Weekly News: January 2006
NOAA's Office of Coast Survey (OCS) is now providing NOAA nautical chart data to the National Map, a project by the United States Geological Survey to provide public domain core geographic data about the United States through online thematic mapping. The National Map contains various layers of data that can be integrated together, with multiple data levels from local, state, and national government agencies. OCS worked closely with the National Map team to contribute layers from NOAA's "Electronic Navigational Charts (ENC) Direct to GIS" portal, allowing the National Map to include coverage of U.S. coastal waters with data from ENCs. ENC Direct data displayed in the National Map are scale dependent and divided into themes, so they appear at different levels of zoom and in different sections of the map layers list. Charted depth contours and soundings are among the layers that have been added to the National Map from ENC Direct. The national map can be accessed at: http://nationalmap.gov. For more information, contact James.Hawks@noaa.gov or Matthew.Austin@noaa.gov.
The NOAA Coastal Services Center partnered with private industry to acquire high-resolution topographic elevation data for portions of the Gulf Coast region. The projects used both Light Detecting and Ranging (lidar) and Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar (IfSAR) technologies, and the data will assist in critical decision making in areas such as water quality, land use planning, storm surge, and emergency response. Satellite-based coastal land cover was also acquired for the region, with post-Katrina products planned for fiscal year 2006. The completed data sets are available at: http://www.csc.noaa.gov/landcover/. For more information, contact Steve.Raber@noaa.gov.
In the Great Lakes, toxins produced by blue-green algae (cyanobacteria) present a serious threat to recreational activities and public health. Toxins can have serious, even fatal, effects on humans and animals. To address bloom-related problems faced by the Great Lakes region, a team of scientists funded through the NOS Monitoring and Event Response for Harmful Algal Blooms (MERHAB) Program are developing an integrated harmful algal bloom (HAB) alert system of detection methods. Scientists demonstrated the efficacy of the combined application of satellite, conventional HAB detection methods, and molecular tools to detect, assess, predict, control, and mitigate HAB events. This practical, tiered alert approach to monitoring potentially toxic blooms on Lake Erie will be refined and expanded upon over the next two years. In addition, researchers are coordinating with public health and water quality managers to raise awareness about toxic HAB impacts and the need for sustained HAB monitoring in the Great Lakes. For additional details on the MERHAB-Lower Great Lakes program, please visit http://www.esf.edu/chemistry/merhab. For more information on MERHAB, please visit http://www.cop.noaa.gov/stressors/extremeevents/hab/current/fact-merhab.html or contact Marc.Suddleson@noaa.gov.
NOAA’s Coastal Services Center (CSC) is working with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and other agencies to coordinate recovery efforts in hurricane-ravaged areas of Louisiana and Mississippi. Over the past two months, CSC has helped coordinate a series of workshops with governmental leaders in the most impacted Louisiana parishes. CSC is also helping to coordinate Louisiana Recovery Planning Day (January 21), which will consist of 30 open house events in 20 parishes, five Louisiana cities, and six out-of-state cities where large numbers of displaced Louisianans are living. Louisiana Recovery Planning Day will involve citizens in planning for their own long-term recovery and give people an update on recovery planning efforts in their home parishes. CSC has also been working with FEMA to develop a new series of topographic maps that will help property owners in Mississippi Gulf Coast counties rebuild at safer elevations. The topographic maps will simplify the process of determining the elevation a structure needs to be raised in order to meet FEMA advisories. To view the maps, visit http://www.fema.gov/hazards/floods/recoverydata/index.shtm. For more information regarding activities in Louisiana, contact Heidi.Recksiek@noaa.gov. For more information regarding activities in Mississippi, contact Doug.Marcy@noaa.gov.
NOAA personnel from National Marine Sanctuary Program, Office of Coast Survey, Office of Response and Restoration, National Marine Fisheries, Restoration Center, and Public Affairs met on January 10, 2006 with representatives from the U.S. Army’s Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Environment, Safety and Occupational Health to address issues of chemical munitions in U.S. waters. NOAA presented general information about NOAA's trust resources and scientific expertise. The Army is interested in obtaining historical and current information from nautical charts, the Coast Pilot, and the Automated Wreck and Obstruction Information System; data from the Resources and UnderSea Threats (RUST) database; recommendations on appropriate oceanographic, bathymetric, and archaeological survey and assessment methods; and general information on locations of NOAA trust resources and related activities. For more information, contact Lisa.Symons@noaa.gov.
