Sustainable, Robust Coastal Economies

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Did you know that 57 percent of our nation’s gross domestic product is generated in the 673 counties that line our ocean and Great Lakes waters? Or that nearly 80 percent of our overseas trade by volume comes and goes along our marine highways? In fiscal year 2010, NOS was once again hard at work providing the right information, tools, and services needed to keep this coastal economic engine running.

  • PORTS® Innovative Technology to Meet User Requirements
    NOAA’s Physical Oceanographic Real-Time System (PORTS®) program integrated visibility sensors at Mobile Bay, Alabama, to help guide users in navigation-related decisions.  Data from the two new visibility sensors are now publicly available on the Mobile Bay PORTS® web page. The new sensor capability meets a long-standing customer request to deliver reliable visibility information during challenging environmental conditions.  The first PORTS® visibility sensor was installed at Pinto Island, Alabama (NOS ID: 8737005).  A second sensor was installed at Middle Bay Port (NOS ID: 8736163).  Visibility data in the Mobile Bay are critical, as the bay is susceptible to heavy fog beginning in the fall at the upper end of the bay and lasting into the winter months where the middle of the bay is especially affected.  This effort was made possible by partnerships among the Center for Oceanographic Products and Services, the Office of Coast Survey, the National Weather Service, the Alabama State Port Authority, and Alabama Power. 

    NOAA’s PORTS® plays an important role in providing the most reliable and up-to-date decision-support tools that help vessels safely and efficiently navigate within U.S. waters. In addition to visibility technology, CO-OPS has partnered with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Scripps Institution of Oceanography to integrate wave buoy data into the suite of PORTS® products at four stations located within PORTS® systems in California, Oregon, and Virginia.  Surface waves have a profound impact on navigation, recreation, and maritime commerce, and with PORTS® users can use wave information to assist with secure and safe port operations.

  • Modernization Plans for National Spatial Reference System Introduced at Federal Geospatial Summits
    In May, the National Geodetic Survey hosted the first in a series of Federal Geospatial Summits to apprise the entire geospatial community of its efforts to improve and modernize the National Spatial Reference System (NSRS)—the official U.S. government source for determining precise latitude, longitude, and elevation. NGS has embarked on a ten-year process of removing inaccuracies in the existing U.S. datums and is seeking to engage the user community to make the transition to new datums as seamless as possible.

    A modernized NSRS will allow users to calculate accurate positions using a survey-grade global positioning system (GPS) receiver in conjunction with a scientific model of Earth’s gravity field. Improved position accuracies will aid in levee construction projects designed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the design of evacuation routes in hurricane-prone areas, and sea-level change forecasting in coastal communities. Proposed NSRS improvements will also allow us to better track changes in our dynamic world and to improve and update digital maps.

  • NOAA Advances Safe Navigation and Creates New Jobs under American Recovery and Reinvestment Act
    Approximately $40 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funding awarded to NOAA for hydrographic surveys and related projects were obligated to private-sector contracts to support safe and efficient maritime transportation and other uses.  ARRA funds have enabled NOAA to acquire nearly 2,000 square nautical miles of hydrographic data beyond that which the agency’s regular appropriations would have funded.  These data are essential for safe navigation and have many other beneficial uses, including marine spatial planning, emergency preparation and response, coastal zone management, and coastal ocean science.  ARRA funds have aided in generating 460 miles of updated shoreline in Louisiana as well as updated shorelines for the U.S. portions of Lakes Ontario, Erie, Huron, and Superior, and for 27 top U.S. ports.  NOAA’s Office of Coast Survey awarded more than $31 million in hydrographic contracts to eight private-sector firms as a result of the ARRA.  The surveys covered areas that had not been surveyed for more than 70 years and covered the coastal waters of Alabama, Alaska, California, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Maryland, Virginia, and Washington. In terms of job creation, one hydrographic-survey contractor reported 85 new jobs resulting from an $8.4 million contract – the largest number of ARRA-funded jobs from any one NOAA contract.
  • Data Integration Framework Pilot Project Completed
    The NOAA Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS) program lead the Data Integration Framework (DIF) project, a three-year risk reduction effort to make selected NOAA and non-NOAA ocean observation data interoperable (i.e., work together), thereby increasing the value and utility of the data for associated decision-support tools, products, and services. To complete this limited-scope implementation of IOOS data management capabilities, IOOS focused on an initial set of seven oceanographic observations – temperature, salinity, water level, currents, winds, waves, and ocean color and selected three NOAA data providers for DIF implementation – the National Data Buoy Center (NDBC), the NOAA CoastWatch, and the Center for Operational Oceanographic Products and Services (CO-OPS). IOOS also targeted four NOAA applications for data delivery – harmful algal bloom forecasts, coastal inundation predictions, integrated ecosystem assessments, and hurricane intensity forecasts. The NDBC, CoastWatch, and CO-OPS data services remain available after the pilot project and will form the core of the IOOS data services that are being augmented to offer new datasets and capabilities.