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NOS News Briefs

This feed provides weekly news briefs from NOAA's National Ocean Service.

Published: Thu, 19 Apr 2018 13:13:13 -0400

Last Build Date: Thu, 19 Apr 2018 13:13:13 -0400


Kid-Friendly Tool Demonstrates Role Estuaries Play in Water Filtration

Thu, 19 Apr 2018 13:13:12 -0400

Helping students and teachers understand the valuable role estuaries play in our daily lives is an important component of the National Estuarine Research Reserve System's mission. OCM created a new animation, "Estuaries: Nature's Water Filters," to engage and educate kids by demonstrating, in a fun way, how estuaries clean water as it flows from land to sea. The animation also features an interactive pollution game, which helps students understand what can cause decreased water quality and how their actions impact the health of estuaries. The reserve education coordinators will use this animation as a supplement to lessons in the Estuaries 101 curriculum, in presentations, and in exhibits.

Guam Leaders and Locals Unite in Coral Conservation

Thu, 19 Apr 2018 13:12:52 -0400

During this third International Year of the Reef, Guam officials recently also declared it the Guam Year of the Reef, pledging additional support for marine conservation in recognition of the countless ways reefs are critical to the island and its citizens. Tourism accounts for 60 percent of this tropical U.S. territory's business revenue, and at least $56 million pours into Guam's economy annually from scuba diving—all of which would be lost without corals. The year-long celebration, which will feature beach cleanups, festivals, and multiple training and educational events, aims to bring the importance of coral reefs to the forefront of leaders' and locals' minds. NOAA's CRCP was a founding member of the Year of the Reef Initiative.

NOAA Broadcasts Live Exploration of Deep-sea Habitats in Gulf of Mexico

Thu, 19 Apr 2018 13:12:31 -0400

Last week, scientists began a 23-day mission aboard NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer to collect baseline information on poorly understood deep-sea habitats in the Gulf of Mexico. The team is collecting data on areas identified by ocean management and scientific communities as priority exploration areas. Most of the gulf's deep waters are unexplored, but past explorations revealed a variety of habitats, including deep-sea coral gardens, submarine canyons, gas and oil seeps, mud volcanoes, and submerged cultural heritage sites. The telepresence-enabled expedition uses remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) to survey deepwater areas and broadcast high-definition video in real-time over the internet. NCCOS staff are co-leading the expedition's science activities and are providing live commentary of all ROV dives, scheduled to occur daily from April 12 to May 2. Follow the expedition by watching the live video feeds or visiting the expedition's website.

CO-OPS Field Team Repairs Visibility Sensor After Ship Strike

Thu, 19 Apr 2018 13:12:09 -0400

The Center for Operational Oceanographic Products and Service's Gulf Coast Field Team repaired the Pinto Island visibility station in Mobile Bay, part of the Mobile, Alabama Physical Oceanographic Real Time System (PORTS®). The team speedily installed a new bulkhead mount with minimal data interruption. The new mount is built to better withstand future ship strikes. PORTS like the one in Mobile help make maritime transportation safer and more efficient by integrating real-time environmental data (water levels, tides, currents, waves, salinity, bridge air gap) and meteorological parameters (winds, atmospheric pressure, air and water temperatures) with forecasts and other geospatial information, tailoring the output to the needs of local communities.

Streamlining Information Sharing during Oil Spills

Fri, 06 Apr 2018 08:58:00 -0400

The Office of Response and Restoration's ERMA® and ResponseLink developers are integrating the two systems in anticipation of a potential oil spill or other sudden pollution event. The password-protected ResponseLink website is an internal site developed by OR&R to share information during pollution response operations within NOAA and between federal, state, and local partners. ERMA, also developed by OR&R, is an online mapping tool that provides environmental resource managers, spill response teams, and natural resource damage assessment personnel with spatial data and analyses to inform decision making.

Cyclone Damages Corals in American Samoa

Fri, 06 Apr 2018 08:57:12 -0400

An assessment of damage wrought by Category 2 Cyclone Gita in the National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa showed that Fagatele Bay sustained damage mostly to table and branching Acropora corals, which are susceptible to large wave action and marine debris propelled by cyclone-induced waves. The eastern part of Fagatele Bay felt the worst effects, with areas showing an estimated 20 percent damage to coral colonies. Other coral colonies sustained little to no damage.

Fast Chart Update for a Busy Florida Port

Fri, 06 Apr 2018 08:56:40 -0400

NOAA Coast Survey used its NOAA ENC® (Electronic Navigational Charts) system to quickly update essential chart information to accurately reflect the 225-foot expansion of a slip (the portion of a pier where a boat is berthed or moored) in Port Everglades, FL. Port Everglades is one of the top three cruise ports in the world and every slip there is heavily used. OCS used discrete shoreline snippets of the target areas, provided by NGS’s Remote Sensing Division, to ensure a quick turnaround of the corrected charts, which OCS made readily available to the port.

Living Shorelines Help Clams Thrive in Chesapeake Bay

Fri, 06 Apr 2018 08:56:12 -0400

A National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science-funded study tracking the effects of living shoreline construction in the Chesapeake Bay showed that this approach increased the number and size of clams in the areas studied within two years. Human population growth and sea-level rise increase the need to protect coastal property from shoreline erosion. Living shorelines make use of plants and natural materials, instead of retaining walls, to stabilize marshland, but while they are increasingly popular with homeowners, their effects are not well understood. Studies like this one help improve coastal and resource management decision making.

Collaborating on West Coast Benthic Habitat Efforts

Fri, 30 Mar 2018 08:11:31 -0400

Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary and other national marine sanctuaries work with the broader scientific community to ensure that the most effective and rigorous science is utilized to address resource needs. A new collaborative effort between NOAA, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, U.S. Geological Survey, Monterey Bay Research Institute, and the Expanding Pacific Research and Exploration of Submerged Systems (EXPRESS) focuses on shared interests and needs for benthic habitat studies along the West Coast. The partners overlap in their focus of supporting the sustainable use of living marine resources while assessing and managing coastal hazards and offshore energy. Collaborative efforts are essential to supporting the competing needs of ocean resources and the communities that depend on them.

'CZMA 101' Educates New Coastal Program Managers

Fri, 30 Mar 2018 08:11:04 -0400

New Office for Coastal Management staff members often encounter a steep learning curve, particularly when it comes to understanding Coastal Zone Management Act (CZMA) funding. OCM’s Coastal Zone Management Act 101 training provides new employees with resources and information by helping them understand CZMA funding and preparing them to manage cooperative agreements. The recent addition of a third training module, “Funding and Cooperative Agreements,” includes examples of funded projects, interactive games and quizzes, quick references, checklists, and a worksheet.

NOAA Co-hosts Sixth International Marine Debris Conference

Fri, 30 Mar 2018 08:10:02 -0400

NOAA’s Marine Debris Program and the United Nations Environment Programme co-hosted the Sixth International Marine Debris Conference in San Diego. The event brought together more than 700 participants from over 50 countries to assess progress made since the last conference , and to strategize ways to minimize the impacts of marine debris going forward. Conference participants attended several plenary sessions and panels, and more than 70 technical sessions featuring 400 oral presentations and 180 posters. Attendees also contributed to Zero Waste initiatives (a philosophy that encourages the redesign of resource life cycles so that all products are reused) throughout the event. As a result, the conference prevented the use of more than 3,000 plastic water bottles, diverted nearly four tons of waste from a landfill, and composted nearly 3.5 tons of food waste.

NGS and Canadian Counterparts Foster LIDAR Integration

Fri, 30 Mar 2018 08:09:15 -0400

Over the last decade, LIDAR sensor enhancements increased the use of bathymetric LIDAR in a variety of applications. As a result, the quantity of bathymetric LIDAR data increased substantially. However, fully integrating LIDAR data into products meeting standard accuracy requirements remains a significant challenge. At the 2018 Joint Canadian Hydrographic and National Surveyors‘ Conference in Victoria, British Columbia, National Geodetic Survey and the Canadian Hydrographic Service (CHS) presented an approach for LIDAR data users to integrate their bathymetric data. CHS and NGS personnel are planning a future meeting to further discuss ways to address current LIDAR challenges.

Marine Protected Areas Featured in U.S. Coast Guard Journal

Wed, 28 Mar 2018 08:48:05 -0400

The Spring 2018 issue of the U.S. Coast Guard (USGC) journal Proceedings showcased the benefits, challenges, and opportunities of marine protected areas (MPAs). Contributors discussed various aspects of MPAs, including national marine sanctuaries and marine national monuments, as well as the ins and outs of monitoring human use of these areas and enforcing federal laws. The issue featured NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries and MPA Center, among others. The journal has a diverse audience that includes more than 30,000 members of the maritime industry, scientists, and NGOs.

