As I mentioned in my all hands email on February 3, the FY 2016 President’s Budget Request calls for $550.8 million in discretionary funds for NOS. This is a $65.9 million increase from the current year. Over the past few weeks, I’ve had an opportunity to join Dr. Sullivan and other NOAA leaders in discussing the budget with appropriations and authorizing committee staff on the Hill. Consistently, the importance of NOS products and services has resonated with these audiences.
An important component to the budget process is keeping our constituents—which include data users, academic partners, and nongovernmental organizations—engaged and informed. Dr. Sullivan provided constituents with an overview of NOAA’s budget this week. I will be briefing NOS constituents in March through a series of presentations. The work we do with our partners is critical to NOS’s mission and I look forward to these meetings.
With the President’s Budget Request submitted to Congress, the next step is for the House and Senate to pass budget resolutions, then for the House and Senate Appropriations subcommittees to mark up the appropriations bills. Once the House and Senate vote on their respective bills and reconcile differences, they send the bills to the President for signature. In recent years—as you likely already know—this process has not been completed before the beginning of the next fiscal year. In the meantime, I join NOAA and NOS leaders in continuing to promote the value and importance of our products and services to the nation.
Finally, I invite you to check out this month’s Beacon Safety Newsletter.
W. Russell Callender, Ph.D.
Acting Assistant Administrator
Ocean Services and Coastal Zone Management,
National Ocean Service
Invasive species are capable of causing extinctions of native plants and animals, reducing biodiversity, competing with native organisms for limited resources, and altering habitats. This week, NOS offices are highlighting their work to understand the impacts of invasive species. Check out our Facebook and Twitter accounts for more!
The latest four-month outlook from NOAA’s Coral Reef Watch program warns that warm ocean temperatures in the tropical Pacific and Indian Oceans could set the stage for major coral bleaching events across the globe in 2015. According to NOAA scientists, the greatest threat for coral bleaching is in the western South Pacific and eastern Indian oceans, a pattern similar to that seen during global bleaching events in 1998 and 2010. The record warm oceans are primed to cause temperatures to rise above levels that bleach corals. American Samoa has already reported the start of bleaching on its shallower reefs. Coral Reef Watch’s newly refined satellite observational capacity can focus on reef areas as small as five square kilometers, allowing coral reef managers to accurately pinpoint and address thermal stress at a local scale.
On February 16, 2015, a CSX oil train derailed and caught fire in West Virginia near the confluence of Armstrong Creek and the Kanawha River. The train was hauling 3.1 million gallons of highly volatile Bakken crude oil from North Dakota to a facility in Virginia. Of the 109 train cars, 27 of them derailed on the banks of the Kanawha River, but none of them entered the river. Initially, the derailed train cars caused a huge fire, which burned down a nearby house and resulted in the evacuation of several nearby towns. Much of the oil they were carrying was believed to have been consumed in the fire, which affected 19 train cars. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency confirmed that a small amount of oil entered the Kanawha River as ice melted and water levels changed. The focus now is on cleaning up the accident site and removing any remaining oil from the damaged train cars. As of February 25, there had been no reported impact on drinking water or public safety, according to the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection. NOAA assisted the response by providing custom weather and river forecasting, which includes modeling the potential fate of any oil that reached the river.
OCM has developed a new story map to act as a valuable tool to educate the community of Cape Canaveral, Florida, on coastal development and sea level rise. The interactive map provides videos and photos, along with examples and data, to help users visualize current impacts and better understand future conditions. Three separate viewing windows feature aerial imagery of the Cape prior to development of the Kennedy Space Center (1958), natural color imagery of the area (2014), and a 3-foot sea level rise scenario, and offer a glimpse into the area’s past, present, and possible future. This virtual journey provides education about the space program, natural ecosystems, economics, and the inevitability of future climate impacts. By inviting users to explore Cape Canaveral’s past, present, and future, the story map acts as a valuable tool to educate the public on coastal development and sea level rise.
NOAA recently presented a plenary session focused on navigation technology at the Great Lakes Waterways Conference. The navigation technology panel described the latest developments and state-of-the-art tools offered by NOAA to better serve navigators in the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway system. Speakers from CO-OPS, OCS, and the National Weather Service shared information on NOAA’s products and services including mapping, charting, environmental observations, lake and weather forecasts, and positioning.
NGS personnel recently participated in the International LIDAR Mapping Forum (ILMF) in Denver. The ILMF is a technical conference and exhibition focused on airborne, terrestrial, and underwater light detection and ranging (LIDAR) to support urban modeling, coastal zone mapping, utility asset management, emergency services, and disaster response. New developments in LIDAR technology and trends were also discussed, supporting a clear and growing need for coastal mapping data. Other participants included private industry, government agencies, and universities.
ONMS recently had several of its research projects featured nationally, from major scientific meetings to peer-reviewed journals. At the 2015 American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) meeting in San Jose, Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary staff presented the Whale Alert app, developed in part by NOAA, in a session on dynamic ocean management. The Citizen Science Association, also in San Jose, featured a panel session on youth-based citizen science hosted by LiMPETS, the long-term student monitoring program created and supported by NOAA’s national marine sanctuaries in California. Researchers at Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument published an article on the “Ecological Role of Apex Predators on Deep Coral Reefs in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands” in the peer-reviewed scientific journal Marine Ecology Progress Series. To round out the month of national visibility, the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary conservation science staff published an article on the rocky intertidal ecosystems of the South Farallon Islands, which appears in the latest volume of Monographs of the Western North American Naturalist.
NOS Acting Assistant Administrator
Dr. Russell Callender
How does a young man who dreamed of being an astronaut wind up at NOAA? Leon Geschwind tells us in this week's feature.
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