March 21, 2013
This month, we celebrate the contributions of women of every race and ethnic background during National Women's History Month. I can't think of a better way to capture the role of women in NOAA than this year's theme, "Women Inspiring Innovation Through Imagination: Celebrating Women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics."
The contributions of women to our organization have been far-reaching. I'd like to highlight the influence of two women in particular, Rear Admiral Evelyn J. Fields and Dr. Nancy Foster.
Rear Admiral Evelyn J. Fields was the director of NOAA Marine and Aviation Operations and director of the NOAA Commissioned Officer Corps from 1999-2002. She was the first woman and the first African American to serve in the position. She was also the first woman to command a NOAA ship, the McArthur. Prior to her confirmation as director of the NOAA Corps, she was NOS's deputy assistant administrator. RADM Fields began her NOAA career as a civilian cartographer in 1977 and was a pioneer in workplace diversity, equal employment opportunities for women and minorities, and the mentoring of youth in science and engineering. She continues her service to NOS today as a member of the Hydrographic Services Review Panel.
Dr. Nancy Foster was NOS's assistant administrator from 1997-2000. She was a noted marine biologist who spent nine years as the deputy director and then director of the National Marine Sanctuaries Program and the National Estuarine Research Reserve Program. In April 2000, Vice President Al Gore wrote that Dr. Foster had "pioneered an impressive national strategy for environmental management and served as an outstanding role model for women scientists across America." Her legacy includes the NOAA R/V Dr. Nancy Foster, the Dr. Nancy Foster Florida Keys Environmental Center, and the Dr. Nancy Foster Scholarship Program. Dr. Foster passed away in June 2000.
These women exemplify character, commitment to mission, and passion for NOS programs. I witness the same qualities among the men and women who work at NOS every day. I am grateful to be part of such an impressive organization.
Holly A. Bamford, Ph.D.
National Ocean Service
On the latest Making Waves podcast, watch a video about marine protected areas in North America produced by the Commission for Environmental Cooperation, a partnership between the U.S., Canada, and Mexico.
This week, a field team from the Center for Operational Oceanographic Products and Services reinstalled a water level station to continuously monitor the tides and meteorological conditions in Apra Harbor, Guam. The station was removed in 2011 to accommodate a major shoreline project. A temporary station collected data in the interim while plans were made to design a new station to withstand tsunamis, storm surges, and typhoons in an area that is prone to extreme weather events and frequent seismic activity. The water level station—too far west to communicate with NOAA's GOES satellite—relies on a combination of earth- and satellite-based communications to ensure reliability during local major weather events. This station provides important water level and weather information for decision-making by the U.S. Military, the National Weather Services' West Coast and Alaska Tsunami Warning Centers, commercial shipping, and the general population on Guam. For more information, contact Rolin Meyer.
On March 11, a team of specially trained staff responded to an entangled male humpback whale near Lahaina in the waters of NOAA's Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary, saving the animal from a potentially life-threatening predicament. In total, two buoys and more than 200 feet of line were recovered. Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary led the response effort, working under NOAA's Marine Mammal Health and Stranding Response Program and in close cooperation with the National Marine Fisheries Service. Additional partners included the U.S. Coast Guard, NOAA Corps, Kaho'olawe Island Reserve Commission, West Maui Rapid Response Team, MacGillivray Freeman Films (currently filming an IMAX film on humpback whales), researchers, several tour and charter boat companies, and many others. This was the first successful disentanglement of the 2012/2013 whale season. For more information, contact Christine Brammer.
On March 18, NOAA released the Tank Barge (T/B) DBL 152 Draft Damage Assessment and Restoration Plan for a 2005 oil spill about 50 miles offshore in the Gulf of Mexico. It outlines environmental injuries resulting from the nearly two million gallons of oil spilled as well as proposed restoration to compensate the public for those injuries to natural resources and services. The oil was released from T/B DBL 152 as it was travelling from Houston, Texas, to Tampa, Fla. While in transit, the barge struck the submerged remains of a pipeline service platform that collapsed a few months earlier during Hurricane Rita. After towing it toward land, the barge grounded 30 miles from shore, releasing more oil and eventually capsizing. The proposed restoration includes shoreline protection and salt marsh creation at the Texas Chenier Plain National Wildlife Refuge Complex in Galveston Bay. Public comment on the T/B DBL 152 Damage Assessment and Restoration Plan can be submitted by mail or electronically through April 15, 2013. For more information, contact Shannon Yee.
A species of algae responsible for red tides plaguing Gulf coast communities protects itself by becoming highly toxic when it's hungry and vulnerable to being eaten by predators, say scientists from NOAA's National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science and North Carolina State University. The red tide organism reacts to low levels of nutrients–particularly phosphorus–by using its remaining energy to make itself several times more toxic than it usually is, in order to guard itself from microorganisms that would eat it in its weakened state. The paper's authors say that the findings could improve predictions about how toxic a nearby bloom is based on phosphorus readings so that local public health officials can close shellfish beds or prepare warnings for beachgoers. The paper appears in the latest edition of the journal PLOS ONE. For more information, contact Rance Hardison.