Four Algal Toxins Found in San Francisco Bay Mussels

Wed, 28 Mar 2018 08:47:43 -0400

According to a NOAA-funded project published in the journal Harmful Algae, 99 percent of mussels that University of California-Santa Cruz researchers collected in San Francisco Bay were contaminated with at least one algal toxin, and 37 percent contained four. Contaminated mussels pose a serious health threat to people and animals who eat them. Although San Francisco Bay lacks commercial shellfish operations, people still harvest and eat mussels from the Bay. While commercially harvested shellfish are generally safe because they undergo regular testing, two of the toxins found in the mussels from San Francisco Bay are not routinely monitored in California shellfish.

State Plane Coordinate System Report and Training Materials

Wed, 28 Mar 2018 08:47:14 -0400

The State Plane Coordinate System (SPCS) is a system of large-scale map projections created in the 1930s to support surveying, engineering, and mapping activities throughout the U.S. and its territories. As part of its modernization of the National Spatial Reference System in 2022, NGS will adopt a new SPCS. To aid in the transition, NGS published a special report, The State Plane Coordinate System: History, Policy, and Future Directions (PDF), that provides context for SPCS 2022. Additionally, NGS created a collection of web pages to help users learn how the SPCS will change in 2022 and how to use it. Finally, NGS launched a series of educational webinars to inform stakeholders of the reference system changes and how they can get information when using the SPCS in the future.

Navigation Response Team 5 Locates Sunken Vessel off Maine Coast

Wed, 28 Mar 2018 08:46:51 -0400

NOAA Coast Survey's Navigation Response Team (NRT) 5 responded to a request from the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) to locate a tugboat, the T/V Captain Mackintire, which recently sank off the coast of Maine. The USCG requested assistance due to the potential environmental hazard posed by an unknown amount of fuel remaining on the tugboat. With hazardous weather conditions brought by the nor’easter headed toward the Maine coast, NRT 5 immediately began survey operations. Within 15 minutes, the team located the tugboat.

Lower Ship Speeds Protect Whales and Habitat in California Sanctuaries

Mon, 19 Mar 2018 11:19:11 -0400

The Port of Los Angeles recently recognized 11 shipping companies that voluntarily reduced ship speeds within and near national marine sanctuaries in California. Through non-regulatory cooperation between agencies and industry, vessels slowed to 12 knots or less during 143 trips through coastal channels. The voluntary incentive program, which ran from July 1–November 15, 2017, improved air quality—cutting more than 80 tons of smog-forming emissions—reduced ocean noise, and protected whales from lethal ship strikes.

West Coast Managers Gain Critical Planning Skills

Mon, 19 Mar 2018 11:18:50 -0400

Because the U.S. West Coast faces rising seas and tsunami threats, coastal managers in the region benefit from flood mapping and planning training. To address this, NOAA's Office for Coastal Management led a series of training sessions at national estuarine research reserves in California, Washington, and Oregon. Through hands-on exercises and lectures, course participants learned how to use elevation and tidal data to visualize storm surge, high tide flooding, sea level rise, and tsunami scenarios, allowing them to prepare for a host of potential impacts in their regions.

International Water Level Network

Mon, 19 Mar 2018 11:18:17 -0400

As a global leader in water level observations, NOAA's tides and currents office recently shared its technical expertise with the West African water level network MARINEMET. The World Meteorological Organization manages MARINEMET, which provides a variety of water level and meteorological sensors to 10 field stations in four African nations. The network recently experienced poor performance due to issues related to field system maintenance, sensor integration, field power, and real-time telemetry, among other challenges. CO-OPS shared several recommendations for addressing the network’s issues.

Documenting Conditions in Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary

Mon, 19 Mar 2018 11:17:39 -0400

The Office of Response and Restoration and the NOAA Fisheries Restoration Center assisted ONMS in conducting intertidal surveys at Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary off the coast of San Francisco. The survey team established new long-term monitoring stations to document the ecological abundance and health of marine algae, sea grasses, and intertidal animals such as mussels, sea anemones, and sea stars. While the surveys are coordinated with existing coastal monitoring efforts, the sanctuary is implementing new protocols and additional stations to identify and catalog shoreline resources for several purposes, including determining baseline conditions in the event of an oil spill.

A New Format for Electronic Navigational Charts

Fri, 09 Mar 2018 09:27:21 -0500

Coast Survey recently released its 1:12,000 electronic navigational chart (NOAA ENC®) of Massachusetts’s Merrimack River in the Raster Navigational Chart Tile Service format. The tile service renders a traditional depiction of the nautical chart for use with GPS-enabled electronic chart systems or other “chart plotter” display systems to provide real-time vessel positioning for recreational mariners. This version of the Merrimack River chart retains the look of a NOAA paper chart but is derived from the ENC charting database, giving users the opportunity to use ENC-only data with a traditional NOAA chart feel. The chart is included in single and quilted chart tile sets in both online and offline versions. This is the first time a navigational chart created solely as an ENC product is included in the tile service, though NOAA intends to incorporate all future charts that are produced only as ENCs into the service.

Acoustic Monitoring Reveals Hurricane Impact on Puerto Rico Reefs

Fri, 09 Mar 2018 09:26:40 -0500

Passive listening devices called hydrophones placed on Puerto Rico’s coral reefs recorded how marine life was disturbed during Hurricane Maria. The hydrophones recorded the “soundscape” before, during, and after the September 2017 Category 4 hurricane, revealing a decrease in fish choruses and snapping shrimp activity during and in the days following the storm. NCCOS scientists and partners installed the hydrophones at three sites off Puerto Rico’s southwest coast in early 2017 to demonstrate how sound can be used to understand environmental disturbances and assess ecosystem health. The use of this low-cost technology could help NOAA expand its capacity for long-term environmental monitoring and assessment. The researchers gave a presentation on their findings at the recent 2018 Ocean Sciences Meeting in Portland, OR.

Concluding Hurricane Maria Response in U.S. Virgin Islands

Fri, 09 Mar 2018 09:26:05 -0500

Office of Response and Restoration personnel salvaged the last marine vessel from the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI), concluding operations for Hurricane Maria response there. Responders conducted pollution mitigation, displaced vessel salvage, and orphan container recovery operations across nearshore waters and shorelines of St. Thomas, St. John, and St. Croix. The response addressed pollution mitigation for, and the salvage or recovery of, 473 displaced vessels and 3,977 orphaned containers, propane cylinders, marine batteries, and other hazardous materials. OR&R and the NOAA Fisheries Restoration Center also relocated approximately 400 coral colonies as part of the response (the effort did not impact endangered sea turtles or other endangered species). In total, NOAA contributed more than 2,000 hours of collective on-scene support.

Symposium on 2016 Flower Garden Banks Mortality Event

Fri, 09 Mar 2018 09:25:27 -0500

Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary, in partnership with U.S. IOOS and the Gulf of Mexico Coastal Ocean Observing System, hosted a symposium in Galveston, TX, to further investigate the 2016 mortality event that occurred at East Flower Garden Bank. The event killed corals, sponges, crustaceans, mollusks, echinoderms, and other invertebrates in a localized area of the bank. Scientists who first responded to the event, and who represent a wide range of disciplines, attended the gathering. Principal investigators gave presentations on their hypotheses regarding the causes of the mortality event and on response activities. The symposium reinforced the need for enhanced and sustained observations in and around the sanctuary to support forecasting, analysis, and mitigation of future events. NOAA’s Deep Sea Coral Research and Technology Program helped facilitate the event, and NOS helped fund it.

Streamlining Nautical Chart Updates of USACE Projects

Thu, 01 Mar 2018 13:05:09 -0500

Up-to-date nautical charts are essential for providing mariners with accurate water depths and precise locations of structures at sea. One of the important ways that NOAA receives chart updates is through voluntary reporting of projects permitted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE). To improve project status reporting, Coast Survey updated the Permit/Public Notice and Artificial Reef/Aquaculture forms. Modernized with semi-automated reset, attach, submit, and save buttons, fillable fields, and featuring the latest PDF viewer/editor software, the revised forms clarify the important information necessary to keep charts accurately updated.

National Geodetic Survey Launches its Latest Online Educational Video

Thu, 01 Mar 2018 13:04:35 -0500

NGS recently published its latest educational video geared toward surveying, mapping, and remote sensing professionals. The short video, Geodetic Control in Land Surveying: Active vs. Passive, is an example of NGS’s commitment to providing educational resources pertaining to the National Spatial Reference System, as well as information about other products and services. NGS, in partnership with The COMET® Program—a worldwide leader in support of education and training for the environmental sciences—has developed a library of videos on geodesy and mapping topics, all of which are available to view or download.

