MARPLOT 5.1 Offers Enhanced Import, NOAA Charts, and More
A recent update to OR&R’s MARPLOT® mapping software gives emergency responders and planners improved tools with which to assess geospatial information for emergency incidents and to create custom maps. With this latest update, MARPLOT can now import 11 different file types, including geodatabase, shapefile, and Google KML/KMZ files. This broad range of import options allows MARPLOT users to import map data from a variety of common sources and mapping programs. MARPLOT is part of the CAMEO® software suite jointly developed by NOAA and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. For more than 30 years, CAMEO has provided tools to assist responders during chemical emergencies and helped emergency planners prepare for such incidents ahead of time.
Post-Hurricane Irma Surveys and Assessments in Florida Keys
Federal and state government agencies, academic institutions, and nonprofit organizations mobilized to evaluate the impacts of Hurricane Irma on the Florida reef tract and, specifically, in Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary (FKNMS), where the hurricane’s eye wall crossed. During a rapid assessment, divers sent real-time information to land-based experts to determine “triage” areas. The Civil Air Patrol helped the sanctuary find missing and displaced buoys, and aerial photographs were used to guide the replacement of informational buoys and mooring balls in protected areas. FKNMS encouraged boaters and divers to report changes in natural and cultural resources to Mote Marine Laboratory’s C-OCEAN online tool and to contact the Florida Public Archaeology Network. Partners included NOAA, National Park Service, Florida Department of Environmental Protection, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Nova Southeastern University, Coral Restoration Foundation, The Nature Conservancy-Florida, Florida Aquarium Center for Conservation, and National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.
Assisting Emergency Hydrographic Surveys Post-Hurricane Maria
CO-OPS provided critical tidal support to the Office of Coast Survey (OCS) as it responded to emergency hydrographic survey requests in the wake of Hurricane Maria. As Maria swept past the U.S. Virgin Islands and made landfall on Puerto Rico, OCS requested tide support for 17 ports and harbors on St. Croix, St. John, St. Thomas, and Puerto Rico, in order to perform emergency response surveys to assist with reopening ports and ensuring safe navigation once the storm had passed. Working throughout the week, CO-OPS supplied updates on its tide gauges operating in the area and provided detailed information on all tide gauges that survived the storm. This helped OCS’s Mobile Integrated Survey Team and NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson, in coordination with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Coast Guard, assist in resuming port operations.
A Step-By-Step Guide to Assess Coral Reef Resilience
Maintaining and restoring resilience is a major focus of most reef managers around the world. This focus provides options—and hope—in the face of new and often daunting challenges. Despite powerful external forces like climate change, local actions can positively influence the future of reefs. The new publication, A Guide to Assessing Coral Reef Resilience for Decision Support, presents the results of more than a decade of work to establish resilience assessment protocols. The document outlines a 10-step process for completing a resilience assessment and gives managers the means to map and monitor reef resilience, and also to identify and prioritize actions that support resilience. CRCP, the UN Environment Program, and other partners collaborated to produce the guide.
Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary Research Expedition
Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary and partners completed the first part of a multi-leg remotely operated vehicle (ROV) expedition to explore mesophotic coral communities in the northwestern Gulf of Mexico. Using the partner-owned and -operated ROV Mohawk, benthic transects were conducted from 50- to 200-meter depths to collect data on the number of corals and capture high-resolution imagery of the seafloor. The team completed more than 20 hours of ROV dive time and collected more than 50 coral samples that will be used for species identification and genetic analyses. Collaboration with NOAA Fisheries’ Deep Sea Coral Research and Technology Program, University of North Carolina Wilmington Undersea Vehicle Program, City University of New York, University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, and the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation was imperative to conduct the logistics-heavy, time-intensive research.
OR&R Supports U.S. Coast Guard PREP Exercise in Maryland
OR&R staff participated in a full-scale multi-agency exercise—known as a PREP (Preparedness for Response Exercise Program) exercise—led by U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) Sector Maryland-North Capitol Region. The scenario involved a train derailment on a bridge spanning the Susquehanna River near where it empties into Chesapeake Bay, resulting in two rail cars burning their cargo, several cars falling into the river, and 320,000 gallons of oil being released. Impacts included floating oil, oiled shorelines, oiled wildlife, a navigational closure, and air quality concerns. OR&R scientists and data managers provided information on shoreline assessment, cleanup methods, and resources at risk; initiated a Natural Resource Damage Assessment; and, for purposes of the exercise, coordinated the Environmental Response Management Application (ERMA®) as the Common Operating Picture for the USCG.
NCCOS Awards $1.7 Million for Harmful Algal Bloom and Toxins Research
NCCOS recently awarded $1.68 million in FY17 funding for nine research projects to identify conditions that increase bloom toxicity; model toxin movement from water into shellfish, fish, and marine mammals; and improve toxin monitoring and forecasts. These multi-year awards from NCCOS’s competitive programs, with a total funding target of $5.2 million through 2019, will have a national impact.
