Factors that drive the patterns of fog along the coast include synoptic weather patterns, ocean upwelling, topography, aerosol-cloud dynamics, and differences in temperature between inland valleys and the littoral ocean areas. Estimating the distribution, frequency and characteristics of coastal fog and evaluating the resulting ecosystem responses require a diverse array of measurements and models that link processes at multiple scales.
The project leverages results from existing research projects, such as long-term fog climatology based on surface land and buoy observations (University of Washington), and California fog climatology derived from 11 years of Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES) data (Cooperative Institute for Research in the Atmosphere (CIRA) at Colorado State University in Ft. Collins). There are numerous other collaborators from academia (such as several University of California oceanographic and atmospheric science departments) and government agencies (U. S. Geological Survey, National Weather Service, NASA, and Environment Canada).
During the summer of 2012, a pilot project deployed sensors on loan from Environment Canada to augment existing instruments at Bodega Bay, California and Pepperwood Preserve in Sonoma County to gather important data sets on mesoscale and microphysical variables (fog liquid water content, surface wind, visibility, temperature, etc.) that will be used to better describe the characteristics of coastal fog. Sample transects for significant fog days will be shown, along with examples of possible graphic products for end users.