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Making Waves: Episode 12 (Jan. 16, 2009)

(INTRO)
... A NEW DIRECTOR FOR THE NATIONAL GEODETIC SURVEY
...AND WHAT’S NEW ON THE NOS WEBSITE
THAT’S COMING UP TODAY ON MAKING WAVES FROM NOAA’S NATIONAL OCEAN SERVICE.

(NEW NGS DIRECTOR)
THE OLDEST FEDERAL SCIENCE AGENCY IN THE NATION HAS A NEW DIRECTOR. JULIANA BLACKWELL IS SET TO BECOME THE HEAD OF NOAA’S NATIONAL GEODETIC SURVEY, AND SHE’S MAKING HISTORY AS THE FIRST WOMAN TO HOLD THE POST.

BLACKWELL WILL NOW OVERSEE MANAGEMENT OF THE NATION’S SPATIAL REFERENCE SYSTEM. THIS SYSTEM DEFINES LATITUDE, LONGITUDE, HEIGHT, SCALE, GRAVITY, AND ORIENTATION THROUGHOUT THE UNITED STATES. IT’S THE FOUNDATION FOR TRANSPORTATION AND COMMUNICATIONS; MAPPING AND CHARTING; AND A HOST OF SCIENTIFIC AND ENGINEERING APPLICATIONS. YOU MAY NOT HEAR MUCH ABOUT THE NATIONAL SPATIAL REFERENCE SYSTEM, BUT YOU’D CERTAINLY KNOW IF IT DIDN’T EXIST. WITHOUT IT, BRIDGES AND TUNNELS MIGHT NOT MEET UP CORRECTLY IN THE MIDDLE, AIRCRAFT MIGHT LAND NEXT TO THE RUNWAY INSTEAD OF ON IT, AND TRAINS MIGHT END UP HEADING TOWARDS EACH OTHER ON THE SAME TRACK AT THE SAME TIME.

SHE’LL ALSO TAKE THE HELM OF THE NGS COASTAL MAPPING PROGRAM, WHICH MEASURES PRECISE POSITIONS OF THE SHORELINE AND OTHER FEATURES NEEDED FOR MAKING ACCURATE NAUTICAL CHARTS.

AND SHE’LL BE IN CHARGE OF AN NGS PROGRAM THAT MANY PEOPLE ARE SURPRISED TO LEARN IS PART OF THE OCEAN SERVICE. I MENTIONED AIRPLANES A MOMENT AGO. DID YOU THAT THE NGS HAS BEEN INVOLVED IN THE NATION’S AVIATION INDUSTRY SINCE THE EARLY 1900S? TODAY, NGS ADMINISTERS THE AERONAUTICAL SURVEY PROGRAM. THIS PROGRAM PROVIDES HIGHLY ACCURATE POSITION, HEIGHT, AND ORIENTATION INFORMATION THAT WE NEED FOR SAFE AIR TRAVEL. AND THE NGS HAS BEEN PERFORMING AERONAUTICAL SURVEYS SINCE THE 1920S. THESE SURVEYS PROVIDE PILOTS WITH CRITICAL DATA ABOUT AIRPORT FEATURES, OBSTRUCTIONS, AND AIDS TO AIR TRAVEL.

BLACKWELL IS NO STRANGER TO THE NGS. SHE’S BEEN A FULL-TIME MEMBER OF THE SURVEY FOR 12 YEARS. FOR THE PAST THREE YEARS, SHE SERVED AS THE CHIEF OF THE NGS OBSERVATION AND ANALYSIS DIVISION. THAT’S THE OFFICE RESPONSIBLE FOR THE SPATIAL REFERENCE SYSTEM.

SHE’S ALSO MANAGED NOAA'S HEIGHT MODERNIZATION PROGRAM. THIS NGS PROGRAM PROVIDES ACCURATE HEIGHT INFORMATION BY INTEGRATING GPS TECHNOLOGY WITH EXISTING GROUND-BASED SURVEY TECHNIQUES. ACCURATE HEIGHT MEASUREMENTS ARE CRITICAL FOR DETERMINING WATER FLOW. ACCURATE WATER FLOW INFORMATION, IN TURN, IS CRITICAL FOR MONITORING AND MAPPING STORM SURGE, TSUNAMIS, FLOOD PLAINS, IRRIGATION, AND NAVIGATION. SO BY IMPROVING THE EFFICIENCY AND ACCURACY OF HEIGHT INFORMATION USED IN SURVEYING, MAPPING, AND MODELING AROUND THE COUNTRY, HEIGHT MODERNIZATION SAVES LIVES AND MONEY.

BLACKWELL JOINED NOAA IN 1990 AS AN OFFICER OF THE NOAA CORPS. DURING HER NOAA CORPS CAREER, SHE SERVED ON TWO NOAA SHIPS. SHE JOINED NGS FULL TIME IN 1996.

I MENTIONED AT THE BEGINNING OF THE PODCAST THAT NGS IS THE OLDEST SCIENCE AGENCY IN THE NATION. HOW OLD IS IT? WELL, IT JUST PASSED IT’S 200TH YEAR. NGS TRACES IT ROOTS TO A OFFICE CALLED THE SURVEY OF THE COAST, ESTABLISHED BY THOMAS JEFFERSON IN 1807.

(NEW NOS VIDEO, OCEAN FACTS, AND MORE)
NOW LET’S SHIFT GEARS AND TALK A BIT ABOUT THE NATIONAL OCEAN SERVICE WEB SITE.

