NOAA Coastal Services Center

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The NOAA Coastal Services Center provides skills and information resources to state and local resource managers.  Focus areas include hazards, habitats, sustainable communities, and data information access and usability.

Center highlights from fiscal year 2009 include:

  • Developing a marine information system to support decision making on ocean issues. Section 388 of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 directed the establishment of a mapping initiative that supports decision making related to alternative energy uses on the Outer Continental Shelf. The Multipurpose Marine Cadastre (MMC) helps to fulfill that directive. The MMC is a multi-agency effort to build a marine information system for U.S. waters that provides authoritative geospatial data, visualizations, and supporting information. The NOAA Coastal Services Center has been a leader in the MMC initiative and continues to play a major role by creating and maintaining the Web site, fostering project partnerships, and developing geospatial data and mapping applications.

    The MMC’s combination of marine cadastral and regionally specific data provides users with the context needed to address issues that include alternative energy siting, aquaculture, submerged lands leasing, marine conservation, and comprehensive marine spatial planning.

  • Building a tool that bolsters Hawaii’s capacity to respond to floods. The Hawaii Flood Response Tool is a geographic information system (GIS) application for emergency managers that improves the state’s ability to respond to floods and flood threats. The application provides centralized access to real-time data from multiple sources such as imagery from satellite and radar and data on precipitation and streamflow. This information can be combined with local GIS data to help emergency managers and first responders make critical decisions related to flood events.

    The Hawaii Flood Response Tool was a multi-partner effort that included NOAA’s Pacific Services Center, the National Weather Service (NWS) Pacific Region Headquarters, and the NWS Honolulu Forecast Office, as well as a multitude of other federal agencies and private-sector partners. The application was installed at the Pacific Disaster Center in August 2009, followed by installation at the local civil defense agencies in Hawaii.

  • Supporting the Pacific Risk Management ‘Ohana (PRiMO). PRiMO is a consortium of local, national, and regional agencies and organizations committed to enhancing the hazard resilience of Pacific Island communities. More than 80 participants from nine island jurisdictions attended PRiMO’s first partners meeting in the Western Pacific, which took place on Guam in March 2009. The meeting engaged new partners in the PRiMO mission and highlighted strategies for enhancing resilience to coastal inundation from tsunamis, storm surge, high surf, elevated sea level, and climate change.

    Meeting facilitators provided new and updated regional information on coastal inundation risks and impacts to this diverse group of elected officials, resource managers, emergency managers, administrators, and technical experts. Attendants addressed strategies for enlarging their inundation-risk capacity through improvements in land-use management, education and outreach, social and economic vulnerability assessments, hazard modeling, and warning communications.

  • Offering a course that outlines alternative development approaches for coastal communities. Many coastal communities recognize the need for improved land-use planning and desire a more detailed understanding of strategies for implementing alternative development. An introductory course, Coastal Community Planning and Development (CCPD), enables participants to understand, plan, and guide efforts to implement alternative growth and development approaches in their coastal communities. CCPD training provides participants with the examples, strategies, and background information needed to support alternative development efforts. The course was developed by NOAA, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and state coastal resource management agencies.
  • Highlighting local strategies used to address climate change. The nation’s coastal communities realize the need to prepare for climate change. But which preparations make the most sense? To help communities answer this question, the NOAA Coastal Services Center produced a special-edition publication, Local Strategies for Climate Change, which features stories originally published in the Center’s magazine, Coastal Services. Articles highlight a variety of strategies, from the Florida program that supports the retrofitting of homes to the hazard information portal developed for Maryland homeowners. The publication also includes descriptions of NOAA data and tools available to coastal communities to help strengthen coastal resilience, encourage smart- or green-growth initiatives, reduce runoff, and improve water quality.
  • Supporting initiatives to enhance regional ocean governance. The NOAA Coastal Services Center continues to provide strong support for regional ocean governance efforts across the country. In 2009, the Center worked on the following initiatives: assisting with the development and initial implementation of the second Gulf of Mexico Alliance Governors’ Action Plan for Healthy and Resilient Coasts; assisting with the development and release of eight work plans designed to carry out the West Coast Governors’ Agreement on Ocean Health Action Plan; and assisting with the development and finalization of work plans for the Northeast Regional Ocean Council. The priority issues addressed by these plans are wide-ranging—including improved water quality and enhanced community resilience in the Gulf of Mexico, climate change and sea-floor mapping on the West Coast, and ocean energy planning and management in the Northeast. Each group of partners shares the common goal of bringing together federal, state, and non-governmental organizations at the regional level to improve the ecosystem health of our oceans and coasts.
  • Developing and delivering an adaptation planning course to aid international stakeholders. NOAA staff members developed and delivered the 10-day training program, Planning for Climate Change in the Coastal and Marine Environment, in Vietnam, the Philippines, and the Galapagos Islands. In 2009, the course was completed by approximately 150 participants from local marine protected areas and from national, regional, and local governments. NOAA staff members are currently adapting the curriculum for use in U.S. communities.