Online Resources Help Communities Reduce Flood Risk and Save Money
Preserving floodplains as open space keeps people and infrastructure out of harm’s way and allows communities to recover quickly after flooding occurs. Additionally, under FEMA’s Community Rating System, communities can earn discounts on flood insurance premiums by preserving floodplains—but many communities lack the capacity to identify all potential credits. OCM’s new How to Map Open Space for Community Rating System Credit and companion GIS Workflow and Mapping Guide, both available on NOAA’s Digital Coast, detail the process for mapping and calculating credits for preserved open space in seven easy-to-understand steps, with links to helpful data, information, and resources.
Sharing Modernization Plans for the National Spatial Reference System
NGS representatives visited the National Geospatial Technical Operations Center of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) in Rolla, MO. They outlined the details of modernization plans for the National Spatial Reference System (NSRS) and learned how current datums are used in map production at USGS. The meeting will assist USGS in developing a plan to smoothly transition its operations to the new NSRS in 2022.
Visiting Denmark to Test Promising New Automation Software
A team from OCS traveled to Denmark to participate in a workshop on automated cartography hosted by the Danish Hydrographic Office. Participants from the Norwegian and Swedish hydrographic offices also participated. The focus of the workshop was a new software program developed in cooperation with the Danish Hydrographic Office and the Danish software company SCALGO. The new software creates nautically correct contours and sounding (depth) selections from high-resolution bathymetry. The manual and subjective process typically takes a lot of time and experience to do well. The results impressed OCS, which will test the software over the next year.
ONMS Rolls Out its Five-Year Strategic Plan
ONMS released Our Vision for America's Treasured Ocean Places, its five-year plan for advancing the protection of some of the nation’s most remarkable ocean and Great Lakes areas. Part of the success of the National Marine Sanctuaries Act is a result of its requirement to consider the diverse and sometimes competing needs of all of its stakeholders. Laying out an ambitious plan requires a new way of doing business. The plan was created with input from ONMS staff, cooperating agencies, and diverse stakeholders. This collaborative roadmap will be strategically focused on the National Marine Sanctuary System and its constituents and resources to deliver an empowered, valued, and effective system while ensuring thriving sanctuaries and other ocean parks.
Facilitating the Use of Social Science Across NOAA
NOAA continues to recognize the important roles that social science and our citizens play in communicating with communities and keeping people safe and productive. OCM’s social science services contract vehicle provides easy steering for other NOAA offices to access social science services, such as needs assessments and demographic analyses that support coastal management goals. As a result, OCM initiated 14 projects across NOAA this year, many of which examine the socioeconomic value of NOAA’s products and services.
Telecasts Beam Sanctuary Visitors into Deep-sea Exploration
ONMS teamed up with the Ocean Exploration Trust to explore West Coast marine ecosystems, including five national marine sanctuaries. A recent voyage aboard the Exploration Vessel Nautilus explored and characterized paleo-shoreline features in and around California’s Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary. The Nautilus is equipped with telepresence capabilities, which allow scientists and the public to actively participate in the expedition in real time. Telecasts enhance STEM education and connect students with the National Marine Sanctuary System. During the three-week-long Channel Islands leg of the expedition, more than 2,400 youth and families virtually explored ancient shoreline features submerged in the sanctuary via 71 live ship-to-shore interactions with scientists and explorers.
Gulf of Mexico ‘Dead Zone’ Largest Ever Measured
Scientists have determined that this year’s Gulf of Mexico dead zone, an area of low oxygen that can kill fish and marine life, covers 8,776 square miles—an area about the size of New Jersey. It is the largest dead zone measured since mapping of the area began in 1985. The research team, led by NOAA partners at the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium and Louisiana State University, conducted the survey cruise to determine the dead zone’s size. NOAA funds monitoring and research for the Gulf dead zone through the Northern Gulf of Mexico Ecosystems and Hypoxia Assessment Program. The annual measurement of the dead zone is the primary measure of progress used by the interagency Gulf of Mexico/Mississippi River Watershed Nutrient Task Force to evaluate whether ongoing efforts to reduce nutrient loading of the Mississippi River are yielding results.
Socioeconomic Infographics for Coral Jurisdictions Highlight Residents’ Perceptions
In support of the National Coral Reef Monitoring Plan (NCRMP), NOAA social scientists and their partners collect a variety of socioeconomic data in seven U.S. coral jurisdictions to track information on each jurisdiction’s population, social and economic structure, the impacts of society on coral reefs, and the impacts of coral management on communities. A snapshot of results from the most recent NCRMP socioeconomic monitoring surveys are now available as infographics for the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The infographics highlight residents’ perceptions, values, and level of support for coral reef management alternatives in each jurisdiction.
NGS Director Advises United Nations on Geodesy
NGS Director Juliana Blackwell advised the United Nations (UN) on geodesy, geodetic reference systems, and geospatial management activities at the Seventh Session of the UN Committee of Experts on Global Geospatial Information Management at UN Headquarters in New York City. The committee provides a forum for coordination and dialogue among nations and international organizations, and proposes work plans and guidelines to promote common geodetic principles, policies, and standards for geospatial data and services.