Sanctuaries Web Portal Reaches Out to Spanish-Speaking Community

Thu, 01 Mar 2018 13:03:57 -0500

ONMS launched a Spanish-language web portal called ¡Bienvenidos a los Santuarios Marinos Nacionales! (“Welcome to the National Marine Sanctuary System!”), expanding opportunities for engagement to a new audience that makes important economic contributions to fisheries and the ocean economy. Spanish is a predominant language in many communities, businesses, and collaborating agencies that operate and recreate in national marine sanctuaries. The portal contains translated information about NOAA's national marine sanctuary system, programs, partners, and marine conservation and education activities, as well as information about the National Marine Protected Areas Center.

Office for Coastal Management Recognized with LIDAR Leader Award

Thu, 01 Mar 2018 13:01:39 -0500

The International LIDAR Mapping Forum, a network of industry experts, awarded OCM second place in the Outstanding Team Achievement category of its LIDAR Leader Awards, recognizing OCM as being at the forefront of LIDAR distribution and a leader in the field. OCM spearheaded LIDAR data distribution from the earliest days of the technology, providing an inventory of collections and distributing the data in an efficient, user-friendly way. Today, OCM works to make data from a host of agencies and groups freely and publicly available through the Digital Coast, which maximizes the value of LIDAR collections and the cost-effectiveness of the technology.

Sanctuaries Celebrate African Americans’ Contributions to Maritime Culture

Thu, 22 Feb 2018 15:13:25 -0500

ONMS launched a story map celebrating the contributions that African Americans have made to the ocean, maritime traditions, and communities. The map shares stories of indomitable individuals, extraordinary acts of courage, and enduring traditions that represent part of the larger African American maritime tradition that helped build and shape the nation. The story map is the first of ONMS’s Heritage Months 2018 projects, a year-long program to honor the nation’s diverse maritime communities, cultures, and voices. Each of seven recognized heritage months will feature special online content and social media. ONMS also launched the new Heritage of the Blue website, home to multicultural content such as feature articles, story maps, staff profiles, and videos.

Training Modules Foster Improved Fisheries Governance in the Philippines

Thu, 22 Feb 2018 15:12:53 -0500

The Philippines face degraded ocean resources and illegal fishing, both of which are connected to the area’s equally challenging socioeconomics. The Ecosystems Approach to Fisheries Management balances environmental and socioeconomic concerns through improved fisheries governance. With help from CRCP, the Philippines Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources introduced online training modules to support planning and implementation of the ecosystems approach to fisheries governance. Through the training, an array of stakeholders, including local government officials and fishing communities, can discover the benefits of a holistic approach to fisheries management, balancing ecological health and human well-being through good governance.

New Storm Surge and Tide Forecast System for Micronesia

Thu, 22 Feb 2018 15:11:38 -0500

OCS, local forecasting offices, and the National Weather Service Environmental Modeling Center collaborated to launch Micronesia’s new Extratropical Storm Surge and Tide Operational Forecast System (ESTOFS). ESTOFS-Micronesia will provide critical information about storm surge and tidal water levels. Micronesia’s lack of local water level observations is dramatic, and domain-wide tide and surge forecast guidance is much needed. ESTOFS-Micronesia covers Palau, Guam, the Marianas Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, the Marshall Islands, and Wake Island—a territory that is home to more than half a million people as well as major U.S. Naval and Air Force bases. Initial implementation provides an unstructured model grid with resolution up to 200 meters at the coast, and upland nodes up to the 10-meter elevation contour to enable coastal inundation guidance.

‘Fire Whirls’ to Remediate Oil on Water

Thu, 15 Feb 2018 12:55:34 -0500

OR&R Director Dave Westerholm and senior OR&R staff visited the University of Maryland to hear Elaine Oran, PHD, present research on the use of fire whirls (commonly known as fire devils) to remediate oil on water. Fire whirls are a relatively clean burning technique with higher combustion efficiency and reduced emissions, particularly of soot. Fire whirls’ soot-free characteristic inspired their potential use as a more efficient solution for oil spill remediation. Researchers in Dr. Oran’s lab are studying the potential to create fire whirls in the field, characterize the burning rate, quantify emissions and burn residues, understand the limitations of their use, and evaluate their use as an oil spill remediation tool.

Report Documents State of U.S. Deep-Sea Corals and Sponges

Thu, 15 Feb 2018 12:55:13 -0500

A new NOAA report provides the most comprehensive inventory of deep-sea corals in U.S. waters, including descriptions of 62 new species discovered since the last time the inventory was published in 2007. The report serves as a baseline for management of these fragile deep-sea ecosystems, which are increasingly subject to pressure from the fishing, oil, gas, and mining industries. The report details coral and sponge taxonomy, distributions, and habitats, as well as the effects of human activities on the species, including coral damage assessments and management responses following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Since the last inventory, researchers found new deep-sea coral “gardens” in every U.S. region, including Alaska, with data suggesting that these areas provide habitats for fisheries of national and international importance. Coral and sponge ecosystems, both shallow- and deep-water, also contain a variety of novel compounds with medicinal potential. Recognized for Outstanding Contributions

Thu, 15 Feb 2018 12:54:52 -0500

The team received the Federal Geographic Data Committee’s prestigious 2017 Doug D. Nebert National Spatial Data Infrastructure Champion of the Year Award. The award honors a respected colleague, technical visionary, and recognized leader in the field., a partnership between NOAA and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, is one of the largest U.S. providers of marine spatial data, and works continuously with partners to ensure that the data are the best available. The website continues to support Mr. Nebert’s legacy by providing data and tools that address critical needs, from energy infrastructure planning to public hazard exposure and navigation safety.

National Marine Sanctuary and National Park Collaborate at Channel Islands

Thu, 15 Feb 2018 12:54:28 -0500

The Channel Islands Biosphere Reserve, situated west of Los Angeles, represents one of the last examples of natural Mediterranean ecosystems in North America and some of the few remaining natural Southern California coastal ecosystems. Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary and Channel Islands National Park monitor programs across their closely connected land and ocean ecosystems. Together, they conducted monitoring of seabird populations, intertidal areas, and kelp forests at Anacapa Island. They assessed breeding efforts and locations for the Scripp’s Murrelet seabird and discovered a new breeding location for the Ashy Storm Petrel seabird. They also conducted distribution surveys of the newly invasive algal species Undaria pinnatifida, and genetic fingerprinting and documentation. The collaboration across federal agencies of staff, vessels, and divers generated data needed to understand and manage this internationally significant area.

NOAA Leadership Practices for National Preparedness Exercise

Sat, 10 Feb 2018 05:53:23 -0500

OR&R’s Disaster Preparedness Program supported NOS leadership at this year’s first NOAA Pre-Eagle Horizon 2018 Leadership Tabletop Exercise in College Park, MD. The exercise provided a forum for NOAA leadership across line offices to discuss issues related to the NOAA Continuity of Operations Plan, which details a response posture to maintain mission-essential functions in the event of a catastrophic event impacting the National Capital Region (DC Metro Area). The second preparatory tabletop exercise is scheduled for March 15, 2018. The tabletop exercises lead up to NOAA's full-scale Eagle Horizon 2018 exercise in early May, which is part of FEMA's National Level Exercise program.

NOAA Participates in U.S./Japan Cooperative Program in Natural Resources

Sat, 10 Feb 2018 05:49:43 -0500

OCS Director RDML Shepard Smith and other OCS representatives attended the US/Japan Cooperative Program in Natural Resources (UJNR) Sea Bottom Surveys Panel in Honolulu. They reported on OCS activities related to autonomous systems, standards, disaster response, and data visualization. The UJNR was established in 1964 by the bilateral Committee on Trade and Economic Affairs, headed by the U.S. Secretary of State and Japan's Foreign Minister. The program provides a continuing forum to promote the development and conservation of natural resources through cooperation in applied science and technology; improve the environment for present and future generations; and increase and enhance the bonds of friendship between the two nations.

Hudson River Research Reserve Informs Better Shoreline Management

Sat, 10 Feb 2018 05:49:13 -0500

Nature-based shoreline stabilization and restoration techniques maintain and strengthen important ecological services and coastal resilience. To better understand and share nature-based techniques most likely to reduce risk, the Hudson River National Estuarine Research Reserve collaborated with multiple New York state agencies and outside technical experts to develop new guidance, titled Using Natural Measures to Reduce Risk in New York State. The findings will be published on the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation website.

