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After more than two years of negotiations, the State of Maryland and the Department of Defense (DOD) reached agreement on a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) and De Minimis List of Activities for how the State's enforceable policies under the Coastal Zone Management Act will be applied to DOD properties and activities. The MOU is the first of its kind nationally, providing a framework for more efficient decision-making and improved coordination between the parties on federal actions having coastal effects in Maryland. Assistance from the Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management throughout the negotiations was instrumental to the parties in reaching agreement.
A new map provided by the National Geodetic Survey (NGS) shows how GPS orthometric (heights above mean sea level) height accuracies vary across the United States and facilitates collaboration to improve height accuracies in the future. The map reveals data gaps in the current model, which translates raw GPS heights into orthometric heights aligned with the official vertical datum. A DSWORLD-software connection to Google Earth allows users to explore the map and overlay non-GPSed vertical bench marks, as well as provide opportunities to contribute new GPS data and improve future models. By alerting users to localized weaknesses in the current model and highlighting locations where their collaboration efforts would yield the greatest benefit, this map helps improve the use of GPS for measuring heights (critical for flood maps, coastal inundation modeling, navigation, and transportation).
In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, NOAA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) have rededicated their efforts to working together to help rebuild more resilient and sustainable coastal communities that can adapt to and better mitigate the impacts of coastal hazards and severe weather events. While working on post Sandy recovery efforts in the New Jersey and New York region, NOAA and USACE jointly developed a set of Infrastructure Systems Rebuilding Principles to promote a unified strategy for our activities in restoring the coast.
The old adage "what goes around comes around" was proven once again through the Coastal Management Fellowship Program. The fellowship was established in 1996 to groom the coastal management professional of tomorrow and provide assistance to state coastal management programs. A matching workshop is held each year to match the postgraduate students with the state-proposed projects. This year, two of the participating states were represented by former fellows. The 2013-15 class of fellows will work on projects that address climate change adaptation, shoreline protection, and ocean planning in California, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, and Oregon.
The Office of Coast Survey's hydrographic season is underway. On the East Coast, NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson continues her surveys for the Long Island Sound Seafloor Mapping Initiative and chart updates, before undertaking post-Sandy surveys in Delaware Bay. NOAA Ship Ferdinand Hassler is going through final repairs, upgrades, training, and inspection this spring, before surveying approaches to Chesapeake Bay, and then heading to her new homeport in New Castle, New Hampshire. On the West Coast, NOAA Ship Rainier is surveying heavily used transit areas in southern Alaska and the Shumagin Islands. NOAA Ship Fairweather will assist with an ocean acidification project along the California coast, and may also survey around Los Angeles / Long Beach and San Diego. Coast Survey's navigation response teams are surveying in Panama City, Jacksonville, and St. Augustine, Florida; Galveston and Sabine Pass, Texas; Eastern Long Island Sound; and San Francisco Bay. Navigation response teams are also updating hurricane plans and performing preventive maintenance so they are ready to deploy as needed for post-hurricane rapid maritime response.
This week, the Center for Operational Oceanographic Products and Services announced plans to install four temporary water-level stations over the next two years to update historic tidal datum elevations critical for mapping shoreline boundaries throughout the tribal lands of the Tulalip Tribe of western Washington. The existing shoreline information was outdated due to changes in sea level rise and shoreline configuration over time. Defining the Mean High Water line is essential when updating shoreline boundaries. This information assists landowners in defining their property limits. The data will also be used to support safe navigation, marine boundary delineation, habitat restoration, coastal hazard mitigation, and coastal planning, engineering, and management.
Staff from Office of National Marine Sanctuaries and Office of Marine and Aviation Operations (OMAO) recently conducted a Puma Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) mission aboard the NOAA ship Nancy Foster. In this first mission conducted from a NOAA ship, the team developed Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for safe, efficient, and effective operations; tested the SOPs to ensure they were appropriate; conducted flights to locate, identify, and track targets; and introduced the system to potential future users. The mission was a success, owing in large part to the mission planning overseen by OMAO's UAS pilots and the support of the crew of the Nancy Foster.
On April 29, the NOAA Physical Oceanographic Real-Time System (PORTS) began displaying data from a current meter located near the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, the gateway to the Port of New York and New Jersey, the nation's second busiest port. The meter was deployed by the Stevens Institute of Technology, a member of the Mid-Atlantic region of the U.S. Integrated Observing System (IOOS), which is comprised of federal, regional, academic, and private-sector partnerships. This is the first time that IOOS academic research data has been incorporated into the NOAA PORTS system. Navigational data will continue to be provided at no cost to the area Port Authority, and the joint endeavor is of minimal cost to NOAA.
