New data on MarineCadastre.gov help planners understand how tropical cyclones can impair offshore infrastructure or interrupt commerce and marine operations. The data include storm “track lines” and also indicate how often an area has experienced wind events of specific intensities. An accompanying story map explains how the data sets were developed. Planners will be able to use tropical cyclone exposure data to better understand the susceptibility of marine waters and offshore activities to damaging winds. The data can be viewed along with other marine planning data sets.
An NGS team is conducting a site survey at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in Pie Town, NM. The team is establishing, to a very high level of precision, the locations of two geodetic instruments (a Very Long Baseline Array antenna station and a Global Navigation Satellite System tracking station). The data will be used to improve the accuracy of the International Terrestrial Reference Frame (ITRF)—the global coordinate system that defines latitude, longitude, height, scale, gravity, and orientation. The ITRF is a key element in monitoring plate tectonics, measuring subsidence (land sinking) and uplift, providing consistent navigation systems, and determining rates of sea level rise.
NOAA led a training for marine protected area (MPA) managers in the Philippines to help them strengthen their management effectiveness. Topics included marine invertebrates and fish, habitat connections to upland watershed processes, and identifying conservation targets and threats. An additional “train the trainers” workshop assisted mentors in the role of guiding and leading when NOAA’s role concludes in 3-5 years. The training was made possible by a Memorandum of Agreement between the U.S. Agency for International Development and NOAA through CRCP and ONMS’s International Marine Protected Areas Capacity Building Team.
This week, the Ecological Society of America gave its Innovation in Science Sustainability Award to the paper titled “Future of our coasts: The potential for natural and hybrid infrastructure to enhance the resilience of our coastal communities, economies and ecosystems,” by Ariana Sutton-Grier, PhD, of NOS, and Katya Wowk, PhD, and Holly Bamford, PhD, both formerly of NOS. The paper was published in the August 2015 issue of the journal Environmental Science & Policy (51: 137–148). The award recognizes authors of a peer-reviewed paper that exemplifies leading-edge work on solution pathways to sustainability challenges. Post-Tropical Cyclone Sandy brought unprecedented attention to building resilience of coastal communities and ecosystems to the growing threats of storm surge and erosion. This led to a focus on how both “natural” and “hybrid” infrastructure incorporating both natural and engineered features can increase coastal protection. The paper reveals how the integration of ecological and social science can inform and increase the sustainable management of coastal ecosystems worldwide.
CO-OPS and OCS staff traveled to Niteroi, Brazil, to participate in the annual meeting of the Tides, Water Level and Currents working group of the International Hydrographic Organization. The working group provides technical advice and coordination to the international navigation community, and develops product specifications for electronic navigational charting systems used by large commercial vessels worldwide. Technical experts from oceanographic and hydrographic institutions around the world attended the meeting to gain a fuller understanding of the various methodologies used to support safe marine navigation. While adoption of the group’s product specifications lies years in the future, the specs will significantly alter how CO-OPS and OCS deliver data and products.
The Northern Gulf of Mexico Sentinel Site Cooperative produced Keeping Pace: A Short Guide to Navigating Sea Level Rise models, which synthesizes information from several sources and experts on the importance of sea level rise (SLR) model selection. The four-page document was designed to help guide resource managers and community planners through the myriad of available SLR models. Decision makers can use the guide to understand concepts and model categories, and see an example of how the information can be applied. The guide also includes a comprehensive list of existing SLR models by category, and tools to facilitate model selection.
The Pacific Islands Ocean Observing System (PacIOOS), an IOOS regional association, redeployed a wave buoy outside of Majuro, the largest city in the Republic of the Marshall Islands. Located about .5 nautical miles offshore, the wave buoy measures wave height, direction, period, and sea surface temperature in 30-minute intervals. All wave information is available online and free of charge. The reinstalled buoy joins the existing PacIOOS network of 13 real-time wave buoys across the Pacific. A previous buoy was lost at sea, most likely due to a vessel collision, and the redeployment fills that gap. The redeployment was made possible by funding from IOOS, the National Weather Service Pacific Region, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and an anonymous private donor.
Coastal planners, fishery managers, and oceanographic researchers will soon reap seafloor and water column data from the coast of Washington, as NOAA Ship Rainier undertakes a multi-disciplinary survey project in the Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary. A scientific team from NOAA, the College of Charleston, the University of Washington, and Oregon State University will acquire data for research projects and ocean management activities, including chart updates, benthic habitat mapping and seafloor characterization, and observations of natural methane gas seeps from the seafloor. The project is managed by NOAA’s Integrated Ocean and Coastal Mapping program. The project, managed by NOAA's Integrated Ocean and Coastal Mapping program, grew from discussions among coastal stakeholders including federal and state agencies, tribes, and academia. The group determined that one of its biggest needs was a better understanding of the area's canyon depths, seafloor, and habitats.
