CO-OPS completed a major station upgrade of the National Water Level Observation Network (NWLON) station at Toke Point, Washington, home to the Shoalwater Bay Tribe. The upgrades included a new fiberglass tide house, all new Doppler current profilers and other electronic components, a new microwave water level sensor, dual wind birds, and a water temperature sensor. CO-OPS maintains a national water level network of more than 200 stations that provide continuous validated tidal observations. The stations receive regular maintenance and upgrades to ensure that they provide updated, accurate data 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
NGS is continuing an extensive aerial oblique and nadir collection of georeferenced Great Lakes imagery, which began at the beginning of August but was interrupted to collect emergency response imagery of the Louisiana flood. The Great Lakes imagery will be used as a baseline to assess hazards to navigation, impacts of future coastal events, and coastal zone management. The imagery will also be used to support mission partners, including other NOAA offices, the U.S. Geological Survey, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Federal Emergency Management Agency, and other state, local, and academic interests.
OR&R participated in the Canada-U.S. Pacific 2016 Oil Spill Workshop and a joint response team meeting held in Victoria, British Columbia. Hosted by the Canadian Coast Guard Western Region, the workshop focused on engaging First Nations and tribal members in the Southern Salish Sea region in discussions about transboundary response and preparedness. The workshop also provided an opportunity for a listening session to get input from First Nations and tribes. Topics included fisheries closures during spills, protection of cultural resources, and wildlife response.
In California’s Sonoma and Mendocino Counties, the Russian River watershed and coastline areas are facing sea level rise and hazard-related flooding, conflicts over water uses, and steep declines in salmon and trout, in part due to degraded water and habitat. A new flood mapping and information tool, Our Coast, Our Future, helps users “see” and anticipate many of these problem areas so they can make wiser plans and decisions. Four state and local coastal organizations aim to use the tool in their plans and operations. Point Blue Conservation Science developed and hosts the site, and the U.S. Geological Survey contributed coastal storm modeling. OCM funded the effort as part of the Russian River Habitat Focus Area.
The Pacific Islands Marine Protected Areas Community, an organization supported by CRCP and the Micronesia Conservation Trust, works with partners to safeguard and enhance some of the globe’s most diverse marine ecosystems, including coral reefs. Over the past year, the organization has assisted with trainings benefiting Palau’s marine enforcement officers, the Marshall Islands’ management plans, and a Federated States of Micronesia socioeconomic assessment. In 2016, the Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies nominated the Community for a Climate Adaptation Leadership Award.
OCS released a new 1:12,000 scale electronic navigational chart of the Riverhead Production Platform Facilities, located on the south shore of Long Island Sound approximately one nautical mile north of Jacobs Point, New York. OCS created the chart (ENC US5NY1K) in response to a request from the Northeast Marine Pilots Association. Every year, more than 11 million barrels of petroleum products are offloaded from the north side of the platform onto ships ranging in length from 600 to 900 feet. The larger-scale coverage of the platform and surrounding waters provides more detail than the 1:40,000 scale chart coverage on existing Chart 12358, and will increase safety for vessels calling at the platform.
In response to historic releases of hazardous materials from industrial activities into Washington State’s Port Gardner Bay, NOAA’s Damage Assessment, Remediation, and Restoration Program and a co-trustee released a Draft Damage Assessment Restoration Plan and Environmental Assessment for public comment. The preferred restoration project is to contribute toward the completion of the Blue Heron Slough Restoration Project. The project, which will address other conservation and mitigation needs in addition to natural resource injuries in Port Gardner Bay, will restore approximately 350 acres of intertidal, wetland, and riparian habitat in the Snohomish River Estuary to benefit salmon and other species. The public has 30 days to review and comment on the proposed plan and environmental assessment.
The water temperature at the National Water Level Observation Network station in Atlantic City, New Jersey, reached 83.3 degrees Fahrenheit on August 10, breaking the previous record high of 83.1 degrees set in July 2011. CO-OPS confirmed and validated the temperature recorded at the station with the National Weather Service in Mount Holly, New Jersey. CO-OPS holds an inventory of water temperature data from the station dating back to June 1995.
