NOS Assistant Administrator Weekly Update

Last week, NOAA announced Muskegon Lake in Michigan and the St. Louis River Estuary in Minnesota and Wisconsin as the next Habitat Focus Areas under NOAA's Habitat Blueprint. Both are listed as "Areas of Concern" under the international Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement. Previously announced Habitat Focus Areas include sites in Guam and Hawaii, as well as the Russian River watershed in California.

NOS is the lead line office for the St. Louis River Estuary focus area. The Lake Superior National Estuarine Research Reserve (NERR) is located within this focus area. The NERR will guide development of the implementation plan and coordinate with the many local and regional stakeholders who will be engaged in carrying out the plan. This is a NOAA-wide effort with extensive NOS involvement. In addition to the NERR efforts, data from National Geodetic Survey elevation benchmarks and the Center for Operational Oceanographic Products and Services (CO-OPS) water level stations in the area will be used to develop local inundation and flooding information to inform decision-making. The Office of Response and Restoration will also be involved from the marine debris perspective as well as supporting damage assessment, remediation, and restoration.

NOS offices are also involved with the Muskegon Lake Habitat Focus Area. For example, land near Muskegon Lake is being considered for acquisition under the Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management's Coastal and Estuarine Land Conservation Project. Additionally, CO-OPS operates and maintains a water level gauge in nearby Holland, Mich.

These are excellent examples of how NOS can bring to bear a diverse set of resources to advance healthy habitats. My thanks goes out to all who are involved in this effort.

I'd like to switch gears for just a moment. On April 1, 2014, all program offices in NOS will adopt a new budget structure that is consistent with our ongoing effort to refocus and improve coordination and collaboration among activities that support NOS priorities. As discussed at the last All Hands meeting, NOS has reduced the number of program/project/activities (PPAs) by more than half. NOS's budget will now reflect three sub-programs under the Operations, Research, and Facilities (ORF) account:

  • Navigation, Observations, and Positioning (includes NOAA's physical oceanographic activities)
  • Coastal Science and Assessment (includes research, assessment, and monitoring programs)
  • Ocean and Coastal Management and Services

This change affects most of the accounting codes we currently use. The default accounting codes in systems like WebTA and Travel Manager will need to be updated. In the coming months, the Resource Management Division in NOS headquarters will work closely with each program's budget contacts to ensure a smooth transition. In the meantime, if you have any questions, please contact Robert Ransom or Renee Galloway.

Thank you,

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

Around NOS

Joint Workshop with China on Oil Spill Impacts to Living Marine Resources

A delegation of eight visiting scientists from the Chinese Academy of Fishery Sciences (China's counterpart agency to NOAA's National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS)), were in Seattle this week for the 10th meeting of the U.S.-China Living Marine Resources Panel. An additional one-day workshop was conducted to examine NOAA's response to oil spills and impacts on seafood safety and living marine resources. OR&R presented the National Response System to oil spills in the U.S., how OR&R responds on a continuum from initial response and injury assessment to restoration, and also the vast capabilities of other NOAA offices that can be brought in for support. NMFS scientists described seafood safety surveillance techniques and the state of the science on oil toxicity to fish early life stages. The Chinese scientists related their work following several oil spills as well. Points of collaboration and topics for sharing were identified to benefit both countries.

Contact: John Tarpley

A Child's Sanctuary Hits the Road

In the past two weeks, sanctuary staff took A Child's Sanctuary programming on the road to Norwell and Brewster, Mass., and to Silver Spring, Md. Maritime archaeologists and a volunteer program coordinator trained a total of 15 staff and volunteers from South Shore Natural Science Center and Cape Cod Museum of Natural History. A total of three events were held with these partners, reaching 1,600 members of the public directly and thousands more indirectly through event promotions. The sanctuary team was invited to Silver Spring to offer their Preserve America-funded program at the official opening of the "Treasures of NOAA's Ark" exhibit at the Maryland Science Center in Baltimore and for NOAA Heritage Week's Open House where 1,400 adults and children enjoyed the maritime heritage-themed activities.