Scientists from NCCOS, ONMS, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), and the California Academy of Sciences produced a characterization of deep-water habitats, now available online, for newly expanded areas of Cordell Bank and Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuaries. Remotely operated vehicle surveys conducted in September 2014 characterized the habitats, ground truthed predicted habitat classifications and habitat suitability models, and contributed to education and outreach about deep-water habitats. USGS collaborators identified two primary geological features—“The Football” in the Greater Farallones and Bodega Canyon in Cordell Bank—that were explored by NCCOS scientists. At The Football, at least 34 fish taxa (a group of one or more populations of an organism), five coral taxa, and four sponge taxa were observed, along with several aggregations of catshark and skate egg cases. At Bodega Canyon, at least 30 fish taxa, six coral taxa, and six sponge taxa were observed. Large-scale collaborations like this are important to monitoring and exploring the nation’s national marine sanctuaries.
CRCP co-led the socioeconomic portion of a recent workshop to foster integrated coral reef monitoring in the Wider Caribbean region. Thirty-five coral reef scientists and coastal managers learned about guidelines and a monitoring framework from the Caribbean component of the Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network. The event also helped identify regional trainers for future workshops. This workshop and future ones will help regional professionals bring together biophysical and socioeconomic data to inform corals-related decisions and improve trend reporting.
The newly formed Great Lakes Water Safety Consortium shows that big things can happen with a little seed money. The consortium aims to improve beach safety through consistent messaging, signage, education, and training. The momentum that led to the consortium began with seed money from OCM’s Coastal Storms Program for a project called “Implementing Dangerous Currents Best Practices.” Michigan Sea Grant and other Sea Grant and regional partners have further advanced beach safety efforts through collaboration and ongoing investments.
On May 6, the “Treasures of NOAA’s Ark” exhibit will open to the public at GulfQuest in Mobile, Alabama. Located on the Mobile River, GulfQuest—one of the only interactive maritime museums in the nation and the only museum dedicated to the historic, cultural, and economic significance of the Gulf of Mexico—is a signature attraction for the Gulf Coast. “Treasures,” which encompasses more than 200 years of science and service by NOAA and its predecessor agencies, has been on display in museums across the country for more than 10 years. It will remain at GulfQuest through January 2017.
CRCP researchers who applied an integrated ecosystem model called Atlantis to Guam’s coral reefs were able to quantify the socioecological costs and benefits of various management scenarios. The resulting decision-support tool identifies strategies to manage food, recreation, coastal protection, and other ecosystem services. The scenario combining fishery and habitat restoration regulations was best at improving ecosystem function and structure (though reef fish catch was less than usual). When the cumulative effects of climate change were included, no scenario prevented a collapse in coral biomass over the next few decades (assuming a business-as-usual greenhouse gas emissions scenario).
NCCOS and partners have developed a new method to detect ciguatoxins in fish that does not rely on the typical use of radioisotopes, which are highly regulated and often unavailable in remote tropical regions where ciguatera incidence is high. The new method—a fluorescent receptor binding assay—is nontoxic, nonradioactive, and reduces screening time from 2.5 days to only 3 hours compared to the current radioisotope method. The test also uses commonly available equipment, allowing it to be more easily added to seafood safety monitoring programs. More than 50,000 people suffer from ciguatera fish poisoning each year by consuming fish tainted with ciguatoxins produced by the algae Gambierdiscus, making it the most common form of algal-induced seafood poisoning. The new assay is described in the scientific journal PLOS ONE, and will soon be available as a test kit from SeaTox Research, Inc., a commercial collaborator on the project.
NOAA’s National Estuarine Research Reserve (NERR) System Science Collaborative announces the 2016 Science Transfer Awards, which will provide a total of $267,000 in funding to six projects involving 19 NERRs. Award recipients will find new ways to use reserve-based information, approaches, and techniques that help protect coastal resources and improve coastal management. The needs addressed include enhancing coastal community resilience, improving climate change education, and communicating the status of tidal marsh resilience across the reserve system.
OCS recently created a new nautical chart feature called the zone of confidence or ZOC box. The ZOC shows when data was collected for specific charted areas (since charts are created from data collected throughout the last century or longer ago) so mariners can assess the risk level of navigating in that area. For instance, the ZOC will tell mariners if they are navigating in an area that is using data from Captain Cook in 1778, data acquired by modern sonar, or something in between. The ZOC replaces the current source diagram on large-scale charts. While source diagrams were based on subjective parameters, the new ZOC classifications are derived more consistently, using a combination of survey data, position accuracy, depth accuracy, and seafloor coverage.