Protecting Human Health and Coastal Economies with Early Warnings

NOS Plays a Vital Role in Advancing Ecological Forecasting

The health of our coastal communities, economies, and ecosystems depend on our understanding of complex and constantly changing conditions. A key way that the National Ocean Service is addressing these challenges is by advancing ecological forecasting. Much like a weather forecast helps communities, businesses, and citizens make decisions, an ecological forecast provides information that helps decision makers prepare for and respond to changes in ecosystems. In the case of ecological forecasting, changes are driven by environmental drivers such as climate variability, extreme weather conditions, pollution, or habitat change.

For more than a decade, National Ocean Service programs have been developing experimental forecasts in areas such as pathogens, hypoxia, sea level change,  and distributions of habitat and key species, as well as operational harmful algal bloom forecasts. NOS plays a vital role in advancing ecological forecasting. To expand and complement that effort, we are working with our colleagues across NOAA to implement NOAA's Ecological Forecasting Roadmap. The Roadmap is a plan to deliver coordinated, accurate, and resource-efficient ecological forecast products across our agency.

NOS is working with our counterparts in the National Weather Service and other parts of NOAA to move forecasts from experimental to operational—and to reach wider audiences with forecast information. Here's just one example. In February 2013, the Tampa Weather Forecast Office released the first-ever NOAA public alert for Red Tide impacts via a Beach Hazards Statement.  By utilizing this broad and effective communications mechanism, visibility of this NOS product increased by over 400 percent!

I'm proud that NOS plays a key role in such an important effort.

Holly A. Bamford, Ph.D.
Assistant Administrator for Ocean Services and Coastal
Zone Management, National Ocean Service