In response to Sandy, Congress passed the Sandy Supplemental (Public Law 113-2), which provides funding to NOS for mapping, charting, geodesy, modeling, marine debris, preparedness, resiliency, and coastal recovery technical assistance. Funds also support repairs to facilities and coastal observing infrastructure, as well as new capacity-building projects. These supplemental funds are not limited to supporting post-Sandy rebuilding and recovery—the funds enable us to better prepare for future extreme weather events and plan for long-term coastal resilience. The lessons learned from Sandy provide an opportunity to improve how we do business so that coastal U.S. communities are better positioned to handle the next storm. The following is a compilation of projects, activities, and efforts now underway.
1. A more resilient U.S. coastal zone
We are working to create a more resilient coastal zone by improving preparation, response, and recovery from challenges to coastal communities and ecosystems. These activities ensure we provide citizens, planners, emergency managers, and other decision makers with the reliable information they need when they need it.
- All-Hazards Response Plan: focusing on our capacity to respond to extreme events, to identify existing gaps, and to highlight associated training opportunities to fill gaps over the next one to three years.
- Federal Interagency Floodplain Management (FIFM) Task Force: providing assistance and coordination regarding flood risk management issues.
- Coastal Resilience Network grants: funding opportunities to increase coastal community resilience in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut with five competitively selected projects. Each two-year effort is focused on helping communities successfully address the negative impacts associated with climate change and other coastal hazards. Project efforts are performed in conjunction with other recovery efforts to expand the reach and effectiveness of all resilience investments in the region.
- Economic assessment of Sandy-impacted areas: developing estimates of the economic value associated with Sandy-related restoration work by examining two restoration projects—one being undertaken in Jamaica Bay in New York, and the other at Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge in New Jersey. This project will: enumerate the ecosystem services provided by these restoration efforts; articulate stakeholders benefits; select specific ecosystem services to assess; identify a valuation method; and estimate values.
- Marine debris assessment and removal activities: identifying marine debris hot-spots through assessment of debris abundance and distribution using satellite imagery, sonar, on-the-ground reports, and marine debris probability models developed after Hurricane Katrina. With support from the NOAA Marine Debris Program, five impacted states and New York City have formal agreements in place and have started to clean up debris.
- National Disaster Recovery Framework: participation in this multi-agency organization, playing a more visible and strategic role in the development of a nationwide framework for recovery.
- Leadership in the National Mitigation Framework: addressing how the nation will develop, employ, and coordinate core mitigation capabilities to reduce loss of life and property by lessening the impact of disasters.
- NOAA Coastal Storms program: investing in the Mid-Atlantic by bringing together organizations, both within NOAA and beyond, for the sole purpose of making communities safer from coastal storms.
- Integrated Ocean Observing Systems (IOOS®) integration testing: to better-integrate IOOS data to help deliver more robust observations, data products, and services to a broader customer base, while improving our capacity to deliver these data to core customers.
- NJADAPT—N.J. Climate Adaptation Alliance: a collaborative effort consisting of scientists and data managers in academia, government, the private sector and the NGO community who have developed a strategic plan for a New Jersey platform to host and apply climate science and impacts data. This effort is supported by the New Jersey Recovery Fund, the New Jersey Coastal Management Program, and NOAA. The initial version of NJADAPT focused on coastal flooding and storm surges. Information on inland flooding and local temperature maps are expected to be added soon.
2. Coastal communities protected from storm surge inundation
Developing the next generation Storm Surge Model, coupled with more robust coastal observations, will improve capabilities for predicting and visualizing the impacts of storm surge on coastal communities, transition to operations of the storm surge modeling system, and enable better warnings that people understand.
- New storm surge models: part of NOAA's Storm Surge Roadmap, these upgrades will support National Weather Service forecasts and products, including inundation graphics and improved surge warnings.
- Connected mapping efforts: hydrographic surveys, topobathy, Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR), and Vertical Datum Transformation (VDatum) data is being collected in Sandy-affected areas, along with water level station observations of tides and surge, to create products to support multiple decision-making efforts.
- Coastal inundation benchmarks: to enable NOAA to deliver storm surge information to local communities to help with decision making.
- Sea level rise planning tools: developed with the and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that include interactive sea level rise maps and a sea level rise calculator to demonstrate future risk of coastal flooding.
- New seamless digital elevation models: in development by NOAA's National Geophysical Data Center (NGDC), this suite of digital elevation models (DEMs) of the U.S. Atlantic Coast provides accurate digital representations of the coastal elevation, above and below the water, which are necessary for improved coastal inundation products and warnings. These models are also available for other uses.
3. One-NOS approach to Mapping
Integrating and connecting mapping efforts from offices across NOS will ensure our maps are as useful and data-rich as possible to support a wide variety of decision makers and future disaster response scenarios.
- Coastal Digital Elevation Models (DEMs): created for Sandy-impacted areas from Delaware Bay to Long Island Sound and out to the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone, these models support decision-making. DEMs will telescope from the deep ocean floor to the coastal zone.
- Collection and processing of topobathy LIDAR data and imagery of shoreline: from South Carolina to Long Island, N.Y., to generate new shoreline and other multi-use products supporting response efforts, coastal change analysis, and storm vulnerability analysis. This will provide seamless elevation and shoreline information of impacted areas to support navigation, coastal zone spatial planning, HAZMAT mitigation, inundation modeling and analysis of shoreline impacts.
- Installation of 50 short-term water level stations: to support hydrographic surveys, and assist in future storm surge delineation, marine boundary determination, marine navigation, hazardous spill response, and coastal ecosystem restoration.
- Sandy-region shoreline change analysis: in collaboration with the National Geodetic Survey, University of New Hampshire/Joint Hydrographic Center, U.S. Geological Survey, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, to assess the changes that occurred in the shoreline due to Sandy.
- Improved marine debris mapping and removal prioritization: development of best practices for removal of marine debris from sensitive habitats, and critical input to the development of interagency contingency plans for future severe marine debris events.
4. Improved natural resource management for future coastal hazard events
Enhanced Environmental Sensitivity Index (ESI) maps create visual images of sensitive coastal habitats that are critical to coastal management decisions and for reducing the impact of future coastal disasters.
- Updated Environmental Sensitivity Index maps: from South Carolina to Maine, these maps add new data collected as part of Sandy Supplemental activities, to include sonar survey data, tide and water levels, living marine resource characteristics, and shoreline aerial imagery. All future ESI products will be made available within the Environmental Response Management Application.
5. More resilient NOAA facilities and infrastructure in the Mid-Atlantic region
Creating better infrastructure will ensure that NOAA is better prepared to handle the next event.
- Repairing facilities for the next storm: in Oxford, Md.; Beaufort, N.C.; and Stellwagen Bank, Mass.
- National Estuarine Research Reserves (NERRS) repair: replacing lost, damaged, or compromised NERRS System-Wide Monitoring Program equipment and infrastructure.
- Observation equipment repair: repairing and hardening observation equipment, stations, and buoys to better survive the next storm while continuously gathering data.
- Promoting recovery strategies: helping to protect communities while preserving coastal ecosystems (e.g., the 'living lab' in Beaufort, N.C.).
- Improving observation and communication of surge conditions: in addition to providing real-time information, NOS stations and systems provide information on local sea level trends, frequency and duration of coastal inundation, and statistics and probabilities of extreme high or low water levels. This data is critical for coastal managers and developers, as well as for resource protection.