Bringing Innovative Approaches to Coral Reef Resilience

Sat, 10 Feb 2018 05:48:38 -0500

A growing body of scientific literature focuses on novel interventions with the potential to enhance the recovery and resilience of coral reefs threatened by climate change. Earlier this year, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine appointed a committee to conduct a study that will evaluate these interventions, their potential benefits, and any associated risks. Sponsored by NOAA and led by some of the sharpest minds in coral reef science, the study will also yield recommendations on the most promising paths forward. The committee hosted the first of four public meetings to solicit input. Public interaction will play an important role in this effort to enhance coral resilience. Scientists, managers, and concerned citizens are encouraged to participate and share their opinions, research, field observations, and other testimony.

Blue Carbon Information Network Established for the Gulf Coast

Fri, 02 Feb 2018 08:14:48 -0500

The Gulf Coast's National Estuarine Research Reserves, in partnership with Restore America's Estuaries, established an information-sharing network focused on the loss of coastal wetlands. The network provides critical information to coastal officials about the greenhouse gas implications of coastal management decisions, and the ways in which blue carbon can be used as a conservation tool. The region continues to lose coastal wetlands at an alarming rate, negatively impacting water quality, shoreline stability, and habitat protection. Wetlands capture and store carbon—known as blue carbon—and when they are destroyed, harmful emissions are released back into the atmosphere. Resources, including informational webinars, are available online.

Reducing the Risk of Small-Vessel Accidents in Tampa Bay

Fri, 02 Feb 2018 08:14:08 -0500

OCS's Navigation Response Team 2 (NRT2) and the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) conducted a survey of the Sunshine Skyway Bridge in Tampa Bay, FL, to determine an alternate passage under the bridge for smaller boat traffic. Vessel traffic in the area is naturally restrictive and has been the site of major accidents in the past. A LIDAR system was installed on NRT2 to collect 3D data of the bridge supports, and bathymetry techniques were employed to assess protective structures above the waterline. OCS and USCG are currently creating a nautical chart to show what the route would look like with alternate passage scenarios.

Toxic Cyanobacteria Blooms Impair Mussel Growth in Lake Erie

Fri, 02 Feb 2018 08:13:38 -0500

A study conducted by NCCOS and the U.S. Geological Survey indicates that measured concentrations of cyanobacteria and one of the toxins that the bacteria produce, microcystin, impaired mussel growth in Lake Erie. Microcystin was shown to have a larger negative effect on mussel growth than cyanobacteria. Lake Erie supports commercial fisheries that rely, in part, on mussels in the lake as a food source. After being absent for most of the late 1980s and 1990s, cyanobacteria have again become seasonally prevalent in western Lake Erie, causing concern that cyanobacteria blooms and associated cyanotoxins could reduce mussel production and, ultimately, have negative effects on fishery production.

NGS Supports CO-OPS's Use of Global Navigation Satellite System

Fri, 02 Feb 2018 08:12:36 -0500

NGS and CO-OPS met regarding the Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) and its use in documenting the position of tide gauges. The meeting had particular significance for engineering applications as they pertain to tidal datums. NGS provided information on topics including its Online Positioning User Service (OPUS), data processing, and data management. The processing and analysis of continuous GNSS data is new to CO-OPS. As CO-OPS transitions to using GNSS technology as its primary means for vertical control, both program offices will leverage their partners to support the development of new methodologies for analyzing vertical control at water level stations.

NOAA and USGS Collaborate on 3D Nation Elevation Requirements and Benefits Study

Mon, 29 Jan 2018 08:35:34 -0500

NOAA and the U.S. Geological Survey are partnering on the 3D Nation Elevation Requirements and Benefits Study in conjunction with the Interagency Working Group on Ocean and Coastal Mapping (IWG-OCM) and the 3D Elevation Program (3DEP). This study will gather information on the availability, consistency, and value of 3D elevation data for the United States and its territories. Building on the 2012 National Enhanced Elevation Assessment, the study will focus on inland river, coastal, nearshore, and ocean elevations (bathymetry), in addition to future terrestrial elevation data needs (topography). Performed under contract by Dewberry, the study will document agency business uses, data requirements, and associated benefits of 3D elevation data. Federal mapping agencies will use this information to more effectively meet multiple federal, state, and other national business uses for elevation data.

NOAA Ocean Guardian Schools Tackle Environmental Threats to Their Local Watersheds

Mon, 29 Jan 2018 08:35:13 -0500

NOAA Ocean Guardian Schools started 2018 off on the right foot by making progress on stewardship projects that positively impact their local watershed or ocean. In Port Townsend, Washington, Blue Heron Middle School students met with ONMS staff to share their plans to plant native species that will help protect and restore local salmon habitats. First graders from Oppe Elementary, an aspiring Ocean Guardian School in Galveston, Texas, learned about the polluting effects of trash. The students created their own “national marine sanctuary” inside of the classroom, sorted trash within the “sanctuary,” and discussed the potential hazards that each type of trash they collected could pose to marine life. Activities like these instill youth with a conservation ethic that will increase the sustainability of our economy, fisheries, and the ocean.

NOAA and Federal Partners Release Comprehensive Mitigation Investment Strategy

Mon, 29 Jan 2018 08:34:33 -0500

The Government Accountability Office has requested a strategy to implement and coordinate “mitigation investments,” which are defined as risk management actions taken to avoid, reduce, or transfer risks from natural hazards, including severe weather. As part of the federal Mitigation Framework Leadership Group, NOAA helped design the first draft of the recently released National Mitigation Investment Strategy. This strategy, which is currently available for public comment, is meant to help prioritize and coordinate natural disaster mitigation investments across the government, private sector, and non-profits. The strategy also demonstrates the potentially high return that investing in mitigation strategies can yield. For example, the strategy cites a report showing that the U.S. saves six dollars in future disaster costs for every dollar spent on mitigation.

CO-OPS Helps Detect Alaskan Tsunami

Mon, 29 Jan 2018 08:34:14 -0500

Three CO-OPS tsunami-ready water level stations observed a small tsunami wave as a result of the 7.9 magnitude earthquake that occurred in the Gulf of Alaska. These coastal tide stations, which operate on all U.S. coasts in support of tsunami warnings, are part of CO-OPS’s National Water Level Observation Network. They comprise a critical component of NOAA’s effective tsunami warning system. Raw Water Level Data is accessed via satellite transmission directly by Tsunami Warning Centers, and the information is accessible at the 1-Min Water Level Tsunami Data page. The page is a valuable resource for impacted coastal communities, and provides real-time access to water level data.

Promoting Responsible Coral Reef Etiquette in the Florida Keys

Fri, 19 Jan 2018 09:28:55 -0500

Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary and the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation established the Blue Star Program to recognize dive and snorkel businesses that promote responsible and sustainable practices. The 25 businesses that voluntarily participate in the program train their staffs on the importance of coral reef ecosystems, diving and snorkeling etiquette, and sanctuary rules and regulations. The operators, in turn, conduct on-board educational briefings with clients about coral reef ecosystems and how to practice responsible reef etiquette. Clients who dive with Blue Star operators are 2.5 times less likely to impact the reef as compared to those who dive with other operators. Proprietors acknowledge that a healthy reef attracts visitors, and that reef-friendly business practices are part of the solution to protecting the Keys’ natural and cultural resources.

Introducing New Gulf of Maine Operational Forecast System

Fri, 19 Jan 2018 09:28:28 -0500

CO-OPS and OCS worked in partnership to unveil a new Gulf of Maine coastal conditions forecast system. The new operational forecast system (OFS) provides users with forecast guidance on water levels, currents, water temperature, and salinity. The model forecasts conditions out to 72 hours, which promotes safe navigation by helping mariners better plan their transits and preventing accidents. The information can also be used for coastal management, ecosystem restoration and protection, harmful algal bloom forecasting, and emergency response. The model is the result of more than three years of collaborative development, testing, and operational implementation between OCS and CO-OPS, and expands the coverage of coastal and Great Lakes OFSs across the nation. Implemented in ports, harbors, estuaries, Great Lakes, and coastal waters, these systems form a nationwide structure for real-time data, tidal predictions, data management, and operational modeling.

NOAA Supports Tribal Effort to Remove Abandoned and Derelict Vessels

Fri, 19 Jan 2018 09:27:59 -0500

The Makah Tribe of Washington successfully removed three abandoned and derelict vessels (ADVs) from the Makah Marina in Neah Bay. The wooden-hulled fishing boats were deteriorating into a debris field and contaminating a larger area of the marina. The removal eliminated the threat to navigation posed by the sunken vessels in the busy marina, and mitigated further harm to the local environment. The marine salvage firm Pacific Pile and Marine was contracted to remove the vessels, while tribal staff experienced in vessel removal provided oversight, coordination, and project management. A NOAA Marine Debris Program (MDP) Community-based Marine Debris Removal Grant made the effort possible. MDP created an ADV fact sheet to inform people about this global problem.

