NOS Assistant Administrator Weekly Update

Congratulations to the following people from the National Ocean Service who were selected to participate in NOAA’s Leadership Competencies Development Program: Kim Jenkins; Terence Lynch; Catherine Marzin; Jessica Snowden; Jessica White; and Ian Zelo. This competitive 18-month leadership development program provides cross-organizational training and developmental experiences. I am the “executive sponsor” for this team and look forward to working with them as they continue their leadership journey.

I would also like to congratulate the Office for Coastal Management (OCM) for its outstanding work with the City of Charleston to support resilience in the face of sea level rise. OCM used its Sea Level Rise Viewer’s flood projection maps, digital elevation models, and realistic visualizations to show city planners and engineers how local streets, landmarks, and infrastructure would be affected if sea level were to rise an additional 1-3 feet. City planners incorporated the information into a proposed sea level rise strategy. The Charleston City Council recently approved the strategy, and the mayor is convening a team to address its implementation.

Carolee Williams, project manager for the City of Charleston in the Department of Planning, Preservation, and Sustainability said, “NOAA’s data, tools, and technical assistance played a critical role in helping our officials to ‘see’ the problem and move ahead on a sea level rise strategy.”

It’s great to see how our efforts directly support a community’s decisions to ensure coastal resilience!

Thank you,

W. Russell Callender, Ph.D.
Assistant Administrator
Ocean Services and Coastal Zone Management,
National Ocean Service
P.S. Did you receive an invitation to complete the Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey? Check your email for the subject line “2016 Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey - Empowering Employees, Inspiring Change.” If you receive this email, follow the instructions to complete the survey. Here are three reasons why it’s a good idea.

How are nautical charts updated and how are we using new technologies?

Interested in how nautical charts are updated? Here’s what you need to know in about three minutes.

Around NOS

NOS-Authored Paper Recognized for ‘Innovation in Science Sustainability’

This week, the Ecological Society of America gave its Innovation in Science Sustainability Award to the paper titled “Future of our coasts: The potential for natural and hybrid infrastructure to enhance the resilience of our coastal communities, economies and ecosystems,” by Ariana Sutton-Grier, PhD, of NOS, and Katya Wowk, PhD, and Holly Bamford, PhD, both formerly of NOS. The paper was published in the August 2015 issue of the journal Environmental Science & Policy (51: 137–148). The award recognizes authors of a peer-reviewed paper that exemplifies leading-edge work on solution pathways to sustainability challenges. Post-Tropical Cyclone Sandy brought unprecedented attention to building resilience of coastal communities and ecosystems to the growing threats of storm surge and erosion. This led to a focus on how both “natural” and “hybrid” infrastructure incorporating both natural and engineered features can increase coastal protection.  The paper reveals how the integration of ecological and social science can inform and increase the sustainable management of coastal ecosystems worldwide.


Gulf of Maine Red Tide Monitoring Season Begins

Harmful algal bloom (HAB) monitoring is underway in the Gulf of Maine, with three Environmental Sample Processors (ESPs) providing near real-time early warning of toxic blooms.  The autonomous, in situ sensors detect cells and toxins produced by the red tide alga Alexandrium fundyense. Early warning can help prevent outbreaks of paralytic shellfish poisoning, a serious illness that can occur in people who eat contaminated shellfish. Data from the ESPs are used by Maine, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts shellfish monitoring programs, reported by Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, and shared with partners via e-mail and the Northeast Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning website. This is the third year that NOAA has supported the ESP HAB network in the Gulf of Maine.  Similar HAB sensors are being developed for the State of Washington and for Lake Erie, as part of a NOAA ecological forecasting initiative to support accurate, timely, and reliable ecological forecasts for coastal managers.


Training for MPA Managers in the Philippines

NOAA led a training for marine protected area (MPA) managers in the Philippines to help them strengthen their management effectiveness. Topics included marine invertebrates and fish, habitat connections to upland watershed processes, and identifying conservation targets and threats. An additional “train the trainers” workshop assisted mentors in the role of guiding and leading when NOAA’s role concludes in 3-5 years. The training was made possible by a Memorandum of Agreement between the U.S. Agency for International Development and NOAA through CRCP and ONMS’s International Marine Protected Areas Capacity Building Team.


Site Survey to Improve International Terrestrial Reference Frame

An NGS team is conducting a site survey at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in Pie Town, NM. The team is establishing, to a very high level of precision, the locations of two geodetic instruments (a Very Long Baseline Array antenna station and a Global Navigation Satellite System tracking station). The data will be used to improve the accuracy of the International Terrestrial Reference Frame (ITRF)—the global coordinate system that defines latitude, longitude, height, scale, gravity, and orientation. The ITRF is a key element in monitoring plate tectonics, measuring subsidence (land sinking) and uplift, providing consistent navigation systems, and determining rates of sea level rise.


Tropical Cyclone Data Help Planners Understand Damaging Winds

New data on help planners understand how tropical cyclones can impair offshore infrastructure or interrupt commerce and marine operations. The data include storm “track lines” and also indicate how often an area has experienced wind events of specific intensities. An accompanying story map explains how the data sets were developed. Planners will be able to use tropical cyclone exposure data to better understand the susceptibility of marine waters and offshore activities to damaging winds. The data can be viewed along with other marine planning data sets.


Exploring a Deep Canyon in Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary

A team of experts from the College of Charleston, University of Washington, and Oregon State University contributed to the NOAA-led, multi-disciplinary survey of Quinault Canyon in Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary. The survey gathered data for a host of research projects and ocean management activities, including swath bathymetry, acoustic backscatter, and water column data. The mission revealed rocky outcrops along the canyon rim and a remarkable number of methane plumes throughout the water column, setting the stage for future ground-truthing surveys by remotely operated vehicles. Researchers plan to further investigate methane releases at various depths and the presence of habitats for living organisms on the deep canyon’s previously unmapped ridges.


Marine Debris Program Participates in Inaugural ‘DOC Talks’ Event

NOAA’s Marine Debris Program (MDP) participated in the inaugural “DOC Talks” event hosted by the U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC). The event included 22 speakers from throughout DOC who shared stories about “how they help” as public servants. Held during Public Service Recognition Week, the event recognized the hard work and positive impact of DOC employees around the globe. MDP’s presentation was chosen from more than 150 submissions. View the MDP presentation and other inspiring “DOC Talks” stories on YouTube.


Updates on Sea Level Trend Information

CO-OPS updated its sea level trend information, which coastal communities can use to determine how water levels are rising in their areas and better prepare for what the future may hold. Sea level trends are computed at tide stations that have been collecting water level information for at least 30 years. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency uses CO-OPS trends data in its climate change indicators for sea levels. Fifty-year trends for 1965-2014, centered on 1990, were also calculated and are posted online.


NOS Assistant Administrator

NOS Assistant Administrator
Dr. Russell Callender

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