HERE’S A QUESTION FOR YOU. WHAT PERCENTAGE OF LIFE ON EARTH IS IN THE OCEAN?

THE ANSWER: THE OCEAN COVERS OVER 70 PERCENT OF THE EARTH’S SURFACE, AND IS OUR PLANET’S LARGEST HABITAT. THE OCEAN HOLDS AN ASTONISHING 99 PERCENT OF THE LIVING SPACE ON THE GLOBE. THIS VAST AREA SUPPORTS THE LIFE OF NEARLY 50 PERCENT OF ALL SPECIES ON EARTH.

AND DID YOU KNOW THAT SCIENTISTS ARE CURRENTLY CONDUCTING THE FIRST EVER “CENSUS OF MARINE LIFE?” THIS PROJECT IS EXPECTED TO BE COMPLETED IN 2010. THE PROJECT WILL BE THE FIRST TIME EVER WE HUMANS HAVE DEVELOPED A COMPREHENSIVE GLOBAL LIST OF ALL FORMS OF LIFE IN THE OCEAN. BY SOME ESTIMATES, A MILLION OR MORE SPECIES REMAIN UNKNOWN, YET TO BE DISCOVERED.

THAT’S EXCITING STUFF. AND IT’S JUST ONE OF MANY OCEAN-RELATED QUESTIONS WE’VE ANSWERED IN A SECTION OF OUR SITE WE CALL OCEAN FACTS.

OCEAN FACTS HAS BEEN UP FOR A COUPLE OF MONTHS NOW, AND WE’RE ADDING TO OUR LIST OF FACTS EACH WEEK. WE THINK IT’S GOING TO GROW INTO A GREAT RESOURCE WHETHER YOU’RE LOOKING FOR A SPECIFIC ANSWER, OR YOUR JUST CURIOUS. LET US KNOW WHAT YOU THINK. MORE IMPORTANTLY, SEND US QUESTIONS YOU HAVE ABOUT THE OCEAN AND WE’LL ADD THEM TO THE LIST.

AND WHEN YOU VISIT, BE SURE TO CHECK OUT A NEW VIDEO PRODUCED BY NOAA’S OCEAN MEDIA CENTER. IT JUST WENT UP ON THE SITE THIS WEEK. THE VIDEO IS A LITTLE MORE THAN SIX MINUTES LONG, AND IT’S A GREAT OVERVIEW OF WHAT THE NATIONAL OCEAN SERVICE DOES. IT’S ALSO A GOOD WAY TO GET A SENSE OF WHAT CHALLENGES WE FACE ON OUR COASTS AND IN OUR OCEANS AROUND THE NATION. AND LAST BUT NOT LEAST, THE VIDEO SHOTS OF OUR OCEANS AND COASTS IS JUST BEAUTIFUL. SO BE SURE TO CHECK IT OUT.

AND FINALLY, I WANT TO MENTION AN ONGOING CUSTOMER SURVEY WE HAVE RUNNING ON THE NOS SITE. WHEN YOU VISIT OCEANSERVICE.NOAA.GOV, A SMALL WINDOW MAY POP UP ASKING IF YOU’D BE WILLING TO TAKE A SHORT SURVEY. THIS SURVEY POPS UP RANDOMLY, SO YOU MAY OR MAY NOT SEE IT. BUT IF YOU DO, WE ASK THAT YOU TAKE JUST A FEW MINUTES TO LET US KNOW HOW WELL THE SITE IS WORKING FOR YOU, AND WHAT WE COULD DO BETTER. YOUR FEEDBACK WOULD BE MUCH APPRECIATED.

(OUTRO)
THAT’S ALL FOR THIS WEEK. ONCE AGAIN, OUR SITE IS AT OCEANSERVICE.NOAA.GOV. AND YOU CAN LEARN MORE ABOUT THE NATIONAL GEODETIC SURVEY ON THE WEB AT GEODESY.NOAA.GOV. THAT’S G-E-O-D-E-S-Y. GEODESY, BY THE WAY, IS A BRANCH OF GEOLOGY. IT’S THE SCIENCE OF DETERMING THE SIZE AND SHAPE OF THE EARTH, AND OF DETERMING EXACT POSITIONS OF GEOGRAPHIC POINTS ON THE GLOBE.

NEXT WEEK’S PODCAST WILL BE A LITTLE DIFFERENT. WE’RE GOING TO INTRODUCE YOU TO A NEW PODCAST FROM NOS CALLED DIVING DEEPER. IT WILL BE COMING OUT ONCE EVERY TWO WEEKS, AND WILL FEATURE IN-DEPTH INTERVIEWS WITH OCEAN SERVICE EXPERTS ABOUT A WIDE VARIETY OF ISSUES. BUT I DON’T WANT TO GIVE IT ALL AWAY. TUNE IN NEXT WEEK TO LEARN MORE.

AS ALWAYS, IF YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS ABOUT THIS WEEK’S PODCAST, ABOUT THE NATIONAL OCEAN SERVICE, OR ABOUT OUR OCEAN, SEND US AN EMAIL AT NOS.WEB@NOAA.GOV.

LET’S BRING IN THE OCEAN ... THIS IS MAKING WAVES FROM NOAA'S NATIONAL OCEAN SERVICE. SEE YOU NEXT TIME.

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