    This training program helps to build resilient communities by educating local governments on climate change and its impacts on the marine environment. Participants learned strategies for conducting vulnerability and risk assessments along with varied methods of adaptation planning. The courses were co-sponsored by NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries and Coastal Services Center, and by Conservation International, the World Wildlife Fund, University of Rhode Island’s Coastal Resources Center, San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission, and the Danish foreign aid agency, DANIDA. In addition, a condensed version of the program was delivered as part of the Marine Protected Area University in association with the International Marine Conservation Conference.
  • Organized two national conferences that drew hundreds of coastal professionals. The two biennial conferences organized by the NOAA Coastal Services Center—Coastal GeoTools 2009 and Coastal Zone 09—were attended and praised by hundreds of national and international coastal professionals.

    The 2009 Coastal GeoTools theme, “Building the Digital Coast,” refers to a new technological gateway to important tools, training, and information for coastal managers that is being developed by the Center and many partners. The conference presentations and trainings, held the week of March 2 in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, provided attendants with easy ways to explore existing and emerging technology and discover their successful use in the wise management of the nation’s coastal resources.

    More than 800 ocean and coastal management practitioners gathered in Boston, Massachusetts, for the 16th biennial Coastal Zone (CZ09) conference the week of July 20. The theme of the conference, “Revolutionary Times: Catching the Wave of Change,” highlighted this important opportunity for coastal professionals to learn and share effective management approaches during a time of rapid transformation. Conference topics discussed included the national climate change strategy, regional ocean governance, coastal conservation and restoration, marine protection areas, and land use planning.

  • Helping to develop the NOAA Honua Project to increase environmental literacy in Hawaii. As part of the NOAA mission to advance environmental literacy, the NOAA Pacific Services Center has helped to develop the Honua program, a suite of educational and outreach products aimed at increasing environmental understanding and awareness in the Pacific Islands region. As part of Honua, several three-dimensional spherical visualization tools—Science on a Sphere (SoS), Eluminati Domes, and Global Imagination’s portable Magic Planet (MP)—provide the public with valuable Earth-systems data and information in a format that is easily understood.

    In 2009, information about NOAA’s science, data, and services—illustrated via Honua visualization tools—reached thousands of people throughout the Hawaiian Islands. In addition, the creation of touch-screen interfaces and kiosks provides even greater opportunities to increase environmental literacy. As part of the project, data visualizations were also transferred to a flat-screen medium, thereby providing NOAA’s data to audiences lacking access to SoS and MP.

  • Providing training on coastal inundation mapping skills to enhance community resilience. Coastal inundation maps overlaid with multiple types of data can help coastal professionals increase hazards awareness and preparedness, determine potential flooding impacts, encourage long-term planning and coastal resilience, and pave the way for community risk and vulnerability assessments. The NOAA Coastal Service Center’s new course, Coastal Inundation Mapping, helps clarify the topic for participants as they increase their mapping skills and gain access to a large collection of data from NOAA and other agencies, including water level data, elevation data, flood models, geodetic and tidal datums, and other information.