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Weekly News: February 2007
February 2007

February 23, 2007
February 16, 2007
February 9, 2007
February 2, 2007


February 23, 2007


Improving Imagery to Support Gulf of Mexico Alliance
Scientists from the National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science (NCCOS), working with the northern Gulf of Mexico Cooperative Institute (NGOM-CI), have improved spatial accuracy of NOAA CoastWatch Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometry and Sea Surface Temperature images, 1994 to 2006. These images are used to determine impacts of hurricanes and supporting integrated assessments for Gulf of Mexico coastal waters. A new procedure reported by NCCOS in 2006 was applied to reduce error as large as 6.2 miles (10 kilometers) in images prior to 2004 to an average less than one mile for use in collaboration with partners of the NGOM-CI, a non-governmental organization funded by NOAA. The NGOM-CI is a cornerstone of NOAA's commitment to the Gulf of Mexico Alliance and response to the U.S. Ocean Action Plan to support coastal management needs through coordinated research efforts in the northern Gulf of Mexico. For more information, contact


NOAA and Department of the Interior Meet on Marine Protected Areas
NOAA Assistant Administrator Jack Dunnigan, NOAA Senior Policy Advisor Mike Snyder, and staff from the National Marine Protected Areas Center met with Department of the Interior (DOI) Assistant Deputy Secretary Kameran Onley and key staff from DOI Bureaus to discuss the national system of marine protected areas (MPAs). DOI leaders requested the meeting to share ideas about how national conservation systems co-managed by DOI could serve as potential models for the national MPA system. The National Trails System, National Wilderness System, and National Wild and Scenic Rivers system each has a national conservation mission that operates in close partnership with Congress and nongovernmental organizations. Meeting participants agreed to develop a brief options paper for further consideration by NOAA and DOI leadership. The discussion comes as the public comment period on the draft Framework for Developing a National System of Marine Protected Areas draws to a close on February 28, and will help inform the response to comments and development of the final Framework document. For more information, contact


Coast Survey Tests New Laser Scanner System
The Office of Coast Survey (OCS) began conducting tests with laser scanner technology on the survey vessel BAY HYDROGRAPHER to evaluate the use of these systems for near shore hydrography and coastal mapping. This technology allows a vessel to position near-shore, above-water features such as rocks, piers, and various aids to navigation using laser ranging and to do so without having to stop. These systems deliver extremely high-resolution positioning from an offshore position, which is safer for the ship and crew. This new system would allow OCS to meet a component of their mission more quickly, from a safer vantage point and with greater accuracy. Laser scanner technology has only recently been deployed on boats, but has been in use in the survey industry on cars, helicopters, and airplanes, as well as used in a static configuration. For more information, contact



February 16, 2007


New Method for Watershed Restoration Assessment
A new decision-support tool has been developed for the Southern California Wetlands Recovery Project. The Southern California Riparian Ecological Assessment Method (SCREAM), is a geographic information system (GIS)-based model that assesses the suitability of wetlands restoration based on hydrology, habitat, and biogeochemistry. SCREAM is the first GIS tool developed to assist in wetlands monitoring and assessment for the entire project area of 10,000 square miles. SCREAM was developed by NOAA's Coastal Services Center, in partnership with the Southern California Coastal Water Research Project. For more information, contact


Gulf of Maine 2007-2012 Action Plan
Federal, state, provincial, non-profit, and industry partners that share the Gulf of Maine ecosystem have released a 2007-2012 Action Plan. The Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management and NOAA's Coastal Services Center worked closely with the Gulf of Maine Council to develop the five-year plan. The Action Plan identifies planned activities as well as short-, mid-, and long-term outcomes that will enable tracking of Gulf-wide accomplishments.  The plan aims to move towards three desired states: 1) that coastal and marine habitats are in a healthy, productive and resilient condition; 2) that environmental conditions in the Gulf of Maine are improved to support ecosystem and human health; and 3) that Gulf of Maine coastal communities are vibrant and have marine-dependent industries that are healthy and globally competitive. The Action Plan can be found at For more information, contact


