September 26, 2013
Around the watercooler and across the country, people who work in federal agencies are talking about the possibility of a government shutdown next week. As Secretary Penny Pritzker noted in her emails on September 20 and today, “prudent management requires that we continue to prepare for all contingencies, including the possibility that a lapse could occur at the end of the month.” Here in NOS headquarters, we have been working with your program office leadership to update contingency plans.
As Secretary Pritzker noted, your managers are reaching out to provide additional information on contingency plans and your status under a potential lapse. We are posting written guidance as it becomes available on the For Employees website.
As we look beyond these immediate challenges, we know that important work to support the NOS mission continues. This includes providing updates to you through NOS All Hands meetings. Along those lines, please save the date for the next NOS All Hands meeting, scheduled for Thursday, November 7, from 1-2 p.m. (Eastern). Add this meeting to your Google calendar by clicking on this link. Those in the Silver Spring area are encouraged to participate in person in the NOAA Auditorium. Staff members from outside the Silver Spring area may participate via Webcast and phone. Details for remote participation will be available on the For Employees site a few days before the meeting.
During the meeting, Dr. Russell Callender and I will provide updates from around NOS and we will have a couple of updates from the field. We are really interested in hearing what you would like us to discuss. Is there a particular topic you’d like to hear about? Please email your suggestions for topics to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Holly A. Bamford, Ph.D.
National Ocean Service
This week is National Estuaries Week! Do your part and learn how to protect our nation's estuaries.
National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science (NCCOS) scientists and NCCOS-funded collaborators are currently investigating the causes of Pseudo-nitzschia blooms and toxicity in Monterey Bay, Calif. Under the right conditions, some Pseudo-nitzschia produce domoic acid, a potent neurotoxin that can kill birds and sea lions and is a threat to human health. Gliders and sensors known as Environmental Sample Processors (ESPs) are quantifying the abundance of Pseudo-nitzschia in Monterey Bay; two of the ESPs include NCCOS-designed domoic acid sensors that assess changes in the toxicity of Pseudo-nitzschia populations. This is the third field experiment for this project, which is comparing two harmful algal bloom hot spots: Monterey Bay and San Pedro Bay. The project team is working closely with the Central and Northern California Ocean Observing System—a U.S. Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS) region—and Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary through exchanges of real-time monitoring data, sampling and analytical support, and information to mitigate the effects of harmful algal blooms in the region. For more information, contact Quay Dortch or Greg Doucette.
A new study asked focus groups, representing National Weather Service customers, to identify their communication needs for storm surge information and to evaluate how well they could understand and use new NOAA storm surge products. The study's report contains details on the social science methods and key findings, such as how the understanding of storm surge seems to vary by region, and why terms like "low" and "extreme" may be omitted from inundation maps. Findings will be used to develop a marketing plan and outreach materials for broadcast meteorologists, emergency managers, and National Weather Service forecasters to more effectively communicate the anticipated impacts of a tropical storm or hurricane. Risk communication principles will be applied to improve communication and response before and during a hurricane. For more information, contact Stephanie Fauver.
NOAA Weather Forecast Offices (WFOs) now have access to an improved toxic chemical spill modeling tool that merges two NOAA air dispersion models. This project, the result of a multi-year collaboration, combines the ALOHA (Areal Locations of Hazardous Atmospheres) modeling program with HYSPLIT (Hybrid Single Particle Lagrangian Integrated Trajectory Model). ALOHA is a short-range, short-duration model developed by the Office of Response and Restoration and the Environmental Protection Agency. HYSPLIT is a product of NOAA's Air Resources Laboratory. ALOHA includes algorithms to estimate how a chemical escapes from a tank, gas pipeline, or a puddle. Those time-dependent source strength calculations are now incorporated into the HYSPLIT website to refine chemical release details; HYSPLIT's long-range, long-duration air dispersion model is then used to estimate how those toxic chemical clouds travel downwind. The ALOHA program will continue to be updated and available as part of the CAMEO software suite as a tool for emergency responders. For more information, contact Brianne Connolly.
Beginning this week, maritime traffic transiting Long Island Sound have updated nautical charts that significantly improve navigational safety for boaters and commercial shippers in this busy area. The new editions of charts 13217 (Block Island) and 12372 (Long Island Sound, small craft) identify two dozen new dangers to navigation. NOAA cartographers revised the charts using 70 square nautical miles of hydrographic data and new shoreline images acquired by the NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson and NOAA aircraft. The new chart editions cover areas that are critical to navigation and which, for the most part, had not been surveyed since the 1960s. For more information, contact CDR Shep Smith.
A competitive grant program designed to improve coastal management efforts recently awarded over $834,000 to six state coastal management programs. Funds were awarded to Florida, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission. The five-year enhancement strategy developed by these programs will address a variety of topics, including climate change adaptation, coastal resilience, and habitat management. The Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management administers the program under Section 309 of the Coastal Zone Management Act. NOAA's Projects of Special Merit Funding competition supports state coastal management programs in developing innovative projects that further the state's five-year program enhancement strategies while supporting NOAA priorities. For more information, contact Elizabeth Mountz.
People in the Caribbean have new ocean and coastal data available to inform decision-making. The Caribbean Regional Association for Coastal Ocean Observing, a regional member of the U.S. Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS), deployed the region's fourth buoy this week. The region worked with the U.S. Coast Guard to get the buoy out during hurricane season. The buoy, dedicated during the Stakeholders Council meeting in Puerto Rico in March, will measure wave heights, wave direction, wind speed, wind direction, air temperature, salinity, barometric pressure, and ocean currents in Vieques Sound. These data inform U.S. Coast Guard operations in the area and inform the boating community of daily conditions. For more information, contact Jennie Lyons.
The National Geodetic Survey (NGS) recently participated in Ocean Discovery Day 2013, with a demonstration on coastal LIDAR (light detection and ranging) mapping. The University of New Hampshire's (UNH) School of Marine Science and Ocean Engineering hosted the event. Over 1,000 K-12 students participated in the event over a two-day period. Attendees had the opportunity to interact with faculty and researchers, as well as with graduate students pursuing degrees in marine biology, oceanography, and ocean engineering, presenting an ideal opportunity to engage budding young scientists of tomorrow. For more information, contact Chris Parrish.
The 2013 Gray's Reef Ocean Film Festival, hosted by Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary Sept. 12-15 in Savannah, Ga., was a great success in its eleventh year. With support from local sponsors and volunteers, the sanctuary screened more than a dozen that addressed timely and critical issues such as pollution, habitat destruction and climate change. In addition to the films, attendees flocked to see the festival's Q&A sessions and panel discussions with prominent filmmakers and scientists, as well as a student film competition highlighting 11 short films by students from across the nation. The Gray's Reef Ocean Film Festival creates opportunities for NOAA to engage with the Savannah community, building support for the sanctuary's mission of conservation and stewardship of our marine ecosystems. For more information, contact Amy Rath.