This week, NOAA leaders joined members of Congress, as well as federal, state, and local emergency responders at the grand opening of the Gulf of Mexico Disaster Response Center in Mobile, Ala. The new 15,200-square foot facility will serve as a central coordination point for emergency managers and partners who rely on NOAA's scientific support to make decisions to protect and restore the Gulf Coast's communities, economies, and natural resources.
October 18, 2012
I joined Dave Westerholm, Director of the Office of Response and Restoration, at the grand opening ceremony of the Gulf of Mexico Disaster Response Center in Mobile, Alabama, this week. He has taken the pen for this edition.
In filling in for David Kennedy this week, I want to share a story about NOAA's new Disaster Response Center (DRC). Over the past decade, the Gulf of Mexico region has faced both natural and human-caused disasters, from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005 to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010. It was shortly before I arrived in 2008 that NOAA received an appropriation for this building in Mobile. The DRC is now complete, and on Monday, October 15, we held the formal dedication. The event was a huge success, and the guests especially enjoyed the capability demonstrations, during which they met and interacted with experts from across NOAA who showcased specific products and services that we provide to emergency managers.
Many of you were instrumental in the vision, design, and now the reality of the center, and you should all be proud of your great work. When we first set out to develop the DRC concept four years ago, we embraced this principle: For the DRC to be truly effective, it would need to harness assets and capabilities from across all of NOAA. We knew we could fill a void and add value to our current support during disasters, and today, we are doing just that. In addition to my office, we currently have offices for staff in the region from the Office of Coast Survey, Center for Operational Oceanographic Products and Services, National Marine Fisheries Service, and National Weather Service.
With the opening of the Disaster Response Center, OR&R is helping to position America for the future. Establishing this unprecedented footprint in the Gulf region aligns with key long-term initiatives in NOAA's Next Generation Strategic Plan, including supporting resilient coastal communities and economies and building a weather-ready nation. The DRC also aligns with the new NOAA Concept of Operations (CONOPS) by expanding our federal capacity to plan for, and respond to, all hazards. If you are ever in the area, I hope you will stop by.
Office of Response and Restoration
This week, NOAA leaders joined members of Congress, as well as federal, state, and local emergency responders at the grand opening of the Gulf of Mexico Disaster Response Center in Mobile, Ala. The new 15,200-square foot facility will serve as a central coordination point for federal, state and local emergency managers, and partners who rely on NOAA's scientific support to make decisions to protect and restore the Gulf Coast's communities, economies, and valuable natural resources.
A new mobile version of the Coral Reef Conservation Program website is now available. The mobile site features news and feature stories, coral facts, photos, and more—delivered straight to smartphone users. The new site also includes a mobile-optimized version of a glossary and acronyms from the NOAA Coral Reef Information System (CoRIS). The Coral Program mobile site is the fastest and easiest way to get coral information. Members of the conservation public, a key coral program audience, are increasingly taking to mobile devices as they seek out the latest news and information about coral conservation. The NOS Communication and Education Division's Technical Information Services Branch and coral program partners in CoRIS teamed up to developed the site. For more information, contact: Jon Corsiglia.
An extensive algae bloom off of the Florida coast prompted NOAA's National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science (NCCOS) to provide the state funding to pay for offshore monitoring of the bloom's development, movement, and toxicity. This can help the state more accurately predict its magnitude and movement as well as its impacts. The bloom started in early September and now stretches for 100 miles along the southwest Florida coast. Media reports claim that the red tide is responsible for killing seven tons–or more–of fish around Sarasota alone. NCCOS's algal bloom Event Response Program funds the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to monitor the outbreak. Investigators from NCCOS, the University of South Florida, Mote Marine Laboratory, and the University of Miami are also involved. For more information, contact Marc Suddleson.
Sanctuary Ocean Count, the signature outreach project for NOAA's Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary, was recently named the Take Pride in America Outstanding Federal Volunteer Program during a ceremony in Washington, D.C. The sanctuary's Ocean Count Coordinator and Office of National Marine Sanctuaries director attended the ceremony to receive the award. Take Pride in America is a nationwide partnership program authorized by Congress to promote the appreciation and stewardship of our nation's public lands. The annual Sanctuary Ocean Count launched in 1996 when 150 volunteers took to the shorelines of Oahu to count Hawaii's endangered whale population and document the animals' surface behavior. Today, the program draws more than 2,300 volunteers across Oahu, Kauai, and Hawaii. In the past 17 years, more than 20,000 volunteers have contributed more than 100,000 hours of in-kind support. For more information, contact: Christine Brammer.
The NOAA Coastal Services Center has placed three coastal management fellows with Digital Coast partner organizations. Partner organizations have teamed up to develop two-year fellowship projects addressing topics such as enhancing community resilience, assessing coastal planning policy, and using geospatial data in decision-making. Partner teams include the American Planning Association; the Coastal States Organization; the Association of State Floodplain Managers; the Nature Conservancy; the National Association of Counties; and the National States Geographic Information Council. The fellows' work will help Digital Coast partners complete a high-priority project, help grow the wealth of information already available on the Digital Coast, and provide a professional development experience for the fellow. For more information, contact Margaret Allen.
This week, NOAA participated in Know the Coast Day, an educational open house for K-12 students and the general public at the University of New Hampshire Joint Hydrographic Center Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping. Sponsored by the UNH Marine Program, the New Hampshire Sea Grant College Program, and the UNH Marine Docents, Know the Coast Day includes a diverse array of educational hands-on activities highlighting coastal research. Activities at the event, geared specifically for K-12 students, provide an opportunity for students to interact with scientists and educators and tour labs and research vessels. NOAA presented an interactive coastal remote sensing demonstration, illustrating technologies used by NOAA for mapping the coast, including Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR) and aerial imagery. For more information, contact Chris Parrish .
A scientist from the Office of Response & Restoration has been leading several NOAA projects aimed at dealing with the thousands of unexploded munitions in the waters off of Culebra and Vieques Islands in Puerto Rico and Ordnance Reef near Oahu, Hawaii. Relics of a sea-disposal site and former bombing practice range, these underwater bombs pose unusual challenges for mitigating related environmental impacts. Scientist Diane Wehner has been working with the Department of Defense and Environmental Protection Agency to develop strategies for avoiding or minimizing impacts to these sensitive coral reef habitats. Earlier this month, she helped shape the direction of and the discussions at the Fourth International Dialogue on Underwater Munitions in San Juan, Puerto Rico, which works with national and international leaders and organizations worldwide to remediate underwater munitions. At this event, she highlighted NOAA's work to characterize hazardous substances showing up in land and fiddler crabs and to evaluate coral health and mitigation activities at the munitions removal demonstration project for Ordnance Reef. Diane Wehner.
Historical Topographic Sheets ("T-Sheets") produced by the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey are referenced to various horizontal datums in use over the two hundred years since the first Survey of the Coast in 1816. To use these maps to document coastal change, a conversion has to be made from the horizontal datum used at the time the map was published to the datum in which modern data are expressed. Upon successful completion of rigorous testing now underway, the National Geodetic Survey will soon provide a free horizontal datum transformation tool for use by the general public, allowing users to be more self-sufficient and freeing up NOAA resources from responding to numerous requests for technical support. The completion of this task will greatly increase the value of historical NOAA charts to the public. This effort will support a myriad of historical coastal change analysis. For example, scientists investigating coastal archaeological sites will now have more accurate positions and coastal geomorphologists will have better tools to document shoreline change over time. For more information, contact Cindy Craig.