Contact: Anne-Marie Runfola

Sharing Geospatial Expertise with International Delegation from Costa Rica

Costa Rica is initiating a project to modernize its geospatial reference system and has identified NGS as a world leader in geospatial datums and reference frame design. On February 24, NGS hosted representatives from a professional engineering society in Costa Rica to brief them on the organizational history and structure of NGS and provide information on NGS' major geodetic products and services, including the National Spatial Reference System (NSRS). This opportunity to share expertise about the U.S. geodetic reference system and review NGS development strategies provided an overview of several ongoing projects to modernize the NSRS. This is the first time NGS hosted representatives from Costa Rica.

Contact: Colin Becker

New Mexican Radars Improve U.S. Ability to Respond to Oil Spills, Search and Rescue Cases

IOOS is now providing data from three new high frequency (HF) radars at Bahia de Todos Santos in the Mexican state of Baja California. HF radar systems measure surface current speed and direction to improve search and rescue, oil spill response, harmful algal bloom monitoring, water quality assessments, ecosystem assessments, and fisheries management. The Pacific Islands region of U.S. IOOS guided the radar deployment. U.S. IOOS data servers are ingesting, processing, and displaying data from the new radars. New data expands the North American HF radar coverage and is helpful in responding to oil spills and in search and rescue cases that are not confined to national boundaries.

Contact: Jack Harlan

Data Release and Updates Show New England's Changing Coastal Landscape

New 2010 land cover for Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Rhode Island, Connecticut, and Massachusetts are now available. Along with these new data, the previously released 1996, 2001, and 2006 land cover have been improved with changes to wetland and developed features. Coastal Change Analysis Program (C-CAP) products are nationally standardized and updated every five years. These products supply critical information on regional development trends, habitat losses and gains, changes in sources of pollution or sedimentation, and other factors affecting coastal ecosystem health. These data are significant in that four dates, nearly 15 years, of consistent, accurate land cover now exist allowing for analysis of the rapidly changing coastal landscape. C-CAP data can be downloaded from the Digital Coast.

Contact: John McCombs

Free PDF Nautical Charts Are Now a Permanent Product

Coast Survey announced last week that following a three-month trial period, PDF versions of NOAA nautical charts are a permanent product, free to the public. The free PDFs, which are images of traditional nautical charts, are especially valued by recreational boaters who use them to plan sailing routes and fishing trips. The PDF charts are part of a suite of new and enhanced navigational products designed to make NOAA's data more accessible to the general public. Up-to-date charts help boaters avoid groundings and other dangers to navigation, so Coast Survey's aim is to get charts into the hands of as many boaters as possible. Within about 90 days of the product's beta release, nearly 2.3 million charts were downloaded, which represents more than two million opportunities to avoid an accident at sea.

Contact: CAPT Shep Smith

CO-OPS Supports Presidential Climate Action Plan by Providing Sea level Rise and Extreme Water Level Expertise

Recently, CO-OPS oceanographers attended two meetings to provide expertise in sea level variations and extreme water levels. The first meeting, hosted by the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers in New York, was attended by CO-OPS as part of a development team for an engineering technical letter documenting "Procedures to Evaluate Extreme Water Levels at USACE Projects." The second meeting was a Department of Defense (DOD) Coastal Assessment Regional Scenario Working Group meeting held in Washington, D.C., to address risk assessment of sea level rise and extreme water levels at DOD facilities world-wide. The goal for each of these projects was to determine best practices and methodologies for the assessments, from a larger contextual approach and on an individual place-based approach. Both of these projects are in alignment with the recently released Presidential Climate Action Plan.

Contact: Stephen Gill

New Ridge-to-Reef Study of St. Croix East End Marine Park Supports Local Watershed Management Actions

NCCOS researchers and managers from the St. Croix East End Marine Park recently collaborated to characterize and assess the status of the park's marine environment as well as identify areas where land-based threats—like pollution and runoff—may impact coral reef ecosystems in the park. Scientists examined the park from a ridge-to-reef standpoint, investigating factors such as land cover; the presence of dirt roads; and the distribution of marine habitats, sea floor life, and reef fish assemblages. The team also scoured published literature and field survey data to identify and locate specific coral species that may be more sensitive to land-based sources of pollution. The data collected and the maps produced by the team are expected to help managers and scientists better understand land-sea connections and prioritize management actions during the upcoming revision of the park's management plan. The project was funded by NCCOS, NOAA's Coral Reef Conservation Program, and the National Park Service.

Contact: Alicia Clarke

NOS Assistant Administrator
NOS Assistant Administrator Holly Bamford

NOS Assistant Administrator
Dr. Holly Bamford

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