NOAA spill response experts were dispatched to Long Island Sound on Feb. 14, after a barge carrying 2 million gallons of oil hit a submerged rock and released oil into the water. The tanker spilled 2,500 gallons of oil after several of its tank compartments ruptured. NOAA scientific support coordinator Ed Levine, who works with the NOS , provided on-scene weather forecasts, spill trajectories and information about the natural resources in the area to the U.S. Coast Guard. This information was critical in the decision to move the leaking barge to a protected harbor before a storm moved into the area. For more information and to view photographs of the spill, read .
The U.S. Coral Reef Task Force, hosted by NOAA, is meeting this week (Feb. 26-27) in Washington, D.C., to discuss the next steps in implementing its National Action Plan to Conserve Coral Reefs. The task force, which consists of the heads of 11 federal agencies, the governors of seven states and territories, and the presidents of three freely associated states, is considering new actions related to the coral species trade industry and water quality issues affecting U.S. reefs. For more information, view the or contact Roger Griffis at (301) 713-2989 x115.
NOAAs Office of Response and Restoration, in collaboration with the U.S. Geological Survey, recently completed an extensive mapping project of the Pribilof Islands, Alaska. The unprecedented mapping project, which was conducted on a 1:25,000 scale, includes four, standard-sized topographic maps for both St. George and St. Paul Islands, which are the only two inhabited islands of the Pribilof archipelago. Both islands primarily are populated by indigenous Aleutians.
Coastal zone managers, climate researchers and others now will be able to track the latest trends in sea level, thanks to a new Web site devoted to monitoring sea level trends on a regular basis. The Web site allows users to search for and display long-term trends, averages and irregularities. The site will be updated monthly and takes advantage of information that is gathered from a vast network of 117 coastal water level stations, operated by NOAAs National Ocean Service. The Web site also includes information that allows users to view seasonal cycles, and annual and decadal variations in sea level. The Web site is maintained by NOSs , which maintains and operates all of NOSs tidal and water level stations, including the . For more information, read .
NOAA recently fined a fishing vessel $20,000 for illegal shrimp trawling in a protected section of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary last December. The U.S. Coast Guard cited the Miss Christine V on Dec. 16, 2002, for illegal shrimp trawling inside the Tortugas Ecological Reserve and escorted the vessel to Key West. There, a NOAA agent seized its catch of 1,117 lbs. of pink shrimp. The $1,733 proceeds from the sale of the shrimp are in escrow pending settlement of the case.
The recently concluded its involvement with the national JASON XIV: From Shore to Sea Expedition. The involves students and teachers directly in underwater exploration. More than 1 million students and 2,500 teachers worldwide participated in the year-long expedition, via online chats, digital labs, and curriculum implementation.
NOAAs Region 6 Response Team was activated Feb. 1 to help NASA respond to the Columbia space shuttle disaster. Response experts were asked to determine if NOAA could provide airborne monitoring of the particulate cloud that resulted from the shuttle disaster. Data from the network of NOAAs usually is used to help forecast the weather. In this case, the network provided NASA with wind data that helped determine the speed and direction at which the space shuttles debris fell, as well as the size of its particles. Experts at NOAAs determined that the particulate cloud resulting from the shuttle breakup would have dispersed within 24 to 48 hours. The response team, part of NOAAs , continues to be involved in the disaster response. For more information, read or contact LCDR Mike Devany at (206) 526-6949.
This year, the Discovery Health Channel series Diagnosis: Unknown will feature a documentary on Pfiesteria piscicida and will highlight the research conducted into the phenomenon by NOAAs National Ocean Service (NOS). Pfiesteria outbreaks are linked to major fish kills and fish diseases.
NOAAs National Ocean Service (NOS) is helping the state of Louisiana and the U.S. Corps of Engineers measure the amount and rate of subsidence along Highway 1 in Grand Isle, La. The composition of the soil under Highway 1, which is especially important because it is a major hurricane evacuation route for Lafourche and Jefferson Parishes, makes it particularly vulnerable to subsidence. A team from NOSs is using global positioning system equipment to re-measure the elevation of points along the route, which will help determine areas that likely will be flooded during storms. This information also will help the state plan for evacuations. For more information, please contact .
Response experts from NOAAs National Ocean Service and other resource trustees are responding to an oil spill from a pipeline in northwest Terrebonne Bay, La. The spill, which was reported January 30, extends from a few miles southeast of Cocodrie to barrier islands located 10 to 15 miles to the south and southwest. Shell Oil Company, which has claimed responsibility for the spill, estimates that about 160 barrels were released. The oil could potentially affect salt marshes, sand beaches, fish and shellfish populations, and birds. Shell has begun working with responders to develop a cooperative damage assessment and has already collected water and sediment samples. For more information, contact Tony Penn at (301) 713-3038 x197.
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