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NOS Assistant Administrator Weekly Update


Hi everyone,

The health of our coastal communities, economies, and ecosystems depend upon our understanding of complex and constantly changing conditions. A key way we are addressing these challenges is by advancing ecological forecasting. Much like a weather forecast helps communities, businesses, and citizens make decisions, an ecological forecast provides information that helps decision makers prepare for and respond to changes in ecosystems. In the case of ecological forecasting, changes are driven by environmental drivers such as climate variability, extreme weather conditions, pollution, or habitat change.

For more than a decade, our programs have been developing experimental forecasts in areas such as pathogens, hypoxia, sea level change, and distributions of habitat and key species, as well as operational harmful algal bloom forecasts. NOS plays a vital role in advancing ecological forecasting. But we can't do it alone. Last week, I joined leaders from all NOAA Line Offices at NOAA's Center for Weather and Climate Prediction to discuss progress and next steps related to NOAA's Ecological Forecasting Roadmap. The Roadmap is a plan to deliver coordinated, accurate, and resource-efficient ecological forecast products across our agency.

We are working with our counterparts in the National Weather Service and other parts of NOAA to move forecasts from experimental to operational—and to reach wider audiences with forecast information. Here's just one example. In February 2013, the Tampa Weather Forecast Office released the first-ever NOAA public alert for Red Tide impacts via a Beach Hazards Statement.  By utilizing this broad and effective communications mechanism, visibility of this NOS product increased by over 400 percent!

I would like to thank all of those involved with the advancing the Ecological Forecasting Roadmap.

Thank you,

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

Around NOS

Origin and Mechanism of Texas Red Tides Identified

A study funded by NCCOS has tentatively identified the source and control mechanism of red tides (Karenia brevis) along the Texas coast. The research, led by Texas A&M University, incorporates a suite of linked models combined with data from drifting sensors, satellites, and an automated underwater microscope called a "FlowCytobot." The modeling shows circulation caused by seasonal winds along the Texas coast, not cell growth, as the primary control for presence or absence of blooms. Modeling also suggests that Texas Karenia brevis blooms originate in the southern Gulf of Mexico near the Bay of Campeche and are carried north by currents. Field observations are being conducted to verify model results. The origin and cause of Texas red tides have been an enigma until recently partly due to their less frequent occurrence (every 2–5 years) and subsequent opportunities to investigate when compared with other areas such as Florida where red tides occur almost yearly.

Contact: Quay.Dortch@noaa.gov


NOAA's Paper Nautical Charts Are Here to Stay as New Certified Printing Agents Bring Buying Options

It won't be long before mariners and the boating public will have a wider choice of options and special services when they purchase NOAA paper nautical charts, thanks to Coast Survey's expanded "print-on-demand" chart production and distribution system. Last week, Coast Survey certified five new print-on-demand chart printing agents, and gave them the flexibility to offer different color palettes, various papers, a cleaner margin, and a range of services. NOAA has now authorized seven companies to sell NOAA's paper nautical charts that are printed when the customer orders them or "on demand." The information on the charts is still maintained by NOAA, and the charts are corrected with Notices to Mariners up to the week of purchase.

Contact: CAPT Shep.Smith@noaa.gov


NOAA Partners Deploy New Ocean Observing Equipment at the Bottom of the World

Several regions of IOOS are working together to deploy a coordinated ocean observing network along the Western Antarctic Peninsula to better understand ecological connections. Project CONVERGE, funded by the National Science Foundation Office of Polar Programs, includes partners from Rutgers University, the University of Alaska, Fairbanks, Oregon State University, the University of Delaware, and the Polar Oceans Research Group. The observing network is a multi-platform field study including gliders, animal telemetry, acoustics, and high frequency radar systems. The network will help scientists understand how local oceanographic processes influence the ecosystem. 

