Web Highlight

Web Highlight

Coral reefs are under intense pressure from climate change, pollution, and unsustainable use. So what can we do about it? To answer that question, we need to better understand the main threat to our reefs. Humans. On the latest episode of Making Waves, we talk about the social side of protecting coral reefs with Peter Edwards from NOAA's Coral Reef Conservation Program.

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NOS Communications & Education Division

NOS Assistant Administrator Weekly Newsletter

August 1, 2013

Holly Bamford

Hi everyone,

The National Ocean Service conducts a wide range of programs in the state of Hawaii and throughout the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. These include activities as diverse as real-time monitoring of water levels from the Center for Operational Oceanographic Products and Services and managing the single largest conservation area under the U.S. flag by the Office of National Marine Sanctuaries.

When Tropical Storm Flossie reached Hawaii on Monday, it was the first tropical cyclone to make landfall in the islands since Hurricane Iniki in 1992. Flossie brought flooding rain and gusty winds that caused power outages. Thankfully, the storm did not cause the same widespread destruction that Hurricane Iniki brought more than two decades ago. The storm did, however, highlight the critical importance of end-to-end preparation, response, recovery, and resilience efforts for all of our coastal communities. An important part of preparing communities for hurricanes includes monitoring water levels and predicting storm surge.

NOAA's Coastal Storms Program supports collaborative efforts between NOS and the National Weather Service to develop storm surge products for the Hawaiian Islands. NWS's storm surge predictions require wave and tide conditions to accurately calculate the total water level above ground. NOS provides expertise on tide modeling that is used to upgrade storm surge predictions and supports the development of new NWS storm surge forecast products, including an inundation map.

NOAA's Coastal Services Center is leveraging local resilience planning into one of NOAA's first Sentinel Site Cooperatives. Cooperatives in Hawaii, as well as in San Francisco Bay, Chesapeake Bay, North Carolina, and the Northern Gulf of Mexico, are investigating sea level change and coastal inundation as well as providing authoritative information to local coastal planners and decision makers.

The Hawaiian Islands Sentinel Site Cooperative is a compilation of sites that includes Midway and French Frigate Shoals in the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, He'eia Wetland Restoration project on the island of Oahu, and Kona Coast on the Big Island of Hawaii. The Cooperative contains some of the most productive and unique ecological sites in U.S. waters.

And in case you were wondering why Flossie wouldn't have been called a typhoon, it all has to do with location. Storms that occur in the Northeast Pacific Ocean east of the international date line are called hurricanes.  

Thank you,

Holly A. Bamford, Ph.D.
Assistant Administrator
National Ocean Service

Web Highlight

Web Highlight

Coral reefs are under intense pressure from climate change, pollution, and unsustainable use. So what can we do about it? To answer that question, we need to better understand the main threat to our reefs. Humans. On the latest episode of Making Waves, we talk about the social side of protecting coral reefs with Peter Edwards from NOAA's Coral Reef Conservation Program.

Around NOS

New Guidance on the Economics of Climate Adaptation (CSC)

A new report released by NOAA's Coastal Services Center, What Will Adaptation Cost? An Economic Framework for Coastal Community Infrastructure, provides a framework that community leaders and planners can use to make more economically informed decisions about adapting to sea level rise and storm flooding. The four-step framework offers a holistic assessment of costs and benefits across a community as well as focuses on specific infrastructure. The report also discusses the expertise needed at each step in the process. For more information, contact Heidi Stiller.

Ocean for Life: Students from Middle East and U.S. Immerse in Field Studies in National Marine Sanctuaries (ONMS)

Thirty high school students from seven Middle Eastern countries (Pakistan, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Egypt, Lebanon, and Oman) and 12 states in the U.S. participated in Ocean for Life, an initiative that unifies cultures connected by the global ocean. NOAA's Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary and the Marine Science Institute of the University of California Santa Barbara hosted the students during the two week field study. Ocean for Life is a unique program that brings together Middle Eastern and U.S. high school students of diverse cultures and backgrounds to study marine science, and in the course of that, breaks down stereotypes to strengthen our global relationships. Partners include the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation and GLOBE, a worldwide environmental education program. For more information, contact Claire Fackler or Tracy Hajduk.

Improving Stakeholder Involvement in the Early Stages of a Spill Response (OR&R)

The Coastal Response Research Center Project Task III Workshop was held on July 24-25, at the University of Washington. The project investigated and developed recommendations for better community and stakeholder involvement in the early stages of a spill response and in planning when dispersants are being used or considered. The five topics of the overall project encompass a broad range of disciplines including public mental models, scenario modeling and decision making, information flow through social media, communicating uncertainty, and best practices for community and stakeholder engagement in oil spill preparedness and response. The workshop conducted a cross-disciplinary review of the five proposed white papers. The outcome of the presentations and subsequent discussions were recommendations to the authors on their drafts. For more information, contact Doug Helton.

Sapelo Island NERR Uses Reserve System Data to Train Teachers in Georgia (OCRM)

The Sapelo Island National Estuarine Research Reserve teamed with Georgia Southern University to host a three day Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) teacher workshop focused on understanding System Wide Monitoring Program (SWMP) data and the relevance of the local, regional, and national SWMP programs. This workshop was a "Race to the Top" STEM initiative. Teachers were trained to interpret real-time SWMP data transmitted from GOES telemetry weather and water quality stations. Ultimately, the teachers will take SWMP back to the classroom for hands-on student exposure and interaction. For more information, contact Bree Murphy.

Completion of Vertical Datum for Main Island of Puerto Rico (NGS, CO-OPS)

The National Geodetic Survey recently completed 18 leveling adjustments that make up the mainland adjustment for the Puerto Rico vertical network. Accurate heights are critical for users and greatly benefit height products, such as flood inundation maps, evacuation planning routes, and emergency response and navigational charts. These adjusted projects now define the vertical datum of Puerto Rico (PRVD02). The Puerto Rico islands were connected to each island's tidal benchmark provided by the Center for Operational Oceanographic Products and Services. For more information, contact Timothy Hanson or Dru Smith.

2013 Gulf of Mexico "Dead" Zone is Above Average, But Not Largest (NCCOS)

National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science supported researchers at Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium and Louisiana State University conducted an initial sampling effort in the Gulf of Mexico and found this year's "dead" zone (area of hypoxia or low oxygen) in the northern Gulf of Mexico, west of the Mississippi River delta, covers at least 5,800 square miles of sea floor. The confirmed size differs from the predicted size due to mixed conditions on the southeastern part of the study area and winds from the west which pushed the hypoxic water mass towards the east which reduced the bottom area footprint measured during this field effort.  While not the largest (in 2002, it was 8,481 square miles), this year's "dead" zone is above the long-term average and above the average size of the last five years. It also exceeds the Gulf of Mexico Nutrient Task Force goal of less than 5,000 square miles. An additional field sampling effort is underway and will be averaged with this week's data as the recorded size for 2013. For more information, contact David Kidwell or Alan Lewitus.

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