NOS Assistant Administrator Weekly Update

Hi everyone,

Congratulations to Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary! Last week, the Office of National Marine Sanctuaries released a final rule and environmental impact statement expanding the boundaries of the sanctuary from 448 square miles to 4,300 square miles.

The expansion of the sanctuary, which is located in Lake Huron, was driven by strong public support and based on several years of research. The expanded sanctuary now protects an additional 100 known and suspected historic shipwreck sites.

Many thanks to all of those involved in this outstanding example of place-based conservation and the value of our sanctuaries to local communities. Learn more about the expansion here.

Thank you,

Holly A. Bamford, Ph.D.
Assistant Administrator for Ocean Services and Coastal
Zone Management, National Ocean Service

What is nuisance flooding?

Nuisance flooding has increased on all three U.S. coasts between 300 and 925 percent since the 1960s. As relative sea level increases, it no longer takes a strong storm or a hurricane to cause coastal flooding. Flooding now occurs with high tides in many locations due to climate-related sea level rise, land subsidence, and the loss of natural barriers. So what exactly is nuisance flooding? Learn more with this Ocean Fact.

Around NOS

CO-OPS Engineering Division Test Deploys Offshore Tidal Measurement System for Arctic Applications

CO-OPS recently completed the test installation of an infrastructure-free, offshore tidal measurement system near the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel (CBBT) to simulate real-time water level applications in remote Arctic regions of Alaska. The system consists of a surface communications buoy and a bottom mounted pressure, conductivity, and temperature sensor. The surface buoy component adds a meteorological station and real-time data telemetry. The bottom mount transmits real-time conductivity, temperature, and pressure data to the buoy via an underwater acoustic modem. For Arctic areas of interest, the surface buoy component is suitable for short-term applications, such as hydrographic and V-datum support, or seasonal navigational support. The real-time field test is planned to run for 60 days. This test will provide critical environmental intelligence for use in a priority location, the Arctic. 

For more information, contact

Scientists, Partners, Public Prioritize Marine Resources of Washington's Olympic Coast

In preparation for future management and research investments, scientists from NCCOS and ONMS have collected information from regional stakeholders and members of the public regarding Washington's Olympic Coast. Through focus groups, scientists learned from the general public which natural resources are most highly valued by residents of Washington. Additionally, scientists met with federal, state, tribal, and local partners to develop mapping tools that can be used by natural resource managers, stakeholders, and the general public to provide information that can be to identify and prioritize marine areas for sea floor mapping. Both efforts will continue to collect scientific, social, and economic data to support future management and research investments. These products support place-based management of local, regional and NOAA trust resources.

For more information, contact

Completion of Post-Sandy Airborne Gravity, Topo-bathy LIDAR Data Collection in Support of Coastal Resilience and Response Efforts

This week, NGS completed airborne gravity data collection in areas impacted by post-tropical cyclone Sandy, with more than 275,600 square miles surveyed over the East Coast. NGS' airborne topographic-bathymetric ("topo-bathy") light detection and ranging (LIDAR) data and imagery acquisition is also complete and covers ~2,654 square miles of shoreline. Results from airborne gravity data collection will help NGS better determine heights above sea level. Accurate heights are critical to predicting the extent of flooding from storm surge and also allow us to predict where water will flow as the flooding dissipates. The new vertical reference surface (datum) supplied by the gravity portion of the project will correct errors of approximately 20 inches on average—an error that could result in thousands of acres of inundation if incorrectly predicted. Topo-bathy LIDAR data will be used to update the shoreline, NOAA nautical charts, and NOAA's sea level-rise and coastal flooding impacts viewer tool, and to better monitor changes in coastal areas.

Contact Monica.Youngman@noaa or

Mission – Aransas Reserve Improves Freshwater Management in South Texas

The state of Texas is adding $2 million to continue freshwater inflow studies, with $300,000 going to the Mission – Aransas National Estuarine Research Reserve. Inflow studies are needed to address the greatly reduced amount of freshwater that Texas estuaries receive because of growing water demand and persistent drought. A workshop sponsored by this reserve played a pivotal role in the initiative, as participants from government and public sectors learned how to use mapping tools and modeling techniques to examine future freshwater inflow scenarios. Through the workshops, the reserve has helped raise public understanding on the impact of land use and climate change on water usage while improving decision-makers' ability to manage freshwater resources. Information on this project, completed with funding from the research reserve system's Science Collaborative, is available online.

For more information, contact

Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary Celebrates Expansion

On Sept. 5, NOAA released a final rule and environmental impact statement expanding the boundaries of Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary in Lake Huron from 448 square miles to 4,300 square miles. A product of nearly seven years of scientific research and stakeholder input, the boundary expansion extends federal protection to an additional 100 known and suspected historic shipwreck sites. The expansion sanctuary was driven by strong support from Alpena and other northeast Michigan communities. In celebration of this historic achievement, the sanctuary hosted more than 200 people at a community appreciation day on Sept. 6 at NOAA's Great Lakes Maritime Heritage Center featuring fun activities and special guests including Senator Carl Levin, Dr. Jane Lubchenco, and Dr. Robert Ballard.

For more information, contact

Collaborating to Develop a Data Collection Tool for Shoreline Surveys

On Aug. 28, OR&R's Emergency Response Division responders, managers, and developers met with oil spill responders from the California Office of Spill Prevention and Response and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in Sacramento, California. The meeting kicked off a collaboration to develop a new handheld Shoreline Cleanup and Assessment Technique (SCAT) data collection tool. The new mobile-friendly tool will integrate field data collection with GPS information in a state-of-the-art GIS and telecommunications system. Each organization has assigned personnel to a steering committee that will define the data standards, operational requirements, and a development pathway. Initial plans are to deliver the new tool to the response community before the International Oil Spill Conference in 2017. When completed, this tool will greatly improve the speed and accuracy of field data collection during oil spills.

For more information, contact

NOS Assistant Administrator

NOS Assistant Administrator
Dr. Holly Bamford

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