NCCOS and partners completed technical preparations for the first deployment of an Environmental Sample Processor (ESP) in the Great Lakes. The ESP is an autonomous underwater robot that detects harmful algal bloom cells and toxins in the water samples it collects. The month-long deployment of the ESP—planned for this fall near the Toledo, Ohio, water intake—will generate near–real-time measurements of microcystins, a class of freshwater cyanobacterial toxins that threaten drinking and recreational water supplies. NCCOS developed the microcystin sensor in collaboration with NOAA’s Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory (GLERL) and the University of Michigan. The team conducted a dockside checkout of the ESP and the sensor, which included sensor validation using water pumped from Lake Erie. Data collected by the ESP will be made available on GLERL’s website. Ultimately, the data will be added to predictive models to directly support NOAA’s Lake Erie harmful algal bloom forecasts.
NGS wrapped up three weeks of topo-bathy (land elevation and water depth) LIDAR data collection along the outer reef of Florida. The data were acquired using the Office of Marine and Aviation Operations’ Twin Otter aircraft equipped with NGS’s new high-resolution, near-shore topo-bathy LIDAR system. LIDAR data will support the Office of Coast Survey’s request for chart updates, and will supply much-needed data to the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary to support bathymetry maps. NGS plans to return to the area next year to survey additional portions of the reef. Near-shore LIDAR systems have improved over the past few years, and NGS’s upgraded system can acquire data in waters up to 4 m deep and even deeper where conditions allow.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released the report, Climate Change Indicators in the United States, which, for the first time, included nuisance flooding as an indicator of climate change. Nuisance flooding is recurrent flooding that takes place at high tide. Because of sea level rise, nuisance flooding has become a “sunny day” event; that is, one not necessarily linked to storms or heavy rain. CO-OPS issued the first report on nuisance flooding in 2014, analyzing data from NOAA tide gauges where the water level exceeded the local threshold for minor flooding impacts established by local Weather Forecasting Offices of the National Weather Service.
Earlier this year, U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI) asked President Obama to expand the current boundaries of Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument (PMNM). NOAA and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recently hosted meetings on the islands of Oahu and Kauai to discuss and understand the local vision for the proposed expansion. More than 500 people attended the two meetings. The expansion would make PMNM the largest marine protected area on Earth, with its boundaries extending out to the 200-nautical-mile U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone. The U.S. Departments of Commerce and the Interior will review comments from the meetings along with those submitted in writing.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) used OCM’s climate adaptation training as an opportunity for EPA staff to review and improve the federal agency’s climate adaptation plans and strategies. The training was held in EPA’s Mid-Atlantic Region 3, where rising tidal flooding and temperatures are affecting water resources and environmental and public health. The training featured NOAA and EPA data and tools that coastal states and municipalities are using to improve adaptation efforts.
NGS’s Chief Geodesist (acting) served as a delegate for the U.S. mission to the Sixth Session of the United Nations (U.N.) Committee of Experts on Global Geospatial Information Management and as a member of the U.N. Global Geodetic Reference Frame working group in New York City. The working group is developing a roadmap for sustainable development to be implemented by all U.N. member nations. This will establish a homogeneous approach to developing national geodetic infrastructure, data sharing and standards, capacity building, and communications. The working group will report to the broader committee, which will focus on goals and progress toward key areas of action outlined in the U.N. General Assembly Resolution.
Improving fish biodiversity through the development of a catch documentation and traceability system was the focus of a meeting in Bangkok, Thailand. The Oceans and Fisheries Partnership—a five-year, $20 million U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) initiative—strives to improve marine biodiversity in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and in the Coral Triangle Region. This was the first opportunity since the partnership’s inception in September 2015 for the working groups to meet in person to discuss the proposed system. In addition to CRCP and OCM, participating partners included NOAA Fisheries’ Seafood Inspection Program and Office of International Affairs, USAID, and the technical working groups of the Oceans and Fisheries Partnership.
NCCOS has supported the Hawaii Coral Reef Initiative (HCRI) since 1998 to fund research on Hawaii's coral reefs, including invasive algae and seaweed control measures. The "Super Sucker" was born from a partnership with the State of Hawaii and The Nature Conservancy (TNC) to remove invasive algae from Hawaii’s coral reefs and lagoons using a large vacuum hose attached to a barge. According to a TNC report, the Super Sucker, in combination with the reintroduction of native algae-eating sea urchins, caused some populations of invasive algae to completely disappear from Oahu’s Kaneohe Bay by 2015. Scientists suggest, however, that several factors may have reduced the invasive algae to historically low levels, including warmer ocean temperatures and increased fresh water from rainstorms. Regardless, the recovery is hoped to be indicative of long-term conditions. The partnerships developed by NCCOS and HCRI contribute to several restoration efforts in the Hawaiian Islands.