September 6, 2012
I've asked Juliana Blackwell, director of the National Geodetic Survey, to take up the pen this week. She has a much more elegant style than me and I appreciate her taking the time to tell us all about the exciting things happening in NGS.
As the director of the National Geodetic Survey (NGS), it's my pleasure to introduce this edition of the NOS Weekly.
At NGS, positioning America for the future IS our business and has been for more than 200 years! Our predecessors understood the importance of knowing "where things are;" geospatial information was vital to the development and prosperity of this country. From the early surveys of charting the coast for safe voyage by sea, to today's reliance on the Global Positioning System (GPS) for positioning and navigation on land, sea, and air, NGS provides the essential framework for consistent positioning across the United States and its territories.
Whether you have a GPS receiver in your phone or car or if you navigate using paper maps or visual signs, it's important to know "where things are" relative to a common, consistent reference system. For many geospatial applications it may not matter if your measurements are off by few feet or meters, but—as is the case with safe and efficient transportation systems, particularly on high-speed roads and railways where vehicles move in close proximity to one another—knowing your position is critical for human safety, and intelligent transportation systems of the future will demand even more precise positioning.
Knowing exactly how much sea level or the land has changed over time-and being able to measure those changes down to the centimeter, and often millimeter level—are national needs that rely on the science of the size and shape of the earth and the accurate positioning of all things, including the GPS satellites!
Visit NGS at: http://geodesy.noaa.gov.
Juliana P. Blackwell, Director
National Geodetic Survey
Want to get involved? The International Coastal Cleanup is just around the corner! On September 15, people from all over the globe will come together to pick up marine debris in the largest one-day volunteer event on behalf of clean oceans and waterways. Learn more: http://go.usa.gov/ryrJ
Within 24 hours of Hurricane Isaac departing the Gulf Coast region, the National Geodetic Survey (NGS) immediately began emergency response aerial surveys with two NOAA aircraft to ensure vital waterways, ports, and coastal infrastructure were safe for maritime commerce. Response flights commenced on Aug. 31, and continued daily until Sept. 3. Images from the surveys were made available on NGS's storms website within six hours of the completion of the first mission and were continuously processed and uploaded as they were collected through the weekend. The 22 flights taken over 60 flight hours to identify areas significantly impacted by the hurricane resulted in over 1,776 square miles surveyed and 3,895 images collected and analyzed. For more information, contact Mike Aslaksen.
From Aug. 31-Sept. 1, the Office of Coast Survey deployed a rapid maritime response team to Port Fourchon, La.—the "Gulf's Energy Connection"—to search for dangers to navigation caused by Hurricane Isaac. These navigation response team members were the first responders to reach Port Fourchon and immediately met with port officials and started surveying the deserted pier areas. After processing data and images until the early morning hours, the team was back on the water at first light, surveying shipping channels. Once the team was able to report no dangers to navigation and only minor shoaling, the port quickly resumed operations. Port Fourchon services about 90 percent of all deepwater oil rigs and platforms in the Gulf of Mexico. For more information, contact Jon Swallow.
On Aug. 29–30, the newly established U.S. Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS®) Federal Advisory Committee met for the first time. NOAA established the committee to advise federal government leaders in the effort to integrate the nation's ocean observations. The committee's purpose is to evaluate scientific and technical information related to design, operation, maintenance, and use of IOOS including how to improve IOOS in the future. The committee will provide expert advice to NOAA Administrator Dr. Jane Lubchenco and to the Interagency Ocean Observation Committee, a separate group, composed of federal agency partners who collectively oversee IOOS development. Dr. Lubchenco appointed 13 inaugural members to the committee who were chosen to represent diverse areas of expertise across different sectors and geographic regions. For more information, contact Jessica Snowden.
To help address the problem of ship strikes on endangered blue whales, NOAA's R/V Shearwater conducted a research cruise from Aug. 22–29 to evaluate the responses of blue whales to large vessels in and around the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary (CINMS). Researchers surveyed over 900 miles between Santa Barbara and Dana Point for whale sightings and tagged nine whales with instruments that record whale locations and movements. The project, in its third year and final year, is a partnership between CINMS, Cascadia Research, and Scripps Institution of Oceanography. This cruise was adapted to include two days of work with unmanned aerial vehicles that were used to evaluate the utility of drones for spotting whales and measuring whale body lengths from the air. For more information, contact Steve Katz.
The West Coast Governors Alliance on Ocean Health recently met in Sacramento, Calif., to identify its priority issue areas for the near term, examine the status of tribal involvement, and focus on the relationship between National Ocean Council initiatives and regional planning bodies and regional ocean partnerships. The alliance identified marine debris, climate change, and the data framework as priorities. The executive committee and the action coordination teams attended, along with legislative, local agency, and tribal representatives. The executive committee is actively supported by NOAA Coastal Services Center staff and includes representatives from the governors' offices of Washington, Oregon, and California, and the three federal leads—NOAA, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management. For more information, contact Tim Doherty.
On Aug. 14, NOAA's Harmful Algal Bloom Operational Forecast System (HAB-OFS) team hosted a meeting at the Southeast Regional Office of the National Marine Fisheries Service in St. Petersburg, Fla., to gather feedback on existing products and identify requirements for proposed products, reinforce collaboration with its current Florida state partners, and advance new partner relationships with other NOAA offices and beyond. Florida representatives expressed excitement about the vision for the next generation of Florida HAB forecasts presented by NCCOS. State officials were also interested in increasing HAB outreach through social media tools and potentially relevant NOAA products discussed by National Weather Service staff in attendance. For more information, contact Adria Schneck-Scott.
On Aug. 28, there was an open house and public meeting in Manistique, Mich., to discuss current and ongoing efforts to restore the Manistique River Area of Concern (AOC). Local, state, and federal entities are working together to complete the last remaining restoration actions needed to delist the Manistique River AOC from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) record of areas with "beneficial use impairments." Specifically, these actions will address the contamination causing fish consumption advisories and restrictions on dredging activities. This effort also serves as the Great Lakes regional initiative for NOAA's Habitat Blueprint. The members of this collaborative effort include the City of Manistique; Michigan Department of Environmental Quality; several NOAA offices including the Office of Response and Restoration, National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science, Restoration Center, and Great Lakes Environmental Research Lab; EPA; U.S. Army Corps of Engineers; and U.S. Geological Survey. For more information, contact Sarah Opfer.
With the aid of a new, computer model, a NOAA scientist discovered that large die-offs of algae can locally magnify ocean acidification. As masses of algae die and sink to the ocean bottom, bacteria populations that feed on the algae swell in response, consuming more oxygen and releasing more carbon dioxide, which acidifies the water. Acidic conditions inhibit the normal development of shellfish larvae and coral polyps, which thrive in more alkaline conditions favorable for forming their calcium-rich protective shells. The researcher used data from the Gulf of Mexico and the Baltic Sea to validate the new acidification model. The model will help state and local officials adapt their management of vulnerable coastal resources, such as the placement of shellfish farms, based on the condition of the water. For more information, contact Bill Sunda.