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Integrated Ocean Observing System

external link Gulf of Mexico Coastal Ocean Observing System Oil Spill Information

external link SECOORA Members Contribute to Understanding the Potential impacts of the Oil Spill in the Gulf

podcastWhat is IOOS? Diving Deeper (audio podcast)

Deepwater Horizon Incident, Office of Response and Restoration

Integrated Ocean Observing System

Ocean Observing Key to Oil Spill Response

HF radar

High frequency radar systems, such as the one shown here, are used to measure ocean surface currents and are one component of the Integrated Ocean Observing System.

Following an oil spill, responders need information such as water levels, current speed and direction, wind speed and direction, and wave heights. This information is collected by a variety of organizations (including NOS) using satellites, buoys, tide gauges, radar stations, and underwater vehicles. The Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS®) helps bring this information together, so that it can be coordinated and made available to those who need it.

IOOS a coordinated network of people and technology that compile and distribute data on our coastal waters, Great Lakes, and oceans. It includes partners at all levels of government, academic institutions, and the private sector. After the Deepwater Horizon incident, these partners in the Gulf responded, providing data, tools, models, and other products to support response efforts. 

At the federal level, the NOAA IOOS program is serving as a liaison between IOOS partners and the Incident Command Center (ICC), collating, coordinating, and forwarding relevant IOOS information to the ICC. The NOAA IOOS program is also providing graphics illustrating the location of observation systems within the Gulf of Mexico.

IOOS partners within the Gulf of Mexico Coastal Ocean Observing System (GCOOS), one of eleven regions that are part of the larger IOOS, are providing spill-response support on many fronts. IOOS partners at the University of Southern Mississippi installed new high frequency radar (HFR) sensors after the spill.  HFRs measure surface current speed and direction in near real time, to help track the probable path of the oil.

GCOOS partners at Texas A&M University are running a three-dimensional numerical oceanic model that simulates currents, ecosystems, biogeochemical cycles, and sediment movement in various coastal regions. The Office of Response and Restoration (OR&R) uses this tool, called the Regional Oceans Model System, to understand how oil will move.

GCOOS and IOOS partners in the Southeast Coastal Ocean Observing Regional Association (SECOORA) are providing a Web site of consolidated oil spill response products for use by state and local officials. SECOORA is also providing HFR data along the west Florida shelf and has HFR assets on the southeast Florida coast that can provide additional surface current information, if needed. And, SECOORA partners are preparing model projections, trajectory models, loop current position maps, and satellite visualization images.

IOOS efforts to support the spill response are not limited to the Gulf. IOOS partners within the Southern California Coastal Ocean Observing System (SCCOOS) are working on a system that serves HFR data to ensure data are available. SCCOOS partners are also providing Geographic Information Systems (GIS) shape files of HFR products and a data feed to the Environmental Response Management Application (ERMA). ERMA is a Web-based GIS tool developed by OR&R and the University of New Hampshire to assist emergency responders and environmental resource managers following an incident such as an oil spill.