After first being sighted floating dead by a local fisherman, a 45-foot humpback whale washed ashore on Cape Island, South Carolina on January 11, 2006. This remote island in the Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge made access difficult, but scientists from the National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science were able to conduct a necropsy on the female humpback whale. Preliminary results of the necropsy revealed multiple fractures to the ribs, suggesting the whale had been struck by a ship. This whale may help scientists to learn more about the mitigation process of large whale ship strikes. For more information, contact Wayne.Mcfee@noaa.gov.
On September 22, 1998, an estimated 500 to 1,500 barrels of crude oil were discharged into the environment near Lake Grande Ecaille in Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana, resulting in injuries to intermediate marsh, birds, and wildlife. Acting as natural resource trustees, NOAA, the Department of the Interior, and the State of Louisiana conducted a natural resource damage assessment and determined that a marsh creation/enhancement project could compensate for the suite of injuries resulting from the spill. The trustees prepared plans to address the restoration of natural resources and services injured by the responsible party and released a final Damage Assessment and Restoration Plan. The restoration project includes two components: a five-acre marsh creation and an eight-acre marsh enhancement using the "thin-layer" technique for dredged material disposal. On January 5, 2006, a settlement was signed that will pay for past assessment costs and restoration implementation. The trustees will use the bulk of settlement for salt marsh creation and enhancement in Barataria Bay (Plaquemines Parish). For more information, contact Tony.Penn@noaa.gov.
The National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science (NCCOS) is developing methods to identify coastal areas with high mercury concentrations in fish. The method will allow coastal managers to take remedial action and limit fish consumption that endangers human health. NCCOS research has documented the high mercury concentrations in fish from eastern Florida Bay. NCCOS identified several characteristics contributing to high mercury concentrations, including water depth and water flushing. Initial application of data from NOAA's National Estuarine Eutrophication Assessment identified several estuaries likely to have high mercury concentrations because of their shallow depth and poor flushing. Efforts are underway to incorporate additional measures in this predictive model. For more information, contact David.W.Evans@noaa.gov.
This week, NOAA's Office of Response and Restoration met with staff from the Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary (Sanctuary) and National Marine Fisheries Service to discuss oil spill response strategies for the Sanctuary. Oil tankers and other vessels pass near the Sanctuary as they travel the busy North Puget Sound marine transportation corridor that extends from the entrance of the Strait of Juan de Fuca to Washington State's refineries and approaches to the Ports of Seattle, Tacoma, and Vancouver, Canada. The Sanctuary and Olympic National Park comprise the longest stretch of undeveloped shoreline in the continental United States. Oceanographic conditions and access difficulties make the Olympic Coast a particular spill response challenge. For more information, contact Ruth.Yender@noaa.gov.
At a recent meeting of the Port Association of Louisiana in Baton Rogue, Louisiana, a representative from the Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management made a presentation on the Portfields Initiative and announced the new Southern Louisiana Portfields pilot. Portfields is a NOAA-led federal interagency effort that focuses on the redevelopment of brownfields in port and harbor areas, with an emphasis on development of environmentally sound port facilities. The kickoff meetings for the Southern Louisiana Portfields pilot will be held April in New Orleans and Lafayette/Lake Charles, Louisiana. These meetings will bring together federal, state, and local partners and Louisiana port authorities to identify priority port projects and match partners in order to provide financial and technical assistance. Representatives from successful Portfields pilot programs in New Bedford, Massachusetts; Bellingham, Washington; and Tampa, Florida will participate in the meetings, to share their experiences and lessons learned. For more information, contact Kenneth.Walker@noaa.gov.
On December 29, NOAA’s Navigation Response Team 5 (NRT5) assisted New Jersey Police in locating a missing officer's body. On Christmas night, in heavy rain and fog, a police vehicle carrying two officers drove off a drawbridge and plunged into the Hackensack River, killing both men. Police officers searched for the bodies and the vehicle in the river and along its banks. The vehicle and one officer were eventually recovered. NOAA's NRT5 was called in to assist divers with the search for the body of the missing officer. Using emergency hydrographic side scan sonar surveys and diving capabilities, the team was able to locate the officer’s body. For more information, contact Rick.Fletcher@noaa.gov.
Assessing Nutrient Pollution in Estuarine Research Reserves
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