NOS Assistant Administrator Weekly Update

Hi everyone,

Earlier this month, the President released the FY 2015 Budget Request. The total request for NOS is $496,214,000 for operations, research, and facilities (ORF) and procurement, acquisition, and construction (PAC). This represents an increase of just over $20 million when compared to the FY 2014 enacted budget.

The increase over last year is a positive indicator of the value of NOS programs. At the same time, we recognize that we do not have the resources to sustain fixed costs in today’s fiscal landscape. The FY 2015 budget request proposes to close the Beaufort, North Carolina, laboratory and to consolidate lab operations in Charleston, South Carolina. This proposal was driven by the need to reduce fixed costs associated with operating and maintaining facilities. Reducing fixed costs and re-investing in direct science activities is intended to result in a stronger science organization in the long term. Dr. Russell Callender and I recently traveled to Charleston and Beaufort, respectively, to share information about these actions with employees and partners there.

In addition, there are certain amounts that were added to the FY 2014 budget during the appropriations process that were not continued in the FY 2015 President's budget request. This includes $3.8 million for the Disaster Response Center and NCCOS science activities, $2 million for sanctuaries operations, and $4 million for Regional Geospatial Modeling Grants.

The overall picture for the NOS budget is positive. The budget request includes critical investments in products, services, and capabilities that will improve the resilience of the nation’s coasts to immediate hazards and long-term risks. Following are program changes; the numbers represent changes with respect to FY 2014 base amounts:

  • $4 million for topographic-bathymetric LIDAR mapping
  • $1 million for marine sensor innovation supporting integrated ocean observing regional observations
  • $1.3 million for Arctic oil spill preparedness
  • $4 million for ecological forecasts
  • $6 million for competitive research grants supporting coastal and ocean science
  • $5 million to enhance capacity to respond to extreme events under coastal zone management
  • $5 million for regional coastal resilience grants

There are still a number of steps to go before the FY 2015 budget is final. The budget request now goes to Congress for deliberation. This month, I've joined Dr. Russell Callender, NOS CFO Chris Cartwright, and others in briefing members of Congress and staff on the importance of NOS activities in support of the budget. Earlier this week, we joined the program office directors at the Consortium for Ocean Leadership to brief more than 70 constituents on the budget. The overwhelming response we have received from these briefings is that NOS is on the right path in focusing our resources to support the long-term sustainability of the organization. Additional information about the FY 2015 budget request may be found on the NOS website.

On a final note, I would like to thank the folks at the Center for Operational Oceanographic Products and Services (CO-OPS) for arranging a meeting with The Weather Channel (TWC) last week. The focus of the meeting was to continue the ongoing collaboration between CO-OPS and TWC to provide access to real-time water level data, communicate storm surge and inundation information to the public, and better understand the science behind other weather-related ocean issues. Discussions included an overview of the state of sea level science, demonstrations of sea level products and visualization tools from the Office of Coast Survey and Coastal Services Center, and a discussion on public health issues as they relate to climate change. There were also joint discussions with NOS and the National Weather Service regarding challenges in the media communicating risks associated with rip currents. This multi-office collaboration with The Weather Channel helps NOS support coastal resilience.

Thank you,

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

Around NOS

Texas City "Y" Response in Galveston Bay

On March 22, the 585 foot bulk carrier M/V Summer Wind collided with the oil tank-barge Kirby 27706. The incident occurred in Galveston Bay near Texas City, Texas. The Kirby's tank was punctured, spilling approximately 168,000 gallons of oil. It is now aground and the remaining oil has been removed. The M/V Summer Wind is stable at a nearby anchorage and is not leaking oil. The Port of Houston was closed for 3 days as a result of the incident and as of March 25, limited vessel traffic was allowed. NOAA is providing scientific support to the U.S. Coast Guard, including forecasts of the floating oil movement, shoreline assessment, information management, overflight tracking of the oil, weather forecasts, and natural and economic resources at risk. Marine mammal and turtle stranding network personnel are also standing by and the NOAA Weather Service Incident Meteorologist is on-scene. Natural resource damage assessment personnel will be at Galveston Bay to initiate studies that could be used to identify injured resource and restoration needs.

Contact: Doug Helton

New Mokupāpapa Discovery Center Holds Grand Reopening

NOAA's Mokupāpapa Discovery Center in Hilo, Hawaii, reopened its doors to the public last week after nearly a year of renovations, unveiling a new 20,000-square-foot facility that's five times the size of its previous location. More than 1,000 visitors flocked to the discovery center's grand opening event on March 15, following a blessing and private VIP event the night before that was attended by nearly 300 guests including leadership from NOAA's Office of National Marine Sanctuaries, Hilo business community members, and state elected officials. Located in Hilo's historic Koehnen's Ltd. Building, the expanded and revamped discovery center features exhibits including interactive displays and kiosks, wall-sized graphic panels with interpretive text in both Hawaiian and English, and a 3,500-gallon saltwater aquarium that showcases some of the unique fish species that inhabit Northwestern Hawaiian Island reefs.

Contact: Andy Collins

Collaborating with NASA to Conduct Survey

In collaboration with NASA, a survey team from NGS completed a local site survey at the Kokee Park Geophysical Observatory (KPGO) on the island of Kauai, Hawaii. Due to its remote location and the co-location of three space geodesy technique instruments at the site, KPGO is an especially important component of the International Earth Rotation & Reference Systems Service (IERS) tracking network. The IERS uses information measured during local site surveys and observations from other space geodesy techniques to compute realizations of the International Terrestrial Reference Frame (ITRF)—the global coordinate system. This survey will contribute to future ITRF realizations, which is important in monitoring plate tectonics, measuring regional subsidence or uplift, providing consistency between navigation systems, and determining the rate of sea level rise, among other critical applications.

Contact: Kendall Fancher

Grant Supports the Cultural Heritage of Working Waterfront Communities

A project to capture both oral histories on working waterfront issues and the community efforts to preserve working waterfronts received a $9,000 grant from the NOAA Preserve America Initiative. Interviewees for the Voices from the Working Waterfront project will include land use planners, community organizers, waterfront business owners, and fishermen. These oral histories will be archived in the Voices from the Fisheries database and linked to the National Working Waterfront Network website for public access. The grant funds were awarded to NOAA's OCRM. The National Sea Grant Law Center will provide the primary administrative support for this project, with assistance from Maine Sea Grant to coordinate planning, implementation, dissemination, and archiving of the oral histories.

Contact Person: Kenneth Walker

Evidence of Climate-related Algal Community Shifts off North Carolina

At least seven species of marine algae previously restricted to more tropical waters have expanded their range northward to the temperate reefs off North Carolina. Reports of seven other new algae species are under investigation to determine if they also represent a tropical shift in North Carolina's algal flora. Researchers from NCCOS and the University of North Carolina, Wilmington, made these discoveries, as well as three species new to science, during an ecological characterization of the marine communities on North Carolina's rocky reefs. Globally, these reefs are becoming more tropical, making them important regions for detecting the effects of climate change. Algal distributions on these reefs are largely influenced by winter bottom water temperature and depth, and, as a result, will be critical in developing a better, more predictive, understanding of climate-associated responses in marine communities. This work included the most spatially comprehensive marine algal collections since the 1970s.

Contact: Paula Whitfield

NOS Assistant Administrator
Dr. Holly Bamford with Chris Samsury

Dr. Holly Bamford with Chris Samsury, vice president of Weather Experts and Michael Lowry, hurricane specialist from The Weather Channel following a meeting last week to talk about the importance of NOS products feeding into The Weather Channel.

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