A Global Perspective on Declining Oxygen in the World Ocean

Fri, 19 Jan 2018 09:27:28 -0500

An international team of scientists, funded in part by NCCOS, published an article in the January 2018 issue of the journal Science that is the first to take a global perspective on the causes of, consequences of, and solutions for low oxygen in the oceans. Since 1950, ocean areas with no dissolved oxygen have increased fourfold, and areas with low oxygen have increased tenfold. The team recommends three strategies to tackle the problem: address the causes (nutrient pollution and climate change); protect vulnerable marine life; and improve low-oxygen tracking worldwide. As proof that local action can have a positive effect, the researchers point to the ongoing recovery of Chesapeake Bay, where nitrogen pollution has dropped 24 percent since its peak due to better sewage treatment and improved farming practices. While some low-oxygen zones persist, the no-oxygen portion of the bay has almost disappeared.

NOAA Leads Rescue of Humpback Whale in Hawaii

Tue, 16 Jan 2018 10:20:52 -0500

In late December, Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary led a multi-agency, community-based effort to free an adult humpback whale from a life-threatening entanglement. Responders worked to free the marine mammal over the course of more than three hours. Rescuers removed more than 340 feet of heavy gauge line from the whale, including 55 feet of line in its mouth. The gear will be analyzed to help officials determine where it came from and how to reduce the threat of future entanglements. The sanctuary and its partners have freed 24 large whales over the past 14 years, and, in the process, removed more than 10,000 feet of derelict fishing line.

NCCOS and The Nature Conservancy Create New Living Shorelines App

Tue, 16 Jan 2018 10:20:24 -0500

Scientists from NCCOS’s Beaufort Laboratory recently teamed up with The Nature Conservancy to create a new Living Shorelines app. This tool provides coastal communities in North Carolina access to the best available science and accurate local data for erosion and other coastal hazards. The app will allow communities to visualize their risks, while also examining where conservation and restoration activities can be utilized to increase resilience and reduce risk. The app is an expansion of the Conservancy’s Coastal Resilience tool, which has been in development since 2007.

Leaders Convene to Further Coral Reef Conservation

Tue, 16 Jan 2018 10:18:52 -0500

The International Coral Reef Initiative, a partnership between nations and organizations striving to preserve global coral reefs and related ecosystems around the world, recently convened for its 32nd General Meeting. The initiative’s actions have played a pivotal role in highlighting the importance of coral reefs and related ecosystems to environmental sustainability, food security, and social and cultural well-being. At the meeting, held in Nairobi, Kenya, CRCP and the U.S. Department of State joined more than 70 delegates from 20 member countries and organizations to discuss significant coral-related issues. Highlights included renewed support for the Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network, 2018 International Year of the Reef efforts, support for investments in natural infrastructure in reefs and mangroves, and recommendations to reduce damages from dredging and dumping on reefs.

West Coast Regional Planning Body Annual Meeting

Tue, 16 Jan 2018 10:18:17 -0500

The West Coast Regional Planning Body, a partnership between federal agencies, federally recognized tribes, and the states of Washington, Oregon, and California, is an important forum for supporting effective coastal and ocean-related decisions for the region. The planning body, co-led by OCM and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Planning, held its annual meeting in December 2017, with an agenda focused on reviewing the past year’s work, updating attendees on current efforts, and setting priorities for the year ahead. NOAA’s lead for the Northeast Ocean Plan also shared lessons learned, underscoring the mission of fostering cross-governmental relationships among members. An array of meeting materials can be found on the Regional Planning Body’s website.

NOAA Cooperative Partnership Completes Ocean Mapping Mission

Thu, 21 Dec 2017 14:12:58 -0500

The Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping (CCOM)/Joint Hydrographic Center (JHC), a cooperative partnership between the University of New Hampshire and NOAA, completed a 37-day ocean mapping mission to the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument in the Northwest Hawaiian Islands and adjacent waters southwest of Necker Island (Mokumanamana). In collaboration with the NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research, the mission aboard the UNOLS research vessel RV Kilo Moana supported the U.S. Extended Continental Shelf Project. The mapping data collected from this project will help establish whether the U.S. has an extended continental shelf in this area, and if so, what the limits of that extended shelf might be. The survey will also provide new high resolution data for the nautical charts, in many areas replacing soundings and depth contours based solely on sparse track-line soundings. The survey has covered 8,100 lineal nautical miles of sounding line and 40,050 square nautical miles of full bottom coverage multi-beam mapping.

Digital Coast Partners to Host NOAA Fellows

Thu, 21 Dec 2017 14:12:24 -0500

In 2018, Digital Coast Partnership organizations can join state coastal management programs as they vie for a coastal management fellow during the annual competition. The two-year fellows help host organizations complete projects aligned with NOAA priorities, and the students get unparalleled on-the- job education and experience. For the first time in the program’s 22-year history, the nonprofits that make up the Digital Coast Partnership were integrated in the matching process with state programs. As a result, in addition to the six state coastal programs hosting a fellow in 2018, there are three Digital Coast Partnership participants: the Coastal States Organization, the National States Geographic Information Council, and the National Association of Counties. State program hosts for 2018 include the California Coastal Commission and the coastal programs in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Delaware, Illinois, Maine, and Washington. Learn more about the Coastal Management Fellowship and projects.

NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries’ Recreational Fishing Summit

Thu, 21 Dec 2017 14:11:47 -0500

Last year, NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries and NOAA Fisheries jointly held their inaugural National Marine Sanctuary Advisory Council Recreational Fishing Summit. This collaborative effort planted the seeds for long-term dialogue and enhanced effective engagement with the nation’s recreational fishing constituency, as represented by their respective sites’ advisory councils. At the end of the summit, NOAA and advisory council representatives agreed to a set of common statements related to recreational fishing in national marine sanctuaries, and outlined steps for working together to achieve those goals. Recently, this group reconvened to discuss the steps they’ve taken to achieve the goals and priorities established at the summit, such as enhanced communication and engagement opportunities, increased recreation fishing communities’ contribution to and understanding of sanctuary science, and expansion of recreational fishing programs. New and enhanced collaborations include the initiation of recreational fishing-focused working groups at several sites, outreach products highlighting recreational fishing opportunities in national marine sanctuaries, and distribution of fish descending devices at barotrauma workshops.

Settlement for Natural Resource Damages at the Sheboygan River and Harbor Superfund Site

Thu, 21 Dec 2017 14:11:24 -0500

On December 12, The U.S. Department of Justice issued a press release announcing three settlements, with three separate companies, in excess of $4.5 million for natural resource damages at the Sheboygan River and Harbor Superfund site. These settlements will resolve claims brought by NOAA and its co-trustees regarding liability for historic industrial discharges of chemicals that caused injury to public natural resources including invertebrates, fish, amphibians, birds, and mammals, as well as the loss of recreational fishing services. The settlements will include proposed projects that protect 324 acres of unique habitat and improve public recreational access. The co-trustees will jointly manage the funds to implement the restoration projects described in the restoration plan.

New NOAA Resources Help Demystify Ecosystem Services Planning

Mon, 18 Dec 2017 14:36:38 -0500

When beginning a project, coastal managers often consider an ecosystem services approach by integrating the human benefits that healthy ecosystems provide. To help managers determine if this method is right for their project, OCM created a quick-reference checklist to provide a preliminary assessment, and a worksheet that offers a deeper dive into the key elements of ecosystem services, helping planners understand and examine project goals. Both products aim to help users think through key considerations when it comes to incorporating ecosystem services, and determine if it is the right approach for their needs.

Houston-Galveston PORTS® Expands System to Aid Navigation

Mon, 18 Dec 2017 14:35:52 -0500

OR&R and several West Coast Joint Assessment Team (JAT) participants completed an update of an informational guide, Recommendations for Conducting Cooperative Natural Resource Damage Assessment. This new document summarizes the collective roles, lines of communication, and latest suggested field techniques that support effective interactions between response, assessment, and restoration personnel. In addition to the West Coast JAT, there are Joint Assessment Teams that cover Alaska and several states along the Gulf Coast.

New Guide Developed for Cooperative Damage Assessment

Mon, 18 Dec 2017 14:35:13 -0500

OR&R and several West Coast Joint Assessment Team (JAT) participants completed an update of an informational guide, Recommendations for Conducting Cooperative Natural Resource Damage Assessment. This new document summarizes the collective roles, lines of communication, and latest suggested field techniques that support effective interactions between response, assessment, and restoration personnel. In addition to the West Coast JAT, there are Joint Assessment Teams that cover Alaska and several states along the Gulf Coast.

