Foundation CORS Installed at Colorado’s Table Mountain Test Facility
A new ultra-stable Foundation CORS (Continuously Operating Reference Station) was installed at NOAA’s Table Mountain Test Facility near Boulder, Colorado, in keeping with NGS’s goal of establishing up to two new Foundation CORS sites per year for FY 2018. NGS’s mission is to define, maintain, and provide access to the National Spatial Reference System (NSRS)—the basis for all civilian positioning applications in the United States. The geometric component of the NSRS is accessed via CORS, which tracks Global Navigation Satellite System signals.
CO-OPS Completes First Season of Lake Erie HAB Operational Forecast
CO-OPS completed its first official season of forecasting the Lake Erie Harmful Algal Bloom (HAB) Operational Forecast. This year’s bloom, the third-largest in recent years, started near Maumee, Ohio, on July 17 and lasted until November 7. During that time, CO-OPS released 33 bulletins to support local water resource managers in mitigating the impacts. During this inaugural season, CO-OPS codified a system of transitioning products from research to operations, first transitioning the Lake Erie bulletin itself, and then rolling out a product enhancement with high-resolution Sentinel-3 satellite imagery.
Partners Make Repairs at Mission-Aransas National Estuarine Research Reserve
In the three months since Hurricane Harvey caused significant damage at the Mission-Aransas National Estuarine Research Reserve (NERR) in Port Aransas, Texas, reserve staff have worked to repair damages and restore operations. They accomplished their initial goal, which was to host the National Estuarine Research Reserve System’s annual meeting in Corpus Christi in mid-November. On the final day of the meeting, reserve staff, OCM staff, and NOS Assistant Administrator Russell Callender joined partners and staff from other reserves to clean and make repairs at Mission-Aransas NERR—all of which underscores the sense of community that the reserve system represents.
The Coral Reef Economy Takes Top Film Festival Honors
Healthy coral reef ecosystems pump billions of dollars into the U.S. economy—from supporting millions of jobs to protecting lives and coastal infrastructure. Communicating their value is critical to their conservation. To this end, CRCP and the Office for Coastal Management developed a fun and informative video, The Coral Reef Economy, which took first place in the animation category at the CINEFISH film festival in Merida, Mexico. The fast-draw film, available in both Spanish and English, demonstrates how coral reefs are crucial to the economy. The Gulf and Caribbean Fisheries Institute hosted the event.
Office of Coast Survey Releases Final National Charting Plan
OCS released the final version of its National Charting Plan,which gives NOAA chart users a better understanding of what to expect of nautical charts in the future. The changes described in the plan will allow OCS to be more responsive to the evolution of charting and address the public’s need for navigation data over the next several years. The plan outlines a suite of products that are more useful and safer to navigate with by providing more precise, higher-resolution charts with the most up-to-date navigation information. The comment period to solicit stakeholder feedback on changes to NOAA’s future nautical chart products was open from March 1 – July 1, 2017. The final version of the plan addresses and clarifies commenters’ questions and concerns.
Representing the Americas at International Geodesy Meeting
NGS’s chief geodesist served as one of five delegates for the Americas at the United Nations Subcommittee of Experts on the Global Geodetic Reference Frame in Mexico City. The subcommittee is under the United Nations Committee of Experts on Global Geographic Information Management. The subcommittee is a focal point for the coordination of international governance of geography, and the full committee is a focal point for statistics and geodesy.
Partnership Addresses Ocean Conservation Needs in the Caribbean
Marine protected areas (MPAs) are critical to coral reef conservation, yet many lack the capacity and support for effective management. CRCP and the Gulf and Caribbean Fisheries Institute created MPAConnect, an initiative to assess and identify priority capacity needs at MPAs in 10 Caribbean countries and territories. The program, founded in 2010, applies a peer-to-peer learning approach to capacity-building through workshops, technical support, and direct grant funding. This year, MPAConnect members used a specialized tool to reassess their needs and strengths in multiple areas, including sustainable financing, strategic planning and implementation, and outreach and communications. The outcomes of their assessments will inform continued efforts for effective MPA management.
Fishermen Help Sanctuary Staff Bring the Ocean to the Classroom
Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary collaborated with local fishermen to bring the ocean to the desks of students in the San Francisco area. Through the sanctuary’s Fisherman in the Classroom program, students learned about the challenges, economics, and rewards of fishing for salmon and dungeness crabs in national marine sanctuary waters, as well as the relationship between fishermen and sanctuary conservation policies. Putting a human face on important issues such as sustainable fisheries, watershed restoration, and national marine sanctuaries brings to life for students the rich cultural history and current relevance of commercial fishing in Central California.
