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Weekly News: July 2008
July 2008

July 25, 2008
July 18, 2008
July 11, 2008
July 4, 2008


July 25, 2008

NOS Hosts Korean Scientists for Hydrographic Training
From July 19 to August 15, the Office of Coast Survey (OCS) and Office of Marine and Aviation Operations will train two hydrographers from the National Oceanographic Research Institute in the Republic of Korea.  The guests will visit the OCS Pacific Hydrographic Branch in Seattle and take part in hydrographic survey operations on the NOAA Ship RAINIER in Alaska.  They will participate in technical meetings and briefings on hydrographic survey planning, data processing, data management, and chart compilation.  This is a project under the ongoing NOAA-Korea Joint Project Agreement (JPA).  The NOS International Program Office serves as the Executive Secretariat of the JPA for Scientific and Technical Cooperation in Integrated Coastal and Ocean Resources Management.  For more information, contact Dave Neander, Kathryn Mork, or Lynne Mersfelder.

Airborne Gravity Tests Performed in Alaska
NOAA’s National Geodetic Survey is performing airborne gravity test observations and data collection in Alaska as part of the GRAV-D (Gravity for the Re-Definition of the American Vertical Datum) project initiative.  Current flight plans include data lines that cross through the Hydropalooza area in the vicinity of Homer, Alaska.  The NOAA Citation aircraft is being used to support this effort as well as to collect airborne Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR) and color/near infrared imagery.  The program will have profound implications for all activities relying on accurate heights.  Ground observations using absolute and relative gravity meters are also underway and observations will be made in Anchorage, Palmer, Fairbanks, and Kodiak.  For more information, contact Mike Aslaksen.

Homeless Children Experience Sanctuary Explorers Adventure Camp
Fifteen homeless children from shelters, transitional motels, and other unstable living situations enjoyed physical, emotional, and spiritual respite by venturing into the Farallones marine sanctuary this week.  The Farallones Marine Sanctuary Association staff offered its week-long Sanctuary Explorers Adventure (SEA) Camp free of charge to Bay Area youth from the San Francisco-based organization "Home Away From Homelessness.”  Sanctuary campers – some for whom this was their first ocean experience – had fun exploring the sanctuary: hiking on the Marin Headlands at Point Bonita, the spooky thrill of dawn tidepooling at Fitzgerald Marine Reserve, visiting recovering sea lion  “patients” at The Marine Mammal Center, and canoeing in San Francisco Bay.  For more information, contact Sarah Heintzelman.



July 18, 2008

Helping to Build the Ethiopian Geodetic Reference System
NOAA's National Geodetic Survey (NGS) is assisting Ethiopia in building a network of Global Positioning System (GPS) Continuously Operating Reference Stations (CORS) and making the data from these stations available to the public through the NGS Web site.  Data for three of the four CORS constructed in Ethiopia are already available.  These stations were constructed as a partnership between NGS and the Ethiopian Mapping Authority (EMA), who has full control and responsibility for the operation of the stations.   NGS will also work with EMA to complete the requirements for allowing the use of the NGS GPS Online Positioning User Service.  The addition of these stations will have a significant positive impact on the development of the African Geodetic Reference Frame.  For more information, contact Dave Doyle.

NOAA Releases Coral Status Report
The State of Coral Reef Ecosystems of the United States and Pacific Freely Associated States: 2008 was released by NOAA at the 11th International Coral Reef Symposium in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.  The report represents an evolving effort to assess the condition of coral reef ecosystems at local, regional, and national scales, and serves as a vehicle for the dissemination of information about data collection activities in the U.S. and Pacific Freely Associated States.  It is structured to provide information according to the primary threats, topics, and goals outlined in the National Coral Reef Action Strategy and other guidance documents.  The report graded coral ecosystems on a five-tier scale: excellent, good, fair, poor, and unknown; nearly half of U.S. coral reef ecosystems are considered to be in poor or fair condition according to this scale.  For more information, contact Jenny Waddell.

First NOAA Sentinel Installed at Shell Beach, Louisiana
This week, the Center for Operational Oceanographic Products and Services (CO-OPS) installed its first NOAA Sentinel at Shell Beach, Louisiana.  NOAA Sentinels are water-level observing stations which have been strengthened to deliver real-time storm tide data during severe coastal events.  Built to withstand category four hurricanes, CO-OPS has declared these hardened stations to be “NOAA’s Sentinels of the Coast” for their strength and ability to watch over our Nation’s waters.  NOAA Sentinels measure and disseminate real-time water level and weather observations.  These observations help coastal authorities prepare for, mitigate, and respond to storm tides generated by severe coastal storms, helping to develop vulnerability assessments; provide more accurate marine weather and flood forecasts, evacuation planning, and execution; determine when to open and close locks; and facilitate the reopening of ports after storms pass.  For more information, contact Bruce Servary.