Last week, the Northwest Association of Networked Ocean Observing Systems (NANOOS), a regional U.S. IOOS member, released the latest version of the NANOOS Visualization System (NVS) in a user-friendly format for tablets, smartphones, and other devices. NVS provides users with a simple interface to access observations, forecasts, and satellite overlays from a wide range of ocean and coastal assets. The new format eases data access, saves time and money to program and design apps in the future, and allows NANOOS to develop applications tailored to meet specific user needs. For more information, contact Jenifer Rhoades.
The Tampa Weather Forecast Office recently brought together representatives from environmental and safety organizations to learn how they use weather information in their operations. These stakeholders helped inform NOAA's Weather-Ready Nation pilot project in Tampa. Attendees included the Fish and Wildlife Commission, Department of Environmental Protection, Department of Health, Coast Guard, Tampa Bay Water, area estuary programs, Florida Aquarium, Mote Marine Lab, National Marine Fisheries Service, and the National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science. NOAA Coastal Services Center staff members provided meeting design and facilitation. This stakeholder meeting informs the Weather-Ready Nation Tampa pilot project, providing information for the "impacts catalog" and building relationships with area environmental and safety organizations. For more information, contact Heidi Stiller.
Recently, the National Geodetic Survey (NGS) released updated orthometric heights for Southern Louisiana relative to the September 2010 Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) Height Modernization project. These are the most up-to-date heights available for the region. On March 15, NGS hosted a free, online webinar to present the results of this project. The webinar was co-presented by the project manager for the new adjustment to the North American Datum of 1983 who performed the Southern Louisiana project vertical adjustment and the head of research and development of geoid models at NGS. The webinar is part of NGS' ongoing effort to assist users in this particularly dynamic environment, which continues to change positioning references. The webinar provided users with a higher-level explanation of what went into the project, the geoid, the adjustment, and the publishing of data. For more information, contact Denis Riordan.
High school students, representing various aquariums and states throughout the U.S, Canada, and Mexico, attended the Fourth Summit on the Ocean and Coasts in Washington, D.C., last week hosted by the Coastal America Partnership. The multi-day event generates increased awareness of coastal issues and promotes the stewardship of our ocean among young people. Students, accompanied by educators, presented various issues tied to their local Coastal America Learning Center and the Ocean Literacy Essential Principles and Fundamental Concepts. They also gave presentations featuring their research on posters and videos to a panel of federal experts. The Summit also gave students an opportunity to interact and work together to create a group proclamation to present to the Administration and Congress that expressed their stewardship goals. For more information, contact Ralph Cantral.
The U.S. Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS®) program office is compiling the results of a successful joint planning session with the IOOS Regional Associations, held in Silver Spring last week. This meeting is the first annual U.S. IOOS regional meeting to focus entirely on joint planning between the U.S. IOOS program office and the IOOS regions and represents a significant step forward in the maturity of the national system. The meeting focused modeling, subsurface monitoring, extreme risks/storms, and ocean acidification. The meeting also included two successful partner engagement sessions: the first with NOAA's Center for Operational Oceanographic Products and Services and NOAA's National Data Buoy Center; and the second with NOAA's Ocean Acidification Program and NOAA's National Oceanographic Data Center. Presentations from the meeting are available online. For more information, contact Gabrielle Canonico.
International mariners entering U.S. waters around southwestern Florida now have a new international (INT) nautical chart to help ease their transit. The new chart, INT4148, has the same information as Chart 11420, Havana to Tampa Bay, but the depictions are converted to the metric system (U.S. charts use either feet or fathoms for depth measurements) in addition to symbol modifications. Starting in April, INT4148 will be printed on the reverse side of NOAA Chart 11420. They will soon be available as a print-on-demand chart. The International Hydrographic Organization encourages countries to publish INT charts for navigation safety and so neighboring countries can compare or compile the information for their domestic nautical charts. For more information, contact John Nyberg.
NOAA recently added new resources to its Coastal Smart Growth website to help planning officials, private practitioners, and others learn more about hazard mitigation and how they can achieve hazard resilient smart growth. The resources, which include background information, "how-to" guides, and case studies, are organized into four categories: integrating hazard mitigation into community planning; hazard mitigation planning; disaster recovery planning (planning before and after a disaster occurs); and general resources. The resources supplement the 2012 NOAA and EPA report, "Achieving Hazard-Resilient Coastal and Waterfront Smart Growth." These additional resources are very timely, particularly with the growing attention given to community resilience following Superstorm Sandy. For more information, contact Randall Schneider or Kenneth Walker.