When I was asked the question "Is Black History Month still relevant?” I immediately responded, “Absolutely!” Black History Month is about so much more than the few pioneers who are mentioned in the schools every Black History Month, like Frederick Douglass, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Harriet Tubman. These people made exceptional contributions, but there are so many more, like Vivian Malone Jones (one of the first two African Americans to enroll at the University of Alabama, and a pioneer in environmental justice at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency) and Otis Boykin (inventor of the artificial heart pacemaker control unit). Until the depth and breadth of the contributions of Black Americans and other minority groups are fully recognized and reflected in American history, there will be a need for Black History Month.
While we are living in an era in which progress has been made—my parents didn’t foresee the election of the first black President in their lifetimes—just watching the news demonstrates daily that there is still so much work to be done. Better awareness and appreciation of the ways all races and ethnicities have forged our history and culture, and the injustices they have endured in the process, allow each of us an opportunity to be more insightful participants in a global society.
Here we are, 90 years after the creation of Black History Week by African American author and historian Carter G. Woodson, and we are asking ourselves, “Is Black History Month Still Relevant?” My answer is “Yes!”
Business Services Group Chief
Office of Response and Restoration
Learn what the Forchhammer’s Principle is—and what this device measures—in our latest Ocean Fact.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS), through the Homeland Security Information Network, relied on OCS's nowCOAST web map services to enhance its Super Bowl 50 security support. The agency used the site to access maps of near-real-time NOAA products, including GOES cloud imagery and surface wind forecasts. DHS uses multiple nowCOAST web map services for its daily operations, but since Super Bowl 50 was a National Special Security Event, the agency worked with NOAA to ensure access through true HTTPS (Secure Socket Layers over HTTP).
Scientists working with the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument announced the discovery of four new species of deep-water algae in Hawaii. The species were sampled in the Monument by NOAA divers using advanced scuba technologies, and during expeditions in the Main Hawaiian Islands using submersibles operated by the Hawaii Undersea Research Laboratory. Scientists consulted with the Native Hawaiian community to develop meaningful names for the new species to honor the great importance of algae in Hawaiian culture. As an example, one species was named Ulva iliohaha, which refers to the foraging behavior of ʻīlioholoikauaua, the endangered Hawaiian monk seal—one of the Monument’s best-known inhabitants. The study describing the new species is the cover story in the latest issue of the Journal of Phycology.
At the annual Marianas Tourism Education Council Tourism Summit in Saipan, CRCP staff played an interactive game with students that highlighted the ecological importance of plant-eating fish. Saipan-based staff also challenged the 175 students from the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands to spend more time snorkeling and thinking about the ecological importance of the fish they encounter. The summit emphasizes the ocean as an important local tourist attraction. Speakers included Palau President Tommy Remengesau, Jr., a global leader in environmental conservation.
During last month’s historic East Coast snowstorm, water levels at four CO-OPS tide stations set new water level records, with two water levels breaking records set during Post-tropical Cyclone Sandy. CO-OPS issued QuickLook, a product that provides water level information in real time along the path of a coastal storm. Though typically only issued for tropical cyclones, Quicklook was initiated for the January snowstorm and updated every 12 hours. The Weather Channel broadcasted the CO-OPS water level data to make viewers aware of rising waters along the coast. Based on preliminary observations, records were broken at Wachapreague, Virginia; Ship John Shoal, New Jersey; Cape May, New Jersey; and Lewes, Delaware. The maximum storm surge was observed at Wachapreague, reaching 5.46 feet above tide predictions, and the maximum storm tide was observed at Lewes, reaching 4.62 feet above Mean Higher High Water and breaking the record set in March 1962.
NGS collected oblique imagery along the East Coast from Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, to Montauk, New York, after the recent blizzard and heavy rain to assess impacts to several NOS mission areas, including navigation and coastal zone management. Imagery collected using NOAA’s coastal mapping aircraft is available on the Coastal Imagery Viewer. Baseline imagery from 2015 is also available on the site for comparison purposes. Oblique imagery—images taken at an angle rather than straight down—covers wider areas and improves the visibility of vertical structures like the sides of buildings.
The director and the regional coordinator of NOAA’s Marine Debris Program (MDP) recently met at the Tijuana River National Estuarine Research Reserve (NERR) to visit the site of a community-based removal project funded by the MDP. A massive amount of trash and larger debris washes into the Reserve from Mexico, adding to impacts from sedimentation and sewage pollution in the Tijuana River Valley. With support from MDP, the Reserve, the Southwest Wetlands Interpretive Association, California State Parks, and NGO partners are working to remove debris from the area and prevent future accumulation. The tour included visits to areas where debris accumulates, trash collection booms, and the sorting pad where trash and debris are separated from excavated sediment before being hauled off for use in construction projects.
The poorest communities are often those most heavily impacted by climate impacts such as flooding, drought, and sea level rise. In January, OCM led the Federal Resilience Fair, where 10 federal agencies highlighted resources and training to assist the first group of Resilience AmeriCorp VISTA volunteers. Over the next year, the 20 volunteers will bring their passion for community service to 10 U.S. cities to tackle resilience issues in poverty-stricken areas. Participants included city sponsors in addition to the volunteers. NOAA highlighted the Digital Coast, Climate Resilience Toolkit, and Environmental Literacy Grants.
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