip your toe in, it’s usually safe to say that all the water nearby is also cold.

In the same way, scientific models take on-the-ground observations from platforms like buoys and weather towers and create simulations of lake conditions right now (nowcast), show what happened in the past (hindcast) and even predict the future (forecast).

Models give observers lake-wide snapshots to help them boat safely, understand shoreline erosion, know if an area is at high risk from a chemical spill, and more.

Created from complex equations and deep knowledge of the water system, models can be built to simulate:

  • Water currents and temperature
  • Wave height and direction
  • Chemical spills
  • And much more
This model shows currents flowing through the Straits of Mackinac. See the NOAA Lake Michigan-Huron Operational Forecasting System on the Data Portal (see more)
beach icon

Plan Beach Trips

by checking air temperature and wind or wave conditions

fishing icon

Select a Perfect Fishing Spot

based on temperature predictions

safety icon

Stay Safe

using warnings from the National Weather Service

GLOFS Current model visualization

Great Lakes Operational Forecast System

Main parameters: Water currents, temperature, levels, and more.
Operator: NOAA National Ocean Service

Data visualization of the Huron Erie Corridor Oil Spill Model

Huron-Erie Connecting Waterways Forecasting System

Main parameters: Particle travel times
Operator: Michigan Tech Research Institute