The National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science Competitive Research Program announced its FY19 federal funding opportunities (FFOs) in two areas of research: harmful algal blooms (HABs) and the ecological effects of sea level rise (EESLR). Proposals for HAB funding will be accepted for two programs: Monitoring and Event Response for Harmful Algal Blooms (MERHAB) and Ecology and Oceanography of Harmful Algal Blooms (ECOHAB). Letters of intent for both HAB programs are due November 5, 2018. The deadline for completed MERHAB applications is January 22, 2019; the deadline for completed ECOHAB applications is February 4, 2019. Letters of intent for EESLR funding are due November 2, 2018. The deadline for completed EESLR applications is January 16, 2019. For details on how to apply for funding, follow the FFO links on the NCCOS web page announcing the funding.
The National Geodetic Survey recently completed a scoping study to investigate how to reprocess older survey observations to be compatible with the new National Spatial Reference System (NSRS) database. The study sampled projects that are currently part of the NGS Integrated Database, retrieved the original data, scanned field logs, and attempted to reprocess the data with OPUS-Projects, the latest extension of the NGS Online Positioning User Service (OPUS). The scoping study provided significant insights that NGS can use to develop its new dynamic database.
Maritime application and navigation system developers met with NOAA experts at NOAA Navigation Industry Day, held in conjunction with Maryland’s Annapolis Boat Show, to learn more about the vast amounts of NOAA data that are available at no cost. Program leaders from the Office of Coast Survey, Center for Operational Oceanographic Products and Services, National Geodetic Survey, and the National Weather Service explained how NOAA data could add functionality to navigation systems and maritime applications. They demonstrated data sets and new formats not yet in widespread use and requested feedback on ways to improve NOAA products and services. The event showcased the great potential to infuse more NOAA data into commercial navigation products.
Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary installed a telemetry array around Santa Barbara Island, California, and tagged four giant sea bass. Known as the “king of the kelp forest,” the giant sea bass is a top predator whose population has slowly recovered after years of decline. Despite protections, the species faces a number of threats, including poaching. The sanctuary initiated a three-year project to assess the site’s fidelity and study how the bass make use of their habitat over time. Additionally, through partnerships with local researchers, the sanctuary will study the giants’ long-term migrations. The researchers will use both telemetry and photo identification to track individual bass.
MPAConnect is a learning network that works to increase the effectiveness of Marine Protected Area (MPA) management by addressing specific capacity needs of individual MPAs through regional peer to peer workshops, site-specific technical support, learning exchanges, and direct grant funding. The latest gathering of the network, held recently in the Caribbean island of Saba, focused on management strategies for sustainable fisheries and the conservation of essential coral reef ecosystems. Priority topics for the region include research, monitoring, and management strategies for reef fish, fish spawning aggregations, lobster, and conch.
For the first time, sampling crews captured juvenile American shad upstream of the recently removed Weston Mill Dam on the Millstone River in New Jersey. The finding confirms that American shad are accessing upper portions of the river since removal of the dam, a component of a natural resource damage settlement agreement reached by NOAA, co-trustees, and parties potentially responsible for hazardous waste released into the Raritan River. The identification of American shad upriver of the removed dam affirms the importance of dam removals and monitoring to evaluate and document the success of restoration efforts.
The National Geodetic Survey created a dynamic web-based map of Surface Elevation Table (SET) sampling stations for the Chesapeake Bay Sentinel Site Cooperative (CBSSC). SETs are portable mechanical devices that yield long-term, precise measurements of surface elevation changes, which prove crucial in the effort to increase our understanding of coastal habitat responses to sea-level changes. This online map makes the CBSSC's SET resources public, allowing users to better understand and respond to the effects of a changing environment.
NOAA is working with engineers at Nano Air Bubble Aeration System Technology to develop an environmentally sustainable method to eliminate harmful freshwater algae and their toxins. The method uses nanobubbles, which are smaller than the width of a single human hair. Unlike ordinary bubbles that rise and burst at the surface of the water, nanobubbles implode under the water’s pressure, releasing oxygen and ozone that help dissolve harmful algae. NCCOS scientists validated the method’s efficacy in reducing harmful algae and toxins and are now working to establish application parameters that will ensure wildlife safety.
