Weekly News: October 2005
In the aftermath of Hurricane Wilma, NOAA’s Office of Coast Survey Navigation Response Teams (NRTs) are providing response services in support of NOAA's mission to promote safe marine navigation. After Hurricane Wilma made landfall, NRTs began to survey the waterways in Florida, including Port Everglades and Port Canaveral. NRTs are scheduled to survey the Port of Miami, Lake Worth Inlet (Port of Palm Beach), and the Port of Key West. Communications continue with the Coast Guard District, Army Corps District Offices, the Navy, and local pilots and port authorities on survey needs and findings in navigation project areas. Such surveying to verify clear waters or locate obstructions after a natural or man-made disaster is critical to reopening the port. For more information, contact Howard.Danley@noaa.gov or Rick.Fletcher@noaa.gov.
NOAA scientists have confirmed that a major coral bleaching event is underway in the Caribbean, which may result in significant coral death in much of the region. Warnings of the onset of this event were first reported by the NOAA Coral Reef Watch Satellite Bleaching Alert monitoring system, which automatically monitors for the thermal stress that gives rise to coral bleaching. Bleaching was first seen in late August in the Florida Keys and has now spread throughout much of the eastern Caribbean. Since early October, bleaching alerts have been issued for both Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, where thermal stress is at record levels. Thermal stress has reached Degree Heating Week (DHWs) values of over 15 at some locations. Each DHW represents one week of temperatures 1ºC above the maximum highest monthly average. Accumulated over three months, DHWs above four are virtually always accompanied by bleaching; DHW levels above eight are believed to cause increased coral mortality and inability to recover. For more information, contact Mark.Eakin@noaa.gov.
From October 17-21, a five-day Shipwreck Reconnaissance Expedition was completed at the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary aboard the NOAA R/V SHEARWATER. Archaeological investigations included further documentation of a Grumman AF-2W Guardian airplane, lost off Santa Cruz Island, and site evaluation of the F/V RELIANCE, lost at Santa Rosa Island. Also recorded was a three-masted, full-rigged sailing ship named AGGI, lost 90 years ago off Santa Rosa Island. At the AGGI site, the dive team added one datum monitor station and georeferenced the existing five datums. The permanent datums will allow for accurate measurements of major artifacts during the second five-day expedition to the site scheduled for November aboard the NPS R/V PACIFIC RANGER. The shipwreck reconnaissance program at the Channel Islands has been an ongoing collaboration between the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary, National Park Service, the Coastal Maritime Archeology Resources organization, and the State of California. For more information, contact Robert.Schwemmer@noaa.gov.
The National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science's (NCCOS) Center for Coastal Environmental Health and Biomolecular Research (CCEHBR) are assisting with recovery and assessment activities to support seafood safety in the Gulf Region following Hurricane Katrina. The Cooperative Oxford Laboratory and Center for Coastal Monitoring and Assessment are sampling long-term National Status and Trends Program sites within the region for E. coli and Enterococcus bacteria levels in surface waters. CCEHBR is also helping the National Marine Fisheries Service's Pascagoula National Seafood Laboratory restore scientific capabilities at the lab. For more information, contact Ak.Leight@noaa.gov or Paul.Comar@noaa.gov.
After working with NOAA’s National Geodetic Survey for several years, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) has converted their data reference systems to North American Vertical Datum 1988 (NAVD88). USACE converted districts along the Gulf Coast, Mississippi River (Memphis South), and Jacksonville/Savannah district on the Atlantic Coast. USACE requires that all new projects reference NAVD88, pre-existing projects will be converted once completed, and future projects will reference the system. The Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency and Management Agency (FEMA) are also in the process of establishing plans to convert to NAVD88. Use of a common datum for vertical reference, such as NAVD88, eliminates the need for vertical datum transformations to combine and compare coastal geospatial data collected from diverse sources. For more information, contact Ronnie.Taylor@noaa.gov.
On October 2-6, the National Centers for Coastal and Ocean Science’s (NCCOS) Center for Sponsored Coastal Ocean Research (CSCOR) co-sponsored the 3rd Symposium on Harmful Algae in the U.S, in Pacific Grove, California. Researchers, federal and state resource managers, and students met to present and discuss recent results of harmful algal bloom research in coastal waters, estuaries, and the Great Lakes. Participants also shared results from projects sponsored by the Ecology and Oceanography of Harmful Algal Blooms (ECOHAB) program and the Monitoring and Event Response for Harmful Algal Blooms (MERHAB) program. Synthesis and modeling, linkages between research and management, and the importance of outreach were featured in talks from large regional projects in the Gulf of Maine, the Pacific Northwest, Florida, and the mid-Atlantic states. Some initial observations from the 2005 Alexandrium fundyense bloom in southern New England were also presented. The symposium program and abstracts are available at http://www.whoi.edu/redtide/3rdsymposium/AbstractBook.pdf. For more information, contact Quay.Dortch@noaa.gov or Marc.Suddleson@noaa.gov.
