March 28, 2013
Given the uncertain budget climate, it's tempting to focus only on the short term. Yet, I see examples every day of just how forward-looking our programs are. We're planning for greater demands on our country's marine transportation system. We're helping coastal communities become more resilient to hazards in the future. We're protecting our nation's cultural and marine heritage for generations to come. Each of us is working to meet today's needs with an eye to tomorrow's challenges.
Here's just one example. In 2007, National Geodetic Survey (NGS) published a plan for the Gravity for the Redefinition of the American Vertical Datum (GRAV-D) Project. NGS is responsible for providing the foundational information for all federal mapping activities in the nation. This project will allow surveyors and scientists to employ GPS to determine more precise and accurate elevations than are currently possible. With the current vertical datum, elevation errors can range from 16 inches to 6 feet relative to sea level. Once the GRAV-D airborne survey is completed and the new vertical datum is released, elevations accessed through NOAA's Continuously Operating Reference Station (CORS) network will be accurate to within one inch, resulting in improved inundation mapping, better monitoring of sea level, and more accurate heights for the surveying community in support of the construction of highways, bridges, and suburban development, among other improvements.
In all, this effort will take about 15 years to complete. The project is on schedule, within budget, and recently passed a significant milestone of completing data collection for more than 25 percent of the United States and territories. That's an impressive achievement and yet another example of how we are meeting our mission today and for the future.
Holly A. Bamford, Ph.D.
National Ocean Service
Today on Diving Deeper, learn about how marine debris moves in our environment in this interview with Sherry Lippiatt from the NOAA Marine Debris Program.
Efforts to remove a large dock that beached on a remote shore within the boundaries of Olympic National Park and NOAA's Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary in December 2012 were completed successfully last week. In January, the Japanese government confirmed that the dock had been washed into the Pacific Ocean during the tsunami that hit the country in March 2011. Salvage of the dock from this wilderness area was considered essential to remove the huge volume of foamed plastic contained in the structure before significant amounts were released to the marine environment. In addition, the dock posed a threat to human safety, including confined space issues in empty holds and potential for further intertidal habitat damage if it shifted position during storms. The cost for removal was paid for by NOAA's Office of National Marine Sanctuaries, the national park, and funds provided to NOAA by the government of Japan. For more information, contact George Galasso.
New England coastal communities should prepare for a "moderate" red tide this spring and summer, according to NOS-funded scientists from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. This forecast is based on samples of algal cysts ("seeds") taken from the ocean floor last year as indicators of this season's bloom severity. The team also used 34 years of historical data to further refine their model this year. The Gulf of Maine "red tide" is caused by an alga called Alexandrium that produces a highly potent toxin responsible for paralytic shellfish poisoning in people and wildlife eating the shellfish that feed on the algae. This year's outlook is similar to 2012. NOAA plans to transition both the seasonal and weekly forecasts from research to the NOAA HAB Operational Forecasting System run by the Center for Operational Oceanographic Products and Services. For more information, contact Quay Dortch.
The National Geodetic Survey expedited new shoreline data to the Office of Coast Survey Marine Chart Division (MCD) to portray critical shoreline changes within the new edition of Chart 12222 (Chesapeake Bay, Cape Charles to Norfolk Harbor). The need for expedited data was communicated to NGS by MCD when chart compilers discovered dramatic changes to Northend Point in Back River, Va.—a small but navigationally significant area—shortly before the chart was due to go to print. NGS was able to provide the requested shoreline updates within nine days of being notified, in order to meet the deadline and allow the release of the new edition in April. For more information, contact Mike Espey.
This week, NOAA released The National Coastal Population Report: Population Trends from 1970 to 2020 – a report describing the nation's coastal population with Census 2010 data, compiled in partnership with the U.S. Census Bureau. This report is an update and expansion to a previous report that detailed trends from 1980 to 2008 that was released in 2004. NOAA, as well as other federal partners, has historically reported population in the Coastal Watershed Counties to provide context for coastal water quality and coastal ecosystem health related issues. In this new report, NOAA has added Coastal Shoreline Counties, a shoreline-adjacent subset of the Coastal Watershed Counties that are better suited to address coastal resilience and coastal hazard issues. The addition of Coastal Shoreline Counties provides coastal managers an option to choose appropriate contextual demographic statistics that best suit their needs. This report is available on the State of the Coast website. For more information, contact Kristen Crossett.
NOAA has partnered with chemical industry experts from the Dow Chemical Company to release a significant update to a free software program used to prevent dangerous chemical incidents and help protect emergency workers responding to hazardous chemical spills. The software, known as the Chemical Reactivity Worksheet, predicts potential hazards from mixing chemicals. This newest version of the program is the result of a two-year-long collaboration between NOAA chemical response specialists, technical experts at Dow, and partners at the Center for Chemical Process Safety. For more information, contact Jim Farr.
The final course in the successful series of coastal geographic information system (GIS) trainings offered by NOAA's Coastal Services Center was recently given at the Mission-Aransas National Estuarine Research Reserve. The Center has provided introductory GIS training specifically designed for coastal issues since 1998 and has trained over 2,544 coastal professionals on how to use GIS. Although this course has been very successful, the need for classroom-based introductory GIS training has decreased over the years as GIS has become more familiar in coastal management offices and as online training has become more effective. The Center will continue to provide technology-based courses on coastal issues and on line training and guidance in the use of geospatial data and tools. For more information, contact Mary Culver.
To assist with the post Sandy recovery efforts, the Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management and the NOAA Coastal Services Center have been supporting the Natural and Cultural Resources (NCR) Recovery Support Functions (RSF) team at the New York Joint Field Office (JFO), which is a temporary multi-agency office located in Queens, N.Y. The current work is focused on development of the Recovery Support Strategy (RSS), which provides a unified strategy or approach that federal agencies will use to support state and local recovery efforts. The NCR Strategy includes four themes: beach and dune restoration, resilient ecosystem recovery, resilient waterfront recovery, and resilient cultural and historic resources. The NCR RSF team has been meeting with key federal, state, and local partners, such as the New York Department of State, NOAA Marine Debris Program, and The Surfrider Foundation to get input on their approaches. JFO staff anticipates a mid-April release of the Draft RSS to key state and local partners. For more information, contact Kenneth Walker.
This week, Rear Admiral Gerd Glang, director of the Office of Coast Survey (OCS), and an OCS hydrographic expert represented NOAA at the US Hydro 2013 Conference, presented by the Hydrographic Society of America. Glang opened the conference with a keynote address and OCS staff presented multiple papers on behalf of NOAA authors. US Hydro 2013 is a continuation of a series of hydrographic conferences that alternate between the United States and Canada. Participants from universities, private industry, and governmental agencies share information on emerging technologies while exploring new applications and practices that will ultimately support the maritime economy. For more information, contact Mike Brown.