Advances in Data Collection and Dissemination for Navigation Products

Mon, 18 Dec 2017 14:34:43 -0500

NOAA hydrographic ships are equipped with sophisticated multibeam technology that survey large swaths of the ocean floor, collecting a tremendous volume of data. This data is used for many purposes including updating nautical charts. At the 2017 eNavigation Conference, the Coast Survey Development Lab’s chief gave a presentation entitled "Advances in Data Collection and Dissemination," where he discussed NOAA's role in supporting precision navigation and the future of data dissemination for navigational requirements. Participants included representatives from regional and national pilots associations, shipping lines, navigation system manufacturers, and other government agencies such as U.S. Coast Guard and the Maritime Administration. The primary topics at the conference focused on automation and autonomy in marine navigation, maritime cyber security, and data and products needed for navigation.

Foundation CORS Installed at Colorado’s Table Mountain Test Facility

Thu, 07 Dec 2017 13:02:54 -0500

A new ultra-stable Foundation CORS (Continuously Operating Reference Station) was installed at NOAA’s Table Mountain Test Facility near Boulder, Colorado, in keeping with NGS’s goal of establishing up to two new Foundation CORS sites per year for FY 2018. NGS’s mission is to define, maintain, and provide access to the National Spatial Reference System (NSRS)—the basis for all civilian positioning applications in the United States. The geometric component of the NSRS is accessed via CORS, which tracks Global Navigation Satellite System signals.

CO-OPS Completes First Season of Lake Erie HAB Operational Forecast

Thu, 07 Dec 2017 13:02:30 -0500

CO-OPS completed its first official season of forecasting the Lake Erie Harmful Algal Bloom (HAB) Operational Forecast. This year’s bloom, the third-largest in recent years, started near Maumee, Ohio, on July 17 and lasted until November 7. During that time, CO-OPS released 33 bulletins to support local water resource managers in mitigating the impacts. During this inaugural season, CO-OPS codified a system of transitioning products from research to operations, first transitioning the Lake Erie bulletin itself, and then rolling out a product enhancement with high-resolution Sentinel-3 satellite imagery.

Partners Make Repairs at Mission-Aransas National Estuarine Research Reserve

Thu, 07 Dec 2017 13:01:54 -0500

In the three months since Hurricane Harvey caused significant damage at the Mission-Aransas National Estuarine Research Reserve (NERR) in Port Aransas, Texas, reserve staff have worked to repair damages and restore operations. They accomplished their initial goal, which was to host the National Estuarine Research Reserve System’s annual meeting in Corpus Christi in mid-November. On the final day of the meeting, reserve staff, OCM staff, and NOS Assistant Administrator Russell Callender joined partners and staff from other reserves to clean and make repairs at Mission-Aransas NERR—all of which underscores the sense of community that the reserve system represents.

The Coral Reef Economy Takes Top Film Festival Honors

Thu, 07 Dec 2017 13:01:29 -0500

Healthy coral reef ecosystems pump billions of dollars into the U.S. economy—from supporting millions of jobs to protecting lives and coastal infrastructure. Communicating their value is critical to their conservation. To this end, CRCP and the Office for Coastal Management developed a fun and informative video, The Coral Reef Economy, which took first place in the animation category at the CINEFISH film festival in Merida, Mexico. The fast-draw film, available in both Spanish and English, demonstrates how coral reefs are crucial to the economy. The Gulf and Caribbean Fisheries Institute hosted the event.

Office of Coast Survey Releases Final National Charting Plan

Thu, 30 Nov 2017 12:43:31 -0500

OCS released the final version of its National Charting Plan,which gives NOAA chart users a better understanding of what to expect of nautical charts in the future. The changes described in the plan will allow OCS to be more responsive to the evolution of charting and address the public’s need for navigation data over the next several years. The plan outlines a suite of products that are more useful and safer to navigate with by providing more precise, higher-resolution charts with the most up-to-date navigation information. The comment period to solicit stakeholder feedback on changes to NOAA’s future nautical chart products was open from March 1 – July 1, 2017. The final version of the plan addresses and clarifies commenters’ questions and concerns.

Representing the Americas at International Geodesy Meeting

Thu, 30 Nov 2017 12:42:55 -0500

NGS’s chief geodesist served as one of five delegates for the Americas at the United Nations Subcommittee of Experts on the Global Geodetic Reference Frame in Mexico City. The subcommittee is under the United Nations Committee of Experts on Global Geographic Information Management. The subcommittee is a focal point for the coordination of international governance of geography, and the full committee is a focal point for statistics and geodesy.

Partnership Addresses Ocean Conservation Needs in the Caribbean

Thu, 30 Nov 2017 12:42:34 -0500

Marine protected areas (MPAs) are critical to coral reef conservation, yet many lack the capacity and support for effective management. CRCP and the Gulf and Caribbean Fisheries Institute created MPAConnect, an initiative to assess and identify priority capacity needs at MPAs in 10 Caribbean countries and territories. The program, founded in 2010, applies a peer-to-peer learning approach to capacity-building through workshops, technical support, and direct grant funding. This year, MPAConnect members used a specialized tool to reassess their needs and strengths in multiple areas, including sustainable financing, strategic planning and implementation, and outreach and communications. The outcomes of their assessments will inform continued efforts for effective MPA management.

Fishermen Help Sanctuary Staff Bring the Ocean to the Classroom

Thu, 30 Nov 2017 12:41:51 -0500

Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary collaborated with local fishermen to bring the ocean to the desks of students in the San Francisco area. Through the sanctuary’s Fisherman in the Classroom program, students learned about the challenges, economics, and rewards of fishing for salmon and dungeness crabs in national marine sanctuary waters, as well as the relationship between fishermen and sanctuary conservation policies. Putting a human face on important issues such as sustainable fisheries, watershed restoration, and national marine sanctuaries brings to life for students the rich cultural history and current relevance of commercial fishing in Central California.

Oil Spill Response Simulation at Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary

Thu, 16 Nov 2017 13:36:06 -0500

Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary supported the planning and execution of an Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS)-based oil spill response simulation. In addition to ONMS and OR&R, participants included Chevron, the California Office of Oil Spill Prevention and Response, American Aerospace Technologies, Inc., and AeroVironment, Inc. The project’s objectives were to test and evaluate the use of long-endurance UASs in offshore oil spill patrol, response, and shoreline cleanup, and to evaluate AeroVironment’s new high-resolution payload in support of Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA). An Arcturus Jump 20 UAS was used to fly offshore beyond the visual line of site to image natural oil seeps in the Santa Barbara Channel. NOAA R/V Shearwater supported the project by disbursing Fluorescein dye and rice hulls to simulate oil in the water. The AeroVironment Puma UAS supported NRDA imaging along the shoreline.

Combating Marine Debris in Mobile, Alabama

Thu, 16 Nov 2017 13:35:46 -0500

The nonprofit Mobile Baykeeper, with support from a NOAA Marine Debris Program Community-Based Removal Grant, is leading efforts to increase the health of One Mile Creek, which flows into Mobile Bay and eventually into the Gulf of Mexico. The organization held its first “Moving Toward a Litter-Free Mardi Gras” cleanup of One Mile Creek just north of downtown Mobile near the site of a major drain for the city’s stormwater. Over the course of the next two years, Mobile Baykeeper will conduct five more cleanups and work with the City of Mobile to install devices to help capture debris during Mardi Gras before it pollutes the creek.

Strengthening American Samoa’s Coral Reefs

Thu, 16 Nov 2017 13:35:14 -0500

In response to high nutrient rates found along the coast that could prove harmful to American Samoa’s coral reefs, the Maryland-based nonprofit Ridge to Reefs, with help from CRCP, developed a range of nature-based water quality enhancement features. The efforts—aimed at reducing impacts from human activities—include installation of green management practices for water treatment and septic systems. With additional assistance from the American Samoa Power Authority, Natural Resources Conservation Service, and student volunteers, the program will boost the health of the reefs while strengthening community and government partnerships. As these enhancements continue, the development of a watershed plan and future restoration projects will further the region’s conservation efforts.

U.S. and Canada Collaborate on Great Lakes Data Collection

Thu, 16 Nov 2017 13:34:32 -0500

NGS and CO-OPS participated in the 103rd annual meeting of the Coordinating Committee on Great Lakes Basic Hydraulic and Hydrologic Data in Buffalo, NY. In addition to NOAA, representatives from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Geological Survey, and the Government of Canada contributed to discussions. Prior to 1953, U.S. and Canadian federal agencies independently collected and compiled data pertaining to the hydraulic and hydrologic characteristics of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River, with only superficial and informal coordination. As a consequence, the same basic data often were not compatible. Remedying the situation required a concerted effort to study and evaluate the data that both countries used.

