NOS Assistant Administrator Weekly Update

Hi everyone,

At the All Hands meeting last week, I talked about the fact that the NOS Roadmap captures key outcomes that support our priorities and require collaboration across program offices. I wanted to highlight a great example of a project that was inspired by this approach. To improve the use of total water level as a decision-making tool in coastal communities, the Center for Operational Oceanographic Products and Services is working with the National Geodetic Survey, U.S. Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS®), Office of Coast Survey, and Office for Coastal Management on the Inundation Dashboard. This project helps coastal communities understand and prepare for what sea levels are doing along the coast in the short-term, such as understanding when certain roads may flood due to frequent nuisance flooding, planning coastal construction projects around high water events, and anticipating the impacts of a high water event on evacuation plans should a storm come during a period when water will already be high along the coast.

Users will have access to real-time alerts and historical inundation information at select tide stations. Alerts are triggered when observed or forecast water levels at the stations exceed the NOAA minor flood thresholds set by local Weather Forecast Offices of the National Weather Service. Select locations also include inundation benchmarks. This allows community planners and emergency management officials to use well-known landmarks, such as statues, as a way to better visualize and communicate water levels and impacts during floods.

The project is being tested in three locations: New York City/Long Island Sound; Lower Chesapeake Bay; and coastal North Carolina. Users will be able to drill down to data such as the latest water level observations; next high tide information; water level observations over the past 24 hours compared with the minor flood threshold; the number of historical flood days per year; and top 10 historic water levels. CO-OPS is leveraging existing efforts with this product and applying them in new ways, such as using flood layers from OCM’s Coastal Flood and Sea Level Rise Viewer to depict predicted flood levels.

This information is increasingly important as we broaden our focus from single large-scale events, like hurricanes, to include an understanding of what is happening more regularly on our coastlines as a result of sea level rise. Coastal communities can use the information provided in the Inundation Dashboard to better plan for increased tidal flooding events happening in the near-term rather than 100 years into the future.

This is a great example of the value that our program offices bring to coastal communities and the benefits of cross-office collaboration.

Thank you,

W. Russell Callender, Ph.D.
Assistant Administrator
Ocean Services and Coastal Zone Management,
National Ocean Service

Adventures of a Maritime Archaeologist

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Around NOS

NOAA Explores World War II Shipwrecks and Surrounding Habitats

NOAA and partners are visiting the remains of the Nicaraguan-flagged freighter SS Bluefields, along with the German U-boat (submarine) that sank it 74 years ago, U-576, to document what is now known as WWII’s Battle of the Atlantic. Using manned submersibles, researchers are collecting data to visualize and recreate the underwater site. Underwater robots and advanced remote sensing technology will generate bathymetric data and detailed acoustical models of the wrecks and surrounding seafloor. NCCOS will primarily work with acoustic data interpretation related to benthic habitat mapping and fish habitat characterization. NOAA is currently considering an expansion of Monitor National Marine Sanctuary’s boundaries to increase protections to these and other historic shipwrecks. As the only known location in U.S. waters containing archaeologically preserved remains of a convoy battle where both sides are so close together, studying the site will reveal more about the battle, as well as the natural habitats surrounding the wrecks.

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Online Tool Assists California Counties

In California’s Sonoma and Mendocino Counties, the Russian River watershed and coastline areas are facing sea level rise and hazard-related flooding, conflicts over water uses, and steep declines in salmon and trout, in part due to degraded water and habitat. A new flood mapping and information tool, Our Coast, Our Future, helps users “see” and anticipate many of these problem areas so they can make wiser plans and decisions. Four state and local coastal organizations aim to use the tool in their plans and operations. Point Blue Conservation Science developed and hosts the site, and the U.S. Geological Survey contributed coastal storm modeling. NOAA funded the effort as part of the Russian River Habitat Focus Area, and OCM coordinated and facilitated.


OR&R Participates in Canada-U.S. Spill Workshop

OR&R participated in the Canada-U.S. Pacific 2016 Oil Spill Workshop and a joint response team meeting held in Victoria, British Columbia. Hosted by the Canadian Coast Guard Western Region, the workshop focused on engaging First Nations and tribal members in the Southern Salish Sea region in discussions about transboundary response and preparedness. The workshop also provided an opportunity for a listening session to get input from First Nations and tribes. Topics included fisheries closures during spills, protection of cultural resources, and wildlife response.


CO-OPS Keeps Important Data Flowing

CO-OPS completed a major station upgrade of the National Water Level Observation Network (NWLON) station at Toke Point, Washington, home to the Shoalwater Bay Tribe. The upgrades included a new fiberglass tide house, an all new Data Collection Platform and other electronic components, a new microwave water level sensor, dual wind birds, and a water temperature sensor. CO-OPS maintains a national water level network of more than 200 stations that provide continuous validated tidal observations. The stations receive regular maintenance and upgrades to ensure that they provide updated, accurate data 24 hours a day, seven days a week.


NGS Collects Great Lakes Imagery

NGS is continuing an extensive aerial oblique and nadir collection of georeferenced Great Lakes imagery, which began at the beginning of August but was interrupted to collect emergency response imagery of the Louisiana flood. The Great Lakes imagery will be used as a baseline to assess hazards to navigation, impacts of future coastal events, and coastal zone management. The imagery will also be used to support mission partners, including other NOAA offices, the U.S. Geological Survey, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Federal Emergency Management Agency, and other state, local, and academic interests.


ONMS Leads Removal of Grounded Vessel

NOAA and partners successfully removed the fishing vessel No. 1 Ji Hyun, which stranded on the reef offshore of Aunu’u Island in the National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa months ago. The U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) coordinated the initial response, ensuring that the threat of pollution was removed. NOAA then led the removal effort, while USCG and Village of Aunu’u leaders provided technical expertise. The vessel was towed to Pago Pago Harbor to be placed in dry dock. ONMS will assess any potential damage to the coral reef and determine a feasible restoration plan. Other partners included the National Park Service of American Samoa and the Office of the Lieutenant Governor of American Samoa.


NOS Assistant Administrator

NOS Assistant Administrator
Dr. Russell Callender

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