Oil Spill Response Simulation at Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary
Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary supported the planning and execution of an Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS)-based oil spill response simulation. In addition to ONMS and OR&R, participants included Chevron, the California Office of Oil Spill Prevention and Response, American Aerospace Technologies, Inc., and AeroVironment, Inc. The project’s objectives were to test and evaluate the use of long-endurance UASs in offshore oil spill patrol, response, and shoreline cleanup, and to evaluate AeroVironment’s new high-resolution payload in support of Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA). An Arcturus Jump 20 UAS was used to fly offshore beyond the visual line of site to image natural oil seeps in the Santa Barbara Channel. NOAA R/V Shearwater supported the project by disbursing Fluorescein dye and rice hulls to simulate oil in the water. The AeroVironment Puma UAS supported NRDA imaging along the shoreline.
Combating Marine Debris in Mobile, Alabama
The nonprofit Mobile Baykeeper, with support from a NOAA Marine Debris Program Community-Based Removal Grant, is leading efforts to increase the health of One Mile Creek, which flows into Mobile Bay and eventually into the Gulf of Mexico. The organization held its first “Moving Toward a Litter-Free Mardi Gras” cleanup of One Mile Creek just north of downtown Mobile near the site of a major drain for the city’s stormwater. Over the course of the next two years, Mobile Baykeeper will conduct five more cleanups and work with the City of Mobile to install devices to help capture debris during Mardi Gras before it pollutes the creek.
Strengthening American Samoa’s Coral Reefs
In response to high nutrient rates found along the coast that could prove harmful to American Samoa’s coral reefs, the Maryland-based nonprofit Ridge to Reefs, with help from CRCP, developed a range of nature-based water quality enhancement features. The efforts—aimed at reducing impacts from human activities—include installation of green management practices for water treatment and septic systems. With additional assistance from the American Samoa Power Authority, Natural Resources Conservation Service, and student volunteers, the program will boost the health of the reefs while strengthening community and government partnerships. As these enhancements continue, the development of a watershed plan and future restoration projects will further the region’s conservation efforts.
U.S. and Canada Collaborate on Great Lakes Data Collection
NGS and CO-OPS participated in the 103rd annual meeting of the Coordinating Committee on Great Lakes Basic Hydraulic and Hydrologic Data in Buffalo, NY. In addition to NOAA, representatives from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Geological Survey, and the Government of Canada contributed to discussions. Prior to 1953, U.S. and Canadian federal agencies independently collected and compiled data pertaining to the hydraulic and hydrologic characteristics of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River, with only superficial and informal coordination. As a consequence, the same basic data often were not compatible. Remedying the situation required a concerted effort to study and evaluate the data that both countries used.
Seafloor Mapping Initiative Contributes to Maritime Safety
Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary partnered with NCCOS and OCS in 2014 to map the seafloor in areas of the Southern California Bight. The partnership evolved into the Southern California Seafloor Mapping Initiative, a broader effort that now includes additional NOAA offices and academic, nonprofit, state, and federal partners. To provide a clearer picture of potential navigation hazards and other geographic features, OMAO recently conducted survey work in shallow-water areas around the sanctuary. This survey, in combination with information collected from two previous missions, will assist OCS in generating important safety updates to nautical charts. The partnership has helped produce publicly available information on more than 45 percent of the sanctuary’s ocean bottom.
Helping the Maryland Geological Survey Monitor Subsidence
As the next step in a project launched in October 2016, NGS helped the Maryland Geological Survey (MGS) monitor subsidence at groundwater pumping stations on the western shore of the Maryland coastal plain. NGS deployed seven static GPS receivers on deep-rod bench marks established at pumping facilities in Crofton, Annapolis, Arnold, Calvert Cliffs, Lexington Park, Waldorf, and Rosaryville. Last year’s observations will be compared with this year’s to determine if there were any measurable changes. Analyses will be ongoing, and MGS will document any subsidence related to the removal of groundwater. NGS and Maryland plan to continue the project into the future.
The Coastal Zone Management Act Turns 45
On October 27, NOAA celebrated the 45th anniversary of the Coastal Zone Management Act (CZMA), landmark legislation that waved in a new era by recognizing the importance of safeguarding the nation’s coasts, estuaries, and oceans. The federal and state partnership provides an effective means of accomplishing both national and local goals, and places equal consideration on economic and environmental priorities. The CZMA program increases public access to the coasts, protects and restores coastal habitat, and minimizes risks from storms and other natural hazards. The legislation continues to be as relevant today as it was 45 years ago.
A New PORTS® in Matagorda, Texas
NOAA, the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB), and the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) established a new Physical Oceanographic Real Time System (PORTS®) in Matagorda Bay, Texas, about 108 miles south of Houston. The system consists of a newly installed current meter in the bay’s shipping channel and three existing stations that measure water levels and meteorological data. The USCG was a strong proponent of the system due to increasing numbers of commercial vessels grounding near the channel. In addition to supporting safe and efficient maritime commerce, Matagorda Bay PORTS will also address the need to understand the area’s physical oceanographic regime in order to support coastal projects by TWDB, USCG, and others. In the first month of its provisional operation, the new PORTS observed the passage of Hurricane Harvey with no damage to its sensors, and provided important data on currents and water levels in real time.