Major Readjustment to U.S. Positioning Infrastructure Completed
NOAA's National Geodetic Survey (NGS) has just completed a major national readjustment to the National Spatial Reference System (NSRS). The NSRS is maintained by NOAA and provides positioning infrastructure for transportation and communication, mapping and charting, and many other scientific and engineering applications in the U.S. Taking over two years to complete, the NSRS Readjustment is an update of all global positioning system survey control point positions in North America. One significant benefit of the NSRS Readjustment is that it resolves coordinate inconsistencies between state and local positioning networks.  This aids professional surveyors and others who rely on the NSRS for accurate positioning.  The re-adjusted coordinates will be released in a simple text-based format on online data sheets in March 2007.  For more information, please visit the National Readjustment home page at: or contact



February 9, 2007


Raising Awareness of Sea Grass Decline
The National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science, in collaboration with sea-grass experts from around the world, have found that 65 percent of sea-grass abundance investigations worldwide show declines in the resource, with an accelerating rate of decline evident in the most recent studies. The findings were analyzed as part of an international workshop funded by the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis at the University of California-Santa Barbara. The project will further examine regional trends to evaluate the correlation between sea-grass changes and environmental and human stressors, and will strive to inform resource managers and the public. The project has access to the largest data set ever compiled on the global distribution and abundance of sea grasses. For more information, contact


New Severe Storm Tide Station Sites Identified for the Gulf Coast
A field team from the Center for Operational Oceanographic Products and Services, working with the Office of Coast Survey, state and local authorities, and pilots, completed field work last week to identify specific sites for the installation of five new NOAA tide stations designed to withstand severe storm and storm-surge conditions. The plan is to install the new stations at sites in Mississippi and Louisiana. In the coming months, a report and graphics showing the plots of the new stations will be developed, as will updates on the stations' construction and installation. The target date to complete installation is June 2007. For more information, contact


Assisting Belize in Developing a National Plan of Action
The NOS International Program Office (IPO) is engaged in a partnership with the United Nations Environment Program to implement the Global Program of Action for the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land-based Activities in the Wider Caribbean. IPO staff traveled to Belize this week to conduct meetings with government agencies and nongovernmental organizations to further develop Belize's National Plan of Action (NPA). The NPA provides a framework for coastal management and a means to prevent, reduce, control, and/or eliminate marine degradation from land-based activities. The Belize-NOAA team identified major land-based pollution sources in Belize and is refining specific actions to mitigate pollutant impacts. For more information, contact



February 2, 2007


New Geodetic Control Marks to Support Sea-Level Rise Research
NOAA's National Geodetic Survey and the North Carolina Geodetic Survey recently installed a geodetic control mark at the North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores near Beaufort, North Carolina. This mark will support three sea level rise research projects funded by the National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science to provide geodetic control for researchers from six universities. This geodetic control will be used in projects looking at the impacts of sea level rise on coastal ecosystems. For more information, contact or

Experts Assist European Seagrass Restoration
Scientists from several European countries and a researcher from the National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science (NCCOS) met in Setubal, Portugal, to coordinate research surrounding one of the largest seagrass habitat restoration projects to be attempted in Europe. NCCOS seagrass restoration experts will oversee the restoration. Over a period of two years, seagrass will be transplanted to restore habitat vital to system productivity. Approximately 24.5 acres in two bays previously stripped of seagrass by commercial clam harvesting will be restored. The bays will be protected from further impacts. For more information, contact

Archipelago Exhibit Opens at The Mariners' Museum
The traveling exhibit Archipelago: Portraits of Life in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands opened to the public at The Mariners' Museum in Newport News, Virginia, last week. It was selected as the first temporary exhibit in the new USS Monitor Center (which opens later this month) because of its focus on the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Monument, the newest member to the National Marine Sanctuary system. Archipelago will be on display at the Museum through Labor Day, 2007. For more information, please contact


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