Seafloor Mapping Initiative Contributes to Maritime Safety

Thu, 02 Nov 2017 12:26:41 -0400

Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary partnered with NCCOS and OCS in 2014 to map the seafloor in areas of the Southern California Bight. The partnership evolved into the Southern California Seafloor Mapping Initiative, a broader effort that now includes additional NOAA offices and academic, nonprofit, state, and federal partners. To provide a clearer picture of potential navigation hazards and other geographic features, OMAO recently conducted survey work in shallow-water areas around the sanctuary. This survey, in combination with information collected from two previous missions, will assist OCS in generating important safety updates to nautical charts. The partnership has helped produce publicly available information on more than 45 percent of the sanctuary’s ocean bottom.

Helping the Maryland Geological Survey Monitor Subsidence

Thu, 02 Nov 2017 12:26:18 -0400

As the next step in a project launched in October 2016, NGS helped the Maryland Geological Survey (MGS) monitor subsidence at groundwater pumping stations on the western shore of the Maryland coastal plain. NGS deployed seven static GPS receivers on deep-rod bench marks established at pumping facilities in Crofton, Annapolis, Arnold, Calvert Cliffs, Lexington Park, Waldorf, and Rosaryville. Last year’s observations will be compared with this year’s to determine if there were any measurable changes. Analyses will be ongoing, and MGS will document any subsidence related to the removal of groundwater. NGS and Maryland plan to continue the project into the future.

The Coastal Zone Management Act Turns 45

Thu, 02 Nov 2017 12:25:53 -0400

On October 27, NOAA celebrated the 45th anniversary of the Coastal Zone Management Act (CZMA), landmark legislation that waved in a new era by recognizing the importance of safeguarding the nation’s coasts, estuaries, and oceans. The federal and state partnership provides an effective means of accomplishing both national and local goals, and places equal consideration on economic and environmental priorities. The CZMA program increases public access to the coasts, protects and restores coastal habitat, and minimizes risks from storms and other natural hazards. The legislation continues to be as relevant today as it was 45 years ago.

A New PORTS® in Matagorda, Texas

Thu, 02 Nov 2017 12:25:25 -0400

NOAA, the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB), and the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) established a new Physical Oceanographic Real Time System (PORTS®) in Matagorda Bay, Texas, about 108 miles south of Houston. The system consists of a newly installed current meter in the bay’s shipping channel and three existing stations that measure water levels and meteorological data. The USCG was a strong proponent of the system due to increasing numbers of commercial vessels grounding near the channel. In addition to supporting safe and efficient maritime commerce, Matagorda Bay PORTS will also address the need to understand the area’s physical oceanographic regime in order to support coastal projects by TWDB, USCG, and others. In the first month of its provisional operation, the new PORTS observed the passage of Hurricane Harvey with no damage to its sensors, and provided important data on currents and water levels in real time.

Interagency Partnership Provides Essential Data at Reduced Cost

Fri, 27 Oct 2017 14:34:13 -0400

LIDAR data is critical to many scientific and engineering studies, yet its cost and complexity often limit its collection, particularly in remote locations like Hawaii. To fill this gap, OCM created an interagency partnership, comprised of 14 organizations across all levels of government, to generate $1.76 million in funding. The partnership will reduce the overall cost of data collection, eliminate redundancy among agencies, and make the data readily available to the public. A return-on-investment study anticipates that the partnership will provide more than $1 million in benefits each year.

A Major Milestone in Modernizing Nautical Chart Production

Fri, 27 Oct 2017 14:33:42 -0400

OCS completed a major milestone in the modernization of nautical chart production. Four years ago, it began the task of loading the entire portfolio of more than 1,000 electronic navigational charts (NOAA ENC®) into the Nautical Information System database. The database stores and updates all of the information used to produce weekly ENC updates, as well as the data used to update NOAA’s other nautical chart products. The project was planned to take five years, so was completed almost a year ahead of schedule. With the database load completed, work will now focus on improving the quality of the data and streamlining the production process to get data vital to safe navigation more quickly into the hands of mariners.

Happy 45th Birthday, National Marine Sanctuaries

Fri, 27 Oct 2017 14:33:19 -0400

Forty-five years ago this month, Congress passed legislation establishing the National Marine Sanctuary Program (later named NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries). Today’s National Marine Sanctuary System consists of 13 sanctuaries and two marine national monuments. Across all national marine sanctuaries, about $8 billion annually is generated in local coastal and ocean-dependent economies. The system’s management plan process, which includes more than 400 citizen-based advisory council members, is the most inclusive public participatory process in marine conservation. At the same time, more than 400 coastal communities and 600 partnerships work with ONMS to build a stronger, more resilient future for these valued marine ecosystems.

A Living Shoreline Planning Tool for North Carolina

Fri, 27 Oct 2017 14:32:56 -0400

NCCOS and The Nature Conservancy partnered to create a decision-support tool for North Carolina’s coastal communities that identifies where shoreline conditions are suitable to ensure successful living shorelines, which use native vegetation to stabilize the shoreline. The nature-based technique provides an alternative to “hard” stabilization methods like bulkheads, and provides numerous benefits, including nutrient pollution remediation and protection from waves and storms. Since 2011, NCCOS has been filling gaps in the science that informs the use of living shorelines to control coastal erosion, examining how shoreline hardening negatively affects estuarine animals; the relationship between shoreline wave energy, marsh distribution, and marsh erosion rates; and the ability of fringing marshes to attenuate waves and trap sediment. The research is the foundation for the new map-based tool, which analyzes wave energy and marsh distribution to determine which living shoreline approach is best for a given site.

CO-OPS Field Crews Visit Great Lakes Stations

Thu, 19 Oct 2017 12:34:25 -0400

CO-OPS recently embarked on a three-week maintenance trip for National Water Level Observation Network (NWLON) stations in the Great Lakes, specifically Lake Huron and the St. Clair River. These visits often require overcoming unique challenges and coming up with maintenance solutions on the fly. CO-OPS depends on its field crews to keep its network of more than 200 NWLON stations functioning so that they can continue to provide critical water level information to local users.

NOAA Ship Rainier Surveys Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary

Thu, 19 Oct 2017 12:34:02 -0400

NOAA Ship Rainier arrived off the Santa Barbara coast to complete hydrographic surveys at NOAA’s Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary as part of the Southern California Seafloor Mapping Initiative and Integrated Ocean and Coastal Mapping program. Rainier is one of NOAA’s four large hydrographic ships and is equipped with four survey launches designed to survey in shallow waters. The ship will use its new multibeam echo sounders to support safe navigation and update nautical charts for the sanctuary. In addition to providing data for nautical chart updates, the surveys will also generate backscatter imagery, which the sanctuary uses for habitat mapping. Rainier started its survey work in the sanctuary around San Miguel Island, the westernmost island in the Channel Islands chain.

Post-Hurricane Nate Aerial Imagery

Thu, 19 Oct 2017 12:33:29 -0400

Hurricane Nate imagery is now available on the NGS storm imagery website. NGS used the Office of Marine and Aviation Operations Beechcraft King Air 350 CER aircraft to collect more than 1,764 aerial oblique images covering more than 736 square kilometers. The covered area spans from New Orleans to Memphis, focusing on port areas for navigation safety. Additionally, NGS also reprocessed imagery collected by a private contractor to FEMA and incorporated that data into the NGS site.

U.S. Navy Oil and Hazardous Spill Prevention and Response Workshop

Thu, 19 Oct 2017 12:32:56 -0400

At a U.S. Navy-sponsored workshop, OR&R presented how the Environmental Response Management Application (ERMA®) was used during recent hurricane responses to provide fast and accurate data acquisition, prioritize data and products, and support interoperability among data visualization systems. OR&R also discussed recent efforts of the Arctic Council Working Group on Emergency Prevention, Preparedness, and Response, including international exercises, data sharing, and support of the Arctic Nations’ implementation of an international agreement on oil pollution preparedness and response. Highlights included new polar projections options in Arctic ERMA, which provides a more accurate depiction of data and mapping in the polar latitudes and a more international, transparent view of the Arctic to assist with planning and response. The presentation also highlighted multiple partnerships with the Alaska Ocean Observing System, the University of Alaska, and the National Weather Service.