An update to a United Nations (UN) report on climate change and coral reefs — led by NOAA’s Coral Reef Watch — offered some positive conclusions if immediate, significant action on climate change is taken. The report, which focused on 29 UN-designated World Heritage reef sites, concludes that limiting global temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels would prevent annual bleaching projected to occur under a “business-as-usual” scenario this century at all 29 sites. Furthermore, the analysis indicates that only four sites would be exposed to severe, twice-per-decade heat stress. This latest report underscores the importance of achieving global climate goals to secure a sustainable future for these iconic reef systems.
A devastating multi-year outbreak of disease, affecting half of the hard coral species in Florida, now impacts more than 75 percent of the reef tract, which stretches from the northern reaches in Martin County to the Lower Florida Keys near Key West. With the majority of the reef in Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, NOAA plays a lead role in addressing an issue that could have a detrimental effect on the marine ecosystem and the local economy. Recently, NOAA and Florida Fish and Wildlife researchers collected and stored 88 corals, representing 10 species, to serve as a “bank” of healthy corals. The banked corals ensure genetic diversity, which is crucial for successful future restoration efforts.
While conducting hydrographic surveys after Hurricane Florence, OCS navigation response teams and physical science staff aboard NOAA Ship Ferdinand R. Hassler found many underwater obstructions. Four obstructions found in the Cape Fear River channel were deemed dangers to navigation. While these hazards remained in place when the port re-opened, NOAA updated its charts and distributed them to the port, U.S. Coast Guard, and key stakeholders, allowing large vessels to safely navigate into port. OCS published its updated charts less than 24 hours after the survey, an unprecedented accomplishment.
The Marine Debris Program’s Marine Debris Research federal funding opportunity is part of a nationwide, competitive funding program supporting efforts to address the pervasive global problem of marine debris. Research projects funded through the competition will explore the ecological risks associated with marine debris, determine debris exposure levels, examine the fate and transport of marine debris in nearshore coastal environments, and quantify habitat impacts resulting from marine debris. Projects may address one or more of these research priorities and should be original, hypothesis-driven projects not previously addressed to scientific standards. The proposal submission period is from September 17-December 14, 2018. Awards will be announced in summer, 2019.
NOAA's Office of Response and Restoration signed a multi-year Interagency Agreement with the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) to “standardize the use of NOAA’s Environmental Response Management Application (ERMA®) as the Common Operating Picture for USCG-led training, exercises, oil spill responses, and releases of hazardous substances, pollutants, and contaminants.” The agreement provides a formal framework for policy decisions and use of ERMA to support USCG activities. OR&R expects that the agreement will further ERMA’s use across a wide variety of environmental response and assessment activities by NOAA and its partner agencies. The agreement supplements the existing Memorandum of Understanding between NOAA and the USCG that allows the Federal On-Scene Coordinator to fund the NOAA Scientific Support Coordinator and ERMA as part of any emergency response incident.
Office of Coast Survey Director RDML Shepard Smith attended the Eighth Conference of the Arctic Regional Hydrographic Commission in Longyearbyen at Svalbard, Norway, to coordinate hydrographic activity among member states—Canada, Denmark, Norway, Russia, and the United States—in the Arctic region. The meeting focused on international charting considerations, crowdsource bathymetry, and marine spatial data infrastructure and policy. The International Hydrographic Organization (IHO) encourages the establishment of Regional Hydrographic Commissions (RHCs) to coordinate hydrographic activity at the regional level. The RHCs are made up of IHO member states and other regional states that meet at regular intervals to discuss the resolution of mutual hydrographic and chart production problems, plan joint survey operations, and resolve schemes for medium- and large-scale international chart coverage.
NGS scientists shared research results at the Gravity, Geoid, and Height Systems International Symposium in Copenhagen, Denmark. The research seeks to answer two questions in order to establish a standardized International Height Reference System: (1) How well do geoids computed from various theories and methods agree in a region of extreme terrain? and (2) To what accuracy can a geoid be computed in such a region? An accurate, long-term, stable reference frame is essential for global monitoring to detect environmental trends such as changes in sea level and ice caps, continental drift, and crustal deformations, as well as to monitor deformations in large structures such as bridges, harbors, and oil rigs.
A joint NOAA-Ocean Exploration Trust research cruise discovered two new sponge species living on the wreck of the USS Independence in the northwest section of Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Scientists from the California Academy of Sciences and the Royal British Columbia Museum named the sponges Staurocalyptus pamelaturnerae and Hyalascus farallonensis. A third sponge also found on the wreck, Farrea schulzei, had not been described since the late 1800s and was newly described. Its range of occurrence also got an update. Characterization of species’ habitats in a national marine sanctuary helps to effectively manage resources.