Seal Point Park, an auditorium for the Bay's beauty, was planned so well by the City of San Mateo that it (and neighboring Ryder Park) has become a magnificent montage of multi-purpose use. Generations of birds and wildlife enjoy residency; visiting geese approve its accommodations, and those of us who endure exercise appreciate its aesthetic caffeine. Native vegetation and natural habitat surround the pathways. The dog park is the canine equivalent of "Linked In", and countless birthday parties and picnics are held at Ryder Park's children's playground.
But the talented and careful planning that seamlessly wove this natural and man-made tapestry also reminds us that our quality of life is dependent on research, science and infrastructure. The parks share their space with powerful electrical transmission towers serviced by helicopters using adjacent land. Across the street is a wastewater treatment plant. Many of us also like to watch the planes on approach to San Francisco International. Seal Point has a popular podium where visitors can listen to recordings from the air traffic control tower.
Now, Seal Point is the home to research being conducted by the U.S. Department of Transportation's John A. Volpe National Transportation Systems Center in Cambridge, MA. According to Dr. Mark Mandler, Chief Knowledge Officer from the Center, a wind measurement device called the WindTracer is "helping to quantify the performance of the current state-of-the art mesoscale weather forecast model developed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in a complex environment such as that represented by the San Francisco International Airport (SFO)." He explained that the LIDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) device is equivalent to Doppler Radar except that it operates at optical wavelengths rather than radio wavelengths to measure wind velocity. Wind measurement devices of this type are found at multiple airports domestically and internationally, including Las Vegas and New York's Kennedy.
This is exciting stuff. Seal Point Park's contribution to scientific research will provide even more detailed information on weather phenomenon. As Dr. Mandler commented, this project has the potential to decrease "the number and frequency of airport delays associated with weather. SFO airport represents the ideal test bed for this study."
In this era of rigid thinking and minute specialization we have lost the ability to appreciate the whole wonderful pageant and panorama of what it takes to create a thriving and progressive quality of life. Seal Point and Ryder Parks are holistic examples of what we should all require - balanced appreciation of all disciplines to collaborate and contribute.
Note: The WindTracer is a registered trademark of Lockheed Martin who developed and produced the technology.