Contact: Laura Griesbauer, laura.griesbauer@noaa.gov


Needs Assessment Guide Helps Users Get to the Root of the Issue

In an era of increasingly limited time and resources as well as demands for greater accountability, a needs assessment enables coastal professionals to develop the right solution for the right group, the first time. The online Needs Assessment Guide helps coastal professionals plan and conduct needs assessments—whether large or small, in-house or in collaboration with partners. Each step identified in the guide is accompanied by explanations on the purpose and process involved in that step, questions that should be asked, and case studies explaining how other coastal organizations handled the step.

Contact: Pam.Kylstra@noaa.gov


New Curriculum Teaches the Value of Coastal Blue Carbon

A recently launched high school curriculum, "Bringing Wetlands to Market," provides teachers with tools to demonstrate the critical relationships among climate change, nitrogen pollution, and the economic value of salt marshes. The curriculum was based on recent findings from the Waquoit Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve (NERR) nitrogen and coastal blue carbon research project located in Massachusetts. This research project funded by the NERRS Science Collaborative, examines the relationship between coastal wetlands, carbon dioxide uptake and storage, and the global carbon trading economy. The curriculum and teacher guide help students learn about the research, blue carbon, pressures on wetlands, and how they can be better stewards of coastal wetlands.

Contact: Bree.Murphy@noaa.gov


National Geodetic Survey Representatives Train Louisiana Personnel in Using OPUS-Projects

From April 7-10, NGS representatives trained Louisiana Department of Transportation (LA DOT) personnel in using OPUS Projects. This new online tool gives users access to simple tools for managing and processing geodetic surveying projects. The training provided valuable expertise to the LA DOT, with two Gulf state geodetic advisors providing training to a state that does not have its own geodetic advisor. Since the beginning of FY14, NGS has trained more than 340 people through 20 OPUS Project classes in 11 states and Puerto Rico.

Contact: Denis.Riordan@noaa.gov


Florida Keys Eco-Discovery Center Hosts Annual Ocean Festival

NOAA's Florida Keys Eco-Discovery Center hosted Mote Marine Laboratory's fifth annual Ocean Fest on March 29. Approximately 8,000 attendees visited more than 75 educational booths, exhibits and interpretative displays at the event, which focused on enhancing the appreciation and conservation of our local marine environment and featured local artists and musicians including well-known mural artist Wyland. Families and children took part in educational activities ranging from "ethical angling" fishing clinics to making buttons of their favorite sanctuary sea creatures. More than 3,700 of the attendees passed through the doors of the Eco-Discovery Center, making it the second-highest single-day attendance in the facility's history. Proceeds from the festival will help support Mote's "Protect our Reefs" program and their ambitious coral reef restoration projects within NOAA's Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.

Contact: Todd.Hitchins@noaa.gov


Draft Quassaick Creek Watershed Management Plan Unveiled

On April 2, a public meeting was held in Newburgh, N.Y., to unveil the Draft Quassaick Creek Watershed Management Plan. The Draft Plan has a nexus to NOAA's restoration planning activities within the estuary. NOAA has been investigating numerous barriers to fish passage on the lower Hudson River tributaries including within the Quassaick Creek watershed and provided information to the Quassaick Creek Watershed Alliance during the preparation of the plan. At the meeting, two stream bank erosion projects involving dams were discussed. These are two of the dams that NOAA has identified for removal. The Quassaick Creek is one of sixty-six tributaries to the Lower Hudson River estuary.  For approximately 30 years, beginning in 1947 at Fort Edward and in 1952 at Hudson Falls, New York, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) were discharged into the upper Hudson River by manufacturing plants operated by General Electric Company.

Contact: Lisa.Rosman@noaa.gov


Ecological Forecasting Roadmap
Dr. Holly Bamford joins National Weather Service Assistant Administrator Louis Uccellini at the National Centers for Environmental Prediction

Dr. Holly Bamford joins National Weather Service Assistant Administrator Louis Uccellini at the National Centers for Environmental Prediction to discuss NOAA's Ecological Forecasting Roadmap.

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