July 11, 2008

NOAA and Partners Document Sunken U-boats off North Carolina Coast
From July 7 to July 25, the Monitor National Marine Sanctuary is coordinating a scientific research expedition to the site of the remains of three sunken German submarines off the coast of North Carolina.  The National Marine Sanctuaries Program is leading the expedition as part of a larger World War II Battle of the Atlantic archaeological study.  NOAA will conduct a non-invasive archaeological survey to include photo documentation of the vessels’ visible sections and the biological communities found at the sites.  The expedition is being conducted consistent with U.S. and international policy; the submarines is not being disturbed or recovered, and is being treated with the same respect afforded a U.S. sunken craft.  For more information, contact Dave Alberg.

Project Evaluates Innovative Approaches to Addressing Sediment Pollution
With support from the Cooperative Institute for Coastal and Estuarine Environmental Technology, scientists from the University of New Hampshire’s Contaminated Sediments Center are evaluating an innovative approach to treating polluted sediment in coastal waterways—reactive geotextile mats designed to cap and stabilize pollutants in situ.  The researchers are testing the technology in New Hampshire’s Cocheco River.  The project is distinctive in its systemic approach to evaluating both the effectiveness of this technology and its impact on the surrounding environment.  Over the next two years, the researchers will assess the effectiveness of the mats in trapping and stabilizing a range of toxic contaminants, track their impact on local geomorphology and benthic organisms, and monitor changes in the site’s contaminant profile.  For more information, contact Dwight Trueblood.

Research Contributes to Expansion of Shellfish Harvesting Ban in North Atlantic
Recent findings from National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science (NCCOS)-funded surveys of Alexandrium fundyense abundance in the Gulf of Maine contributed to the June 25 U.S. Food and Drug Administration request to NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service to expand a closure of federal waters for mollusk harvesting in the North Atlantic.  A. fundyense, also known as New England Red Tide, produces a potent toxin that accumulates in shellfish.  This closure was made to protect human health under the authority of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act.  The Ecology and Oceanography of Harmful Algal Blooms Gulf of Maine Toxicity project and NCCOS Event Response surveys found high concentrations of the harmful algal bloom organism in the vicinity of Georges Bank and coastal Gulf of Maine.  For more information, contact Quay Dortch.




July 4, 2008

Historical Hurricane Tracks Updated for 2008 Hurricane Season
New features added to Historical Hurricane Tracks, an online mapping application, can help resource and emergency managers prepare for the 2008 hurricane season.  This NOAA Coastal Services Center product enables users to search and display Atlantic Basin and eastern North Pacific Basin tropical cyclone data.  The following features have been added to the site: posting of the official 2007 hurricane season tracks from the National Hurricane Center; an interactive search-and-display tool combining population data with data on hurricane strikes for coastal counties from Maine to Texas; National Hurricane Center storm reports for the Atlantic Basin and eastern North Pacific Basin; and a tool allowing users to expedite queries by linking directly to online mapping applications with storm tracks of specific geographic areas.  Mapping applications such as Historical Hurricane Tracks can help to lessen disaster-related impacts.  For more information, contact Ethan Gibney.

Marine Forensics Contributes to Protection of Marine Resources
Scientists from the National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science (NCCOS) recently completed analysis of evidence in five NOAA Law Enforcement poaching cases.  Each case involved suspected violations of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, the Lacey Act, the Marine Mammal Protection Act, and the Endangered Species Act.  Using DNA sequencing, NCCOS scientists identified evidence as hawksbill sea turtle in two cases, sperm whale in a third case, and several shark species in the remainder of cases.  Forensic support can be critical in deciding whether civil or criminal penalties against suspected poachers are justified, and can serve as a future deterrent to the illegal use of marine resources.  For more information, contact Kathy Moore or Lara Adams.

U.S. Coast Guard Broadcasts Local Notice on Blue Whales
The U.S. Coast Guard broadcast a message over the marine radio and internet to vessels transiting the Santa Barbara Channel in California.  The announcement notified local mariners of the potential of blue whales feeding in the channel and shipping lanes from June to the middle of November.  Blue whales are listed as an endangered species and afforded protection by the Endangered Species Act, Marine Mammal Protection Act, and National Marine Sanctuaries Act.  In May 2008, the Sanctuary Advisory Council endorsed a Prevention and Emergency Response Plan to reduce ship strikes on blue whales and other large cetaceans.  For more information, contact Sean Hastings.


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