NOS Assistant Administrator Weekly Update

Hi everyone,

I would like to reiterate the message that Dr. Kathy Sullivan sent on Monday to mark five years since the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. As Dr. Sullivan said, this is a time to reflect on the lives lost, as well as the economic and environmental damage done. But it is also a time to reflect on the extraordinary efforts of NOAA staff members that started within hours of the incident and continue today. Dr. Sullivan also pointed us to “A Strategy for a Healthy Gulf of Mexico: Resilience through Ecosystem Restoration.” This document lays out resilience objectives for the Gulf of Mexico, identifies ways to build on the strength of NOAA’s existing capabilities, and provides foundational principles for the strategy.

On another note, I would like to thank all of the people who are supporting NOAA Kids Day events today. Here in Silver Spring, we are having activities throughout the day. It is exciting to see the sons and daughters of our employees learn about the work we do. I hope that we will draw the next generation of National Ocean Service experts from among these energetic and curious young people. I know that this event — and those occurring across our organization today — take a tremendous amount of time to organize and execute; my deepest appreciation to the many volunteers who made today’s event such a success. Interested in activities you can do with your kids all year long? Check out these resources.

Thank you,

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

What is the GPS on Bench Marks project?

NOS Highlight

The National Geodetic Survey is encouraging the public to find bench marks, collect information about the bench marks, and send that information back to NGS. Learn more.

Around NOS

Deepwater Horizon Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA) ‘Data Warehouse’ Expanded for Public Access

A data warehouse and custom query tool called DIVER, which NOAA developed to support the NRDA for the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill, is now available for public use. DIVER (Data Integration, Visualization, Exploration and Reporting) provides unprecedented flexibility for filtering and downloading validated data collected as part of the ongoing NRDA. DIVER builds on business intelligence data management practices by integrating diverse environmental datasets collected from across the Gulf of Mexico ecosystem into a centralized data repository.


Expedition Marks Twelve Years of Discovery in the Caribbean

Scientists recently completed the twelfth year of a research expedition to map seafloor habitats in the U.S. Caribbean aboard the NOAA Ship Nancy Foster. The researchers mapped nearly 200,000 underwater acres along St. Croix and St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands and completed 35 remotely operated vehicle dives. They identified three seamounts (underwater mountains) rising 25 meters off the seafloor. They also discovered a deep-water snapper assembly along the shelf break of St. Thomas. The collected data will be used to help resource managers and lawmakers better understand and manage this critically important region. Data will also be used to update NOAA nautical charts. The mission included outreach to the territory’s newly elected delegate and governor as well as local lawmakers. Scientists also hosted a coral reef education program for dozens of students. NCCOS led the work with funding from CRCP.


Comparison Matrix Guides California Users to Sea Level Rise Tools

The rapid growth of sea level rise tools and models led several organizations focused on climate change to provide a one-stop source of information for coastal managers and planners. The online Tools Comparison Matrix - California highlights key features and differences among sea level rise tools, and allows users to download the matrix or embed it on their own websites. NOAA, The Nature Conservancy, Climate Central, and other key partners developed the matrix following a tool developers’ workshop in California last spring. Climate Central hosts the resource and is working with NOAA to add additional state and regional tools for all coastal states.


NOAA Technical Report Finds Gulf of Mexico HAB Forecasts to be Highly Accurate

According to a new NOAA technical report, Harmful Algal Bloom Operational Forecast System (HAB-OFS) bulletins issued for the Gulf of Mexico that predicted “moderate-” to “high-level” respiratory irritation had the highest accuracy and reliability of all issued forecasts. These types of forecasts have the greatest potential to protect public health. NOAA has issued HAB-OFS bulletins since October 2010, providing the western Gulf with forecasts for Karenia brevis, a harmful alga that may cause fish kills and respiratory distress in people. The report evaluated HAB-OFS bulletins issued for Texas from October 1, 2010, to April 30, 2014. The results will be used to guide enhancements to the operational forecast system.


Location of WWII-era Aircraft Carrier USS Independence Confirmed

ONMS and NOAA’s Office of Exploration and Research, together with private industry partners, confirmed the location and condition of the WWII-era aircraft carrier USS Independence in a portion of Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary managed by Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary (GFNMS). Resting upright at 2,600 feet depth off California’s Farallon Islands, the vessel's hull and flight deck are clearly visible in 3-D sonar images, with what appears to be a plane in the hangar bay. The Independence was the lead ship of its class of light aircraft carriers, which were critical during the U.S. naval offensive in the Pacific. The ship was scuttled off the San Francisco coast in 1951. The work is part of a two-year mission to locate, map, and study the area's historic shipwrecks, of which theIndependence is one of an estimated 300. It is the deepest known shipwreck in the sanctuary.


Delivering Data for Precision Navigation at Ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles

The increased size of vessels entering U.S. ports, resulting in navigation with tighter margins in relation to the seafloor, has spurred development of new products to assist pilots and shipping companies as they plan for heavier loads, deeper drafts, and more profitability. Earlier this month, OCS released the first prototype of high-resolution bathymetric overlays for electronic navigational charts of the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. Navigational software manufacturers can use the data to pursue innovative ways to provide visual portrayals of real-time and future depths in relation to tides. OCS is working with the Jacobsen Pilot Service of Long Beach as it evaluates the products.

Contact: CAPT

New Geoid Model for Better Determination of Heights with Respect to Mean Sea Level

NGS produced a new geoid model, GEOID12B, to replace the previous GEOID12A model. GEIOD12B is a height transformation model for surveyors, engineers, and others involved in water flow and the determination of heights with respect to mean sea level. The geoid is a complex mathematical model used to measure surface elevations with extreme accuracy. GEOID12B is implemented in GPS manufacturer software. By providing a means for more accurate elevation determination, GEOID12B assists those involved in floodplain management, coastal and emergency response, port operations, and river/stream flow monitoring. In combination with GPS technology, GEOID12B makes more accurate heights obtainable anywhere in the United States.


Digital Elevation Models Improved by Innovative Measurement of Coastal Marsh Elevation

Coastal marsh elevation, which is necessary to predict impacts of sea level rise and periodic flooding from storm surge, is commonly measured by remote sensing methods that overestimate the marsh platform height. NCCOS and OCM worked with the University of Central Florida to develop a mechanism to address the inaccuracy, which is caused by dense vegetation. Topographic elevations were checked with benchmarks set by the NOAA National Geodetic Survey.  Remote sensing data was provided, in part, by OCM. The study, conducted at NOAA’s Apalachicola National Estuarine Research Reserve, found that combining passive satellite optical imagery and data from active remote sensing explained more variation in vegetation height and density than did either data source alone. The adjusted estimates can decrease the error associated with LIDAR digital elevation models by up to 49 percent. The adjusted digital elevation models will increase the accuracy of decision tools for coastal planning and flood preparation. Research findings were published in the journal Remote Sensing.


NOS Assistant Administrator

NOS Acting Assistant Administrator
Dr. Russell Callender

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There are many ways to address pollution issues in the environment. Marie DeLorenzo looks to the organisms that live in affected areas to show her the way to repair the damage. Read about her efforts this week.

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