Cover of the National Coastal Population Report.
One of our nation's ongoing challenges is to manage ecologically sensitive coastal areas so that future generations will continue to reap the immeasurable economic, cultural, recreational, and aesthetic benefits provided by our coastal resources. At the core of this management challenge are both the large numbers and high densities of residents and visitors to the coast. This concentration of people impacts the integrity of coastal ecosystems and at the same time, the lives and livelihoods of some of these residents and visitors can be at risk from natural processes at the coast, such as hurricanes, erosion, and sea level rise.
In March 2013, NOS issued a report in partnership with the U.S. Census Bureau, National Coastal Population Report: Population Trends from 1970 to 2020, that provides detailed and projected coastal population trends for both the population in Coastal Watershed Counties as well as Coastal Shoreline Counties. According to the report, which analyzed data from the 2010 census, 39 percent of the U.S. population is concentrated in counties directly on the shoreline –less than 10 percent of the total U.S. land area excluding Alaska.
NOAA Climate Steward and 5th grade students celebrate the Earth and proudly display their NOAA Climate Stewards t-shirts after studying about climate change and working to mitigate global warming.
In 2013, the NOAA Climate Stewards Education Project (CSEP) expanded to include over 200 educators in 46 states, the District of Columbia, and U.S. Virgin Islands. CSEP provides professional development opportunities and supports a collaborative online learning community to increase climate science knowledge and engage students in stewardship projects. Participants include educators from K-12 schools, community colleges, universities, and informal institutions of learning such as zoos, aquaria, and nature centers.
This year, CSEP educators completed over 1,700 contact hours of professional development in climate change science and pedagogy through webinars, teleconferences, online tutorials, and face-to-face workshops. These activities were hosted by NOS and its partners, including the American Meteorological Society, National Science Teachers Association (NSTA), National Museum of the American Indian, and the Northern Great Lakes Visitor Center. CSEP educators organized a two-day traditional environmental knowledge workshop in Ashland, Wis., and presented on their students stewardship projects at the NSTA and American Geophysical Union national meetings.
Also in 2013, in cooperation with NOAA’s Climate Program Office, NOS launched a new online series of activities tied to Climate and Ocean Literacy and the Next Generation Science Standards. Discover Your Changing World with NOAA includes 10 activities designed to introduce middle school students to the essential principles of climate science including the Earth’s climate system, the factors that drive and change it, the impacts of those changes, and how students can understand and protect our Earth. This new resource is part of NOAA’s strategy to reach informal education audiences such as afterschool groups, parents, and science centers.
The NOS Management and Budget Office (MBO) is responsible for the corporate online presence for the National Ocean Service. In 2013, the NOS website saw continued growth and reached new milestones with an 83.6 percent increase in visits compared to fiscal year 2012. In addition, the website averaged over 1.2 million visits per month in FY13. This is the first time that the site has attained and sustained more than a million visits in a monthly time period. Lastly, mobile access to the website continued to rapidly increase over the course of the fiscal year. More than 30 percent of all site traffic now originates from mobile phones, tablets, and other handheld devices.
On the social networking side, NOS continued to see growth to both its Facebook and Twitter accounts. In the past year, NOS Twitter grew 43 percent to reach a new following of 78,200, and NOS Facebook increased its following by 62 percent. This continued strong growth for the National Ocean Service’s online presence is due to the development of interesting, trustworthy content geared to the interests of the audience. Some of the most popular content on the NOS website included Ocean Facts, podcasts, and the home page.
In addition to maintaining the corporate online presence, MBO supported the agency in communications leading up to, during, and following Sandy. For example, immediately following Sandy, MBO developed a post-operations story highlighting response activities from numerous offices in NOS. MBO also created a "slider" feature to help users compare pre- and post-storm aerial imagery of the affected coastline. These two stories were the most-viewed of all NOS news and feature items posted in FY13, with over 305,000 page views. In the months that followed, MBO continued to provide highlights to its web and social networking audiences on the recovery and rebuilding following Sandy.
In 2013, the NOAA Planet Stewards Digital Badge effort completed a content review, conducted pilot testing, and officially launched to educators from across the country. A series of training webinars on the NOAA resources available were provided to teachers as they work to implement this new tool into their classrooms during the 2013-2014 school year.
Led by the NOS Management and Budget Office, NOAA partnered with 3D GameLab at Boise State University to create 'NOAA Planet Stewards,' a personalized high school competency-based curricular experience. This effort was developed through funding from the 'Digital Media and Learning Competition: Badges for Lifelong Learning,' sponsored by Mozilla and the MacArthur Foundation. Using NOAA’s science content and 3D GameLab’s game-based learning platform, students are able to choose among web-based quests to earn experience points, levels, and badges as they demonstrate understanding of weather, climate, coastal, and ocean science concepts. This new career resource is targeted to high school students and supports NOAA's education strategic plans in workforce development and science education.
In 2013, the NOAA GIS Committee, led by staff from the National Ocean Service, continued efforts to help NOAA reach its responsibility for the Administration's Open Data Policy by streamlining its approach and overall management of publishing the NOS geospatial metadata inventory into the federal metadata catalog, Data.gov. The GIS Committee also worked in partnership with NOAALink Program Office and NOAA Acquisitions and Grants Office to successfully execute a new NOAA-wide Enterprise License Agreement (ELA) for geospatial development software with Esri, the leading GIS software developer. The terms and conditions for the NOAA Esri ELA benefit offices across NOAA by not only providing the needed technical software for staff to do their jobs, but also represents over 53 percent additional savings discount from the regular Esri GSA Schedule.
Also in 2013, NOAA leadership asked the GIS Committee to conduct an assessment of the geospatial systems and programs the agency operates and maintains. The results, delivered in the report, "NOAA Geospatial Systems Assessment: Final Report and Recommendations of the National Ocean Service," provide NOAA Leadership with recommendations on how to improve the organization's efficiency with respect to the geospatial systems that deliver NOAA data to the public.