U.S. flag An official website of the United States government.

dot gov icon Official websites use .gov

A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

https icon Secure websites use HTTPS

A small lock or https:// means you’ve safely connected to a .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science

NOS Fiscal Year 2021 Year in Review

NOAA’s National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science (NCCOS) delivers ecosystem science solutions for stewardship of the nation’s ocean and coastal resources, in direct support of NOS priorities, offices, and customers, and to sustain thriving coastal communities and economies.

Addressing the Climate Crisis Through Offshore Wind Energy


NCCOS data and analyses are informing the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management’s (BOEM) offshore wind energy siting decisions. NCCOS is working jointly with BOEM along the nation’s coasts to provide geophysical assessments of the seafloor, study the marine life found there, and create models that predict the broader spatial and temporal distribution and abundance of fish, birds, corals, and marine mammals. NCCOS’s social value surveys measure coastal community support for or against offshore wind energy development, enabling BOEM to anticipate concerns and engage stakeholders more meaningfully. These products are helping advance the president’s clean energy goal of deploying 30 gigawatts of offshore wind energy by 2030, while minimizing the wind industry’s impacts on protected species, habitats, and commercial and recreational fishing.

Wind farm on dark blue water with light blue sky in the background.

Wind farm off the coast of Block Island, Rhode Island.

Providing Tools to Forecast and Control Harmful Algal Blooms


The Florida harmful algal bloom respiratory forecast — launched by NCCOS and partners in 2018 for Pinellas County, Florida — now includes more than 20 Gulf Coast beaches, with efforts underway to expand the forecast to Florida Panhandle and Texas beaches. The forecast helps beachgoers, especially those with respiratory conditions, know the daily severity of airborne red tide toxins at area beaches. In Ohio, the Army Corps of Engineers is using NCCOS technology to control cyanobacteria and their toxins in the Maumee River, which flows into Lake Erie. Along the Maine and Rhode Island coasts, partners deployed NCCOS sensors that detect the algal toxin domoic acid and alert managers to levels that can contaminate shellfish and threaten public health.

Two images. The left shows a harmful algal bloom on the water, the right shows the same stretch of water clean after nanobubble ozone treatment.

South end of Lake Newport, Ohio, before (left) and after (right), after seven days of nanobubble ozone treatment to eradicate a cyanobacteria bloom.

Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment Published for L.A. County


Coastal communities are increasingly vulnerable to the effects of climate change, such as sea level rise and coastal erosion. NCCOS researchers assessed vulnerability to climate change and coastal hazards in Los Angeles County, California — the most populous county in the nation. The team integrated social, structural, and natural resource vulnerability components with coastal flooding, stormwater flooding, erosion, drought, heat, and wildfire risk to identify vulnerable geographic areas in the county. Local planners and decision-makers are using the information to protect their communities, and to plan for and manage climate and coastal impacts.

A home on stilts close to the water.

Los Angeles County home at risk from coastal flooding and erosion.

Data Atlases Promote Expansion of U.S. Aquaculture Industry


In support of an Executive Order to establish Aquaculture Opportunity Areas (AOAs), NCCOS developed marine spatial data atlases to help NOAA identify locations for sustainable commercial aquaculture in the Gulf of Mexico and Southern California Bight. AOAs are areas that show high potential for a variety of aquaculture, while minimizing interactions with other ocean enterprises, such as shipping, fishing, and military activity. Developing sustainable aquaculture will strengthen our coastal economies and increase our nation’s food security. With over 200 data layers and novel modeling approaches, the atlases, which were released in November 2021, provide the most comprehensive spatial analyses ever developed for any U.S. ocean space to locate the most suitable areas for aquaculture in both regions.

Map showing the Gulf of Mexico. Different colors indicate locations where offshore aquaculture is suitable.

General study areas in the Gulf of Mexico, where NOAA identified specific locations suitable for offshore aquaculture.

Coral Restoration Efforts in Florida and Gulf of Mexico


Stony coral tissue loss disease is infecting and killing roughly half of the Florida reef tract’s hard coral species, including pillar coral — a species listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. NCCOS scientists have successfully treated and rehabilitated diseased pillar coral rescued from the region. The saved pillar coral fragments now await a time when they can be used to restore the species to the wild. The work supports NOAA’s larger Mission: Iconic Reefs project, which calls for restoring nearly three million square feet of the Florida reef tract over the next 20 years. NCCOS and partners are also developing lab-based, coral propagation methods to cultivate field samples of mesophotic (mid-depth) corals injured by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Ultimately, when transplanted back to the Gulf of Mexico, the cultivated corals will speed up recovery times of areas affected by the spill.

Blue-toned coral fragments in a lab.

Pillar coral fragments rescued from the Florida reef tract and successfully treated to stop stony coral tissue loss disease, shown here in an aquarium at the Hollings Marine Laboratory in Charleston, South Carolina. The fragments will be used to restore the species to the wild in support of NOAA’s Mission: Iconic Reefs project.