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Office of Coast Survey

NOAA Nautical Charts Display Deepwater BP Oil Spill Projections

Office of Coast Survey

NOAA Nautical Charts Display
Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Projections

nautical chart

To help mariners safely navigate in the Gulf region following the Deepwater BP incident, the Office of Coast Survey is producing daily updates to nautical chart products that display the spill zone forecast based on current spill projections. The charts depict the 48-hour forecast for oil location, juxtaposed against the standard safety fairways that lead to port approaches.

The oceans are the trading routes for the planet. Six of our nation's top ten ports are located in the Gulf of Mexico. The Lower Mississippi River ports export over 50 million metric tons of corn, soybeans, and wheat each year—more than 55 percent of all U.S. grains inspected for shipment. Grain market participants and Midwestern farmers need efficient port operations to export product. And that is just one example—all segments of our economy rely on timely exports and imports. The safe movement of goods in and out of ports can't stop because of an oil spill.

To help mariners safely navigate in the Gulf region following the Deepwater BP incident, the Office of Coast Survey is producing daily updates to nautical chart products that display the spill zone forecast based on current spill projections. The charts depict the 48-hour forecast for oil location, juxtaposed against the standard safety fairways that lead to port approaches.

These electronic and raster charts alert ship captains to the location of the forecasted spill area, so that captains can take efforts to avoid the spill. The U.S. Coast Guard is also using the chart information to develop instructions for vessels transiting U.S. waters.

A nautical chart depicts the nature and shape of the coast, water depths, and general topography of the ocean floor; locations of navigational danger and protected marine life; predicted tides; locations of human-made aids to navigation; and, in port areas, traffic separation schemes. The nautical chart is one of the most fundamental tools available to mariners, who use charts to plan voyages and navigate ships using the shortest, safest, and most economical routes. NOAA's Office of Coast Survey continually updates its collection of over 1,000 charts.