NOAA, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) are coordinating an environmental impact assessment of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in coastal waters and wetlands throughout the affected areas of Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama. This effort integrates response activities of agency scientists currently aboard the EPA’s OSV Bold and NOAA’s R/V Nancy Foster, FDA small boat teams, and numerous field teams. The interagency response includes six major projects to assess coastal ecosystems, including biological conditions, fisheries, water and sediment quality, seafood safety, and human-health risks. The National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science (NCCOS) is playing a key role in interagency coordination and planning, and NCCOS scientists in the National Status and Trends Program and the Oceans and Human Health Initiative are monitoring and assessing current and longer term concentrations of human pathogens and chemical contaminants in fish, shellfish, and sediments in Gulf waters. Project results will be used to support environmental and public health recovery and restoration efforts. For more information, contact John.Christensen@noaa.gov or Russell.Callender@noaa.gov.
Following Hurricane Rita’s landfall, NOAA collected more than 2,000 high-resolution digital shoreline images between Galveston, Texas and Lake Charles, Louisiana. The images are available at http://ngs.woc.noaa.gov/rita. Additionally, a number of Navigation Response Teams (NRT) and the NOAA ship, Thomas Jefferson, are performing post-storm hydrographic surveys. They have completed surveys in Houston, Galveston, Sabine Pass, Port Arthur, and Calcasieu Pass and continue operations in the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway. Digital shoreline images assist communities and relief efforts with safety and cleanup issues associated with damage assessment, prior to recovery and reconstruction. NOAA’s hydrographic surveys are essential to reopening impacted ports to emergency response vessels and maritime commerce. For more information regarding hurricane imagery, contact Mike.Aslaksen@noaa.gov or Dave.Neander@noaa.gov; for additional information regarding NRT response, contact Howard.Danley@noaa.gov or Rick.Fletcher@noaa.gov.
A non-technical informational guide entitled “Where Am I Going? A Manager's Guide to GPS” has been published for the coastal and marine resource management community. The guide introduces the Global Positioning System (GPS), illustrates the benefits GPS can provide, and discusses considerations for purchasing GPS equipment. The 17-page booklet was published by the NOAA Pacific Services Center. For more information or to request a copy, contact Adam.Stein@noaa.gov.
The Hydrographic Planning Team (HPT) from NOAA’s Center for Operational Oceanographic Products and Services (CO-OPS) was called on by NOAA’s Office of Coast Survey (OCS) to supply discreet tidal zoning for several Hurricane Rita response surveys in Texas and Louisiana. HPT efforts will allow NOAA hydrographic vessels to immediately respond to navigational requirements from Houston/Galveston, Texas, to Lake Charles, Louisiana. After several gauges were destroyed by Hurricane Rita, necessary tide gauge installations for hydrographic surveys were coordinated between CO-OPS, OCS, and Texas Coastal Ocean Observation Network (TCOON) personnel. The CO-OPS Field Operations Division (FOD), located in Chesapeake, Virginia, deployed several teams to affected areas to assess, upgrade, fix, and reinstall destroyed gauges. FOD also sent a representative to assist the NOAA vessels with hands-on tide gauge support. FOD will also be distributing tidal zoning for additional surveys along the Texas coast as needed, and will continue to troubleshoot tide gauges. For more information, contact Cary.Wong@noaa.gov, David.Jones@noaa.gov, or Larry.Neeson@noaa.gov.
The United States Coast Guard recently established the Maritime Recovery and Restoration Task Force to track and assess recovery after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. The Task Force is developing a variety of measurements to quantify the short-term recovery rate for the maritime transportation system, while also identifying actions needed for long-term restoration of the infrastructure and environment in the Gulf region. NOAA's Office of Response and Restoration and Office of Coast Survey staff are assisting the Task Force by working with a number of NOAA offices to facilitate access to information held within the agency. Information is being provided on restoration of navigation services, weather, oil spills, damage assessment, and fisheries effects. For more information, contact Ed.Levine@noaa.gov.
On October 2, participants from across NOAA and NOS were on-hand at the 2005 Coast Day festival in Lewes, Delaware. The annual festival attracted over 18,000 people. NOAA-led activities tested the public's knowledge on weather issues through Weather Jeopardy and led kids on an adventure to excavate shipwrecks, make fish prints, and try on a real NOAA survival suit! The state of Delaware also received a ‘Storm Ready’ certificate from NOAA for being the first state in the country to be storm ready. NOS offices that participated in the outreach event included: the Marine Protected Areas (MPA) Center, National Marine Sanctuaries Office, National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science, the Center for Operational Oceanographic Products and Services, and the Communication and Education Division. NOS’s Acting Deputy Director, Captain Craig Mclean, was one of the featured speakers at the event. Click here to view images from the event. For more information, contact Nadia.Sbeih@noaa.gov.
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