The Great Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve in New Hampshire recently hosted the second annual Coastal Climate Summit, a gathering of more than 85 municipal leaders, elected officials, scientists, watershed associations, education and outreach professionals, and concerned citizens to share the latest information about climate change research and adaptation efforts in the region. The Summit identified specific regional issues, potential solutions, adaptation planning and an opportunity for people with innovative ideas to connect with potential partners to share possible solutions to climate impacts.
Use of the Global Positioning System (GPS) for high-accuracy, real-time, and near real-time positioning activities requires accurate repeatable predictions of satellite vehicle position and sub-daily variations in Earth orientation. NGS develops software for determining such "ultra-rapid" GPS products. These products contribute to those of the International Global Navigation Satellite System Service. Recent refinements by NGS' space geodesy team have improved the capability of predicting Earth orientation and GPS satellite orbits. Such improvements are important, because access to the U.S. National Spatial Reference System is obtained directly through GPS products, and the demand for real-time access is growing rapidly.
Land cover and change maps are now accessible from tablets and smartphones. Users can get data and trend information for their area of interest, including forest losses and development gains, as well as specific information such as salt marsh losses to open water or evergreen forest losses to development. The Land Cover Atlas a popular tool developed by the NOAA Coastal Services Center to deliver this information to mobile devices, making it even easier for coastal managers and the public to access maps and data.
NOAA kicked off its spring season for post-Sandy hydrographic work. On April 11 a navigation response team—equipped with high-tech surveying equipment—began a survey in the waters surrounding Liberty and Ellis Islands. The National Park Service requested the Coast Survey's Navigation Response Team 5, one of the first in-water responders, to help re-open the Port of New York and New Jersey immediately after Hurricane Sandy. Team 5 is now re-establishing safe navigation and docking in preparation for the Statues planned reopening on July 4.
From April 4-5, NOAA Marine Debris Program staff presented at a plastics workshop hosted by the University of Waterloo, Ontario. The University staff is engaged in a feasibility study to detect plastics in the Great Lakes using remote sensing techniques. If found feasible and trial runs prove to be effective, this work could be applied nationwide. NOAA Marine Debris Program staff presented information on previous plastics research as well as experiences in at-sea and satellite debris detection technologies. The NOAA Marine Debris Program will continue to keep tabs on the project and remain engaged as it progresses.
The Digital Coast has improved access to data with the Digital Coast Data Registry. The registry is a collection of coastal geospatial data from many sources accessible in a variety of formats for use, download, and viewing. This new resource enhances the user's ability to discover all the ways data sets are available and to find additional data sets that may be of interest. Since these data sets are hosted from a variety of authoritative sources, users are saved the work of searching many disparate sites for information. Users of the registry can filter the data by thematic category, state or territory, offshore region, and service type. The registry also provides easier access to map services for map-making on the go.
NOAA's Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary recently released a climate change impacts report entitled "Climate Change and the Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary: Interpreting Potential Futures." The report is an initial accomplishment under planned sanctuary climate change action plans, and provides a strong foundation of information for further actions and adaptations in the region. Existing observations and science-based projections were used to identify an extensive suite of potential climate change impacts to habitats, plants, and animals within the sanctuary and adjacent coastal areas. Key issues identified include projected extreme weather events (winds, waves, storms) and resultant coastal erosion, an increase in ocean acidity and water temperature, and more extreme weather patterns, including Pacific Northwest regional rainfall increases triggering 100-year magnitude floods.
The largest recorded harmful algal bloom (HAB) in Lake Erie's history may be an omen for the future. A new multi-investigator study supported in part by funding from the National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science, concludes the record-breaking 2011 bloom was likely caused by a combination of changing farming practices and weather conditions-conditions predicted to continue under a changing climate. Farming practices such as tillage and fertilizer use have changed over the last 10 years. In addition, more intense weather and increased runoff events have injected more phosphorus into Lake Erie. After 2011's bloom began to form, an extended period of weak circulation and warm weather further promoted its growth. The authors predict that all of these factors are likely to continue to occur in the future, increasing the chances of these toxic blooms.