MARPLOT 5.1 Offers Enhanced Import, NOAA Charts, and More

Fri, 13 Oct 2017 09:23:58 -0400

A recent update to OR&R’s MARPLOT® mapping software gives emergency responders and planners improved tools with which to assess geospatial information for emergency incidents and to create custom maps. With this latest update, MARPLOT can now import 11 different file types, including geodatabase, shapefile, and Google KML/KMZ files. This broad range of import options allows MARPLOT users to import map data from a variety of common sources and mapping programs. MARPLOT is part of the CAMEO® software suite jointly developed by NOAA and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. For more than 30 years, CAMEO has provided tools to assist responders during chemical emergencies and helped emergency planners prepare for such incidents ahead of time.

Post-Hurricane Irma Surveys and Assessments in Florida Keys

Fri, 13 Oct 2017 09:23:34 -0400

Federal and state government agencies, academic institutions, and nonprofit organizations mobilized to evaluate the impacts of Hurricane Irma on the Florida reef tract and, specifically, in Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary (FKNMS), where the hurricane’s eye wall crossed. During a rapid assessment, divers sent real-time information to land-based experts to determine “triage” areas. The Civil Air Patrol helped the sanctuary find missing and displaced buoys, and aerial photographs were used to guide the replacement of informational buoys and mooring balls in protected areas. FKNMS encouraged boaters and divers to report changes in natural and cultural resources to Mote Marine Laboratory’s C-OCEAN online tool and to contact the Florida Public Archaeology Network. Partners included NOAA, National Park Service, Florida Department of Environmental Protection, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Nova Southeastern University, Coral Restoration Foundation, The Nature Conservancy-Florida, Florida Aquarium Center for Conservation, and National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.

Assisting Emergency Hydrographic Surveys Post-Hurricane Maria

Fri, 13 Oct 2017 09:23:11 -0400

CO-OPS provided critical tidal support to the Office of Coast Survey (OCS) as it responded to emergency hydrographic survey requests in the wake of Hurricane Maria. As Maria swept past the U.S. Virgin Islands and made landfall on Puerto Rico, OCS requested tide support for 17 ports and harbors on St. Croix, St. John, St. Thomas, and Puerto Rico, in order to perform emergency response surveys to assist with reopening ports and ensuring safe navigation once the storm had passed. Working throughout the week, CO-OPS supplied updates on its tide gauges operating in the area and provided detailed information on all tide gauges that survived the storm. This helped OCS’s Mobile Integrated Survey Team and NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson, in coordination with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Coast Guard, assist in resuming port operations.

A Step-By-Step Guide to Assess Coral Reef Resilience

Fri, 13 Oct 2017 09:22:51 -0400

Maintaining and restoring resilience is a major focus of most reef managers around the world. This focus provides options—and hope—in the face of new and often daunting challenges. Despite powerful external forces like climate change, local actions can positively influence the future of reefs. The new publication, A Guide to Assessing Coral Reef Resilience for Decision Support, presents the results of more than a decade of work to establish resilience assessment protocols. The document outlines a 10-step process for completing a resilience assessment and gives managers the means to map and monitor reef resilience, and also to identify and prioritize actions that support resilience. CRCP, the UN Environment Program, and other partners collaborated to produce the guide.

Facilitating the Use of Social Science Across NOAA

Thu, 28 Sep 2017 13:22:19 -0400

NOAA continues to recognize the important roles that social science and our citizens play in communicating with communities and keeping people safe and productive. OCM’s social science services contract vehicle provides easy steering for other NOAA offices to access social science services, such as needs assessments and demographic analyses that support coastal management goals. As a result, OCM initiated 14 projects across NOAA this year, many of which examine the socioeconomic value of NOAA’s products and services.

Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary Research Expedition

Thu, 05 Oct 2017 12:00:09 -0400

Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary and partners completed the first part of a multi-leg remotely operated vehicle (ROV) expedition to explore mesophotic coral communities in the northwestern Gulf of Mexico. Using the partner-owned and -operated ROV Mohawk, benthic transects were conducted from 50- to 200-meter depths to collect data on the number of corals and capture high-resolution imagery of the seafloor. The team completed more than 20 hours of ROV dive time and collected more than 50 coral samples that will be used for species identification and genetic analyses. Collaboration with NOAA Fisheries’ Deep Sea Coral Research and Technology Program, University of North Carolina Wilmington Undersea Vehicle Program, City University of New York, University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, and the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation was imperative to conduct the logistics-heavy, time-intensive research.

OR&R Supports U.S. Coast Guard PREP Exercise in Maryland

Thu, 05 Oct 2017 11:59:49 -0400

OR&R staff participated in a full-scale multi-agency exercise—known as a PREP (Preparedness for Response Exercise Program) exercise—led by U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) Sector Maryland-North Capitol Region. The scenario involved a train derailment on a bridge spanning the Susquehanna River near where it empties into Chesapeake Bay, resulting in two rail cars burning their cargo, several cars falling into the river, and 320,000 gallons of oil being released. Impacts included floating oil, oiled shorelines, oiled wildlife, a navigational closure, and air quality concerns. OR&R scientists and data managers provided information on shoreline assessment, cleanup methods, and resources at risk; initiated a Natural Resource Damage Assessment; and, for purposes of the exercise, coordinated the Environmental Response Management Application (ERMA®) as the Common Operating Picture for the USCG.

NCCOS Awards $1.7 Million for Harmful Algal Bloom and Toxins Research

Thu, 05 Oct 2017 11:59:29 -0400

NCCOS recently awarded $1.68 million in FY17 funding for nine research projects to identify conditions that increase bloom toxicity; model toxin movement from water into shellfish, fish, and marine mammals; and improve toxin monitoring and forecasts. These multi-year awards from NCCOS’s competitive programs, with a total funding target of $5.2 million through 2019, will have a national impact.

Online Resources Help Communities Reduce Flood Risk and Save Money

Thu, 05 Oct 2017 11:59:09 -0400

Preserving floodplains as open space keeps people and infrastructure out of harm’s way and allows communities to recover quickly after flooding occurs. Additionally, under FEMA’s Community Rating System, communities can earn discounts on flood insurance premiums by preserving floodplains—but many communities lack the capacity to identify all potential credits. OCM’s new How to Map Open Space for Community Rating System Credit and companion GIS Workflow and Mapping Guide, both available on NOAA’s Digital Coast, detail the process for mapping and calculating credits for preserved open space in seven easy-to-understand steps, with links to helpful data, information, and resources.

Sharing Modernization Plans for the National Spatial Reference System

Thu, 28 Sep 2017 13:23:17 -0400

NGS representatives visited the National Geospatial Technical Operations Center of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) in Rolla, MO. They outlined the details of modernization plans for the National Spatial Reference System (NSRS) and learned how current datums are used in map production at USGS. The meeting will assist USGS in developing a plan to smoothly transition its operations to the new NSRS in 2022.

Visiting Denmark to Test Promising New Automation Software

Thu, 28 Sep 2017 13:22:55 -0400

A team from OCS traveled to Denmark to participate in a workshop on automated cartography hosted by the Danish Hydrographic Office. Participants from the Norwegian and Swedish hydrographic offices also participated. The focus of the workshop was a new software program developed in cooperation with the Danish Hydrographic Office and the Danish software company SCALGO. The new software creates nautically correct contours and sounding (depth) selections from high-resolution bathymetry. The manual and subjective process typically takes a lot of time and experience to do well. The results impressed OCS, which will test the software over the next year.

ONMS Rolls Out its Five-Year Strategic Plan

Thu, 28 Sep 2017 13:22:31 -0400

ONMS released Our Vision for America's Treasured Ocean Places, its five-year plan for advancing the protection of some of the nation’s most remarkable ocean and Great Lakes areas. Part of the success of the National Marine Sanctuaries Act is a result of its requirement to consider the diverse and sometimes competing needs of all of its stakeholders. Laying out an ambitious plan requires a new way of doing business. The plan was created with input from ONMS staff, cooperating agencies, and diverse stakeholders. This collaborative roadmap will be strategically focused on the National Marine Sanctuary System and its constituents and resources to deliver an empowered, valued, and effective system while ensuring thriving sanctuaries and other ocean parks.

Telecasts Beam Sanctuary Visitors into Deep-sea Exploration

Thu, 10 Aug 2017 11:36:02 -0400

ONMS teamed up with the Ocean Exploration Trust to explore West Coast marine ecosystems, including five national marine sanctuaries. A recent voyage aboard the Exploration Vessel Nautilus explored and characterized paleo-shoreline features in and around California’s Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary. The Nautilus is equipped with telepresence capabilities, which allow scientists and the public to actively participate in the expedition in real time. Telecasts enhance STEM education and connect students with the National Marine Sanctuary System. During the three-week-long Channel Islands leg of the expedition, more than 2,400 youth and families virtually explored ancient shoreline features submerged in the sanctuary via 71 live ship-to-shore interactions with scientists and explorers.