National Ocean Service has
played an integral role in developing a consensus-based action
plan to address the “dead zone” in the Gulf of Mexico. Stretching
possibly 7,000 square miles off the Louisiana coast, this vast
expanse of ocean is devoid of the region’s usual rich bounty.
Pollution from land is among the biggest contributions of this
travesty. Marine life that can’t flee is suffocated. Drawing
on the best available science, the plan aims to cut nitrogen
discharge from the Mississippi and another river by 30 percent
by 2015. NOS led an integrated scientific assessment that assembled
more than a decade of research on the causes and consequences
of hypoxia, or oxygen deficiency. Don Scavia, NOS’s chief scientist,
led the intergency task force that came up with the adaptive
management plan to reduce, mitigate and control hypoxia.
how much water will come from the heavy snow that has covered
much of New England this year is vital to weather service flood
forecasters. These forecasters have already raised a flag over
the region's potential for spring flooding. To give forecasters
a upper hand in monitoring flood risk, a special NOAA-operated
aircraft traversed the skies over New England, feeding critical
snow pack data to the Northeast Forecast Office in Massachusetts.
Ronald Martin, the center's hydrologist-in-charge, said that
a rapid warning trend coupled with heavy rain could melt snow
fast enough to cause severe flooding of rivers
and streams. Armed with a sophisticated spectrometer, the Twin
Engine Aero Commander is the world's first airborne survey platform.
It is piloted by NOAA Corps Lieutenant Commander Barry Choy.
Corps pilots Lt. CDR Barry Choy (middle) and Lt. Eric Berkowitz
speak with Ron Martin of NOAA's Northeast
River Forecast Center
at Hanscom Field in Massachusetts on flight plans
for areas of New England facing potential spring floods.
The sensing equipment measures natural gamma radiation from
the earth and compares it to readings taken when the land was
free from snow. Gauging the amount of radiation blocked by the
snow pack allows for precisely calculating the water equivalent
of snow. Data from each flight line is trasmitted directly to
the river forecast center where the information is put into
computer models used to produce flood potential maps and forecasts.
the Townsend Cromwell
returned to Honolulu recently from the central Pacific, it
had just completed a coral reef assessment that supported hundreds
of hours of diving surveys. The cruise built upon last year’s
efforts to identify the diversity and abundance of remote and
never before studied coral reef ecosystems. Towboard-mounted video
cameras documented the surveys. There were also fish counts and
collection of algae and invertebrates.
March 13, a one-hour heads-up from the weather service helped
protect Daytona Beach residents when a line of powerful thunderstorms
unleashed a tornado and 100 mph straight-line winds. Together
these elements downed trees and power lines and damaged 250
homes and 60 commercial buildings. There
were 2 injuries and no deaths.
NOAA’s given a $4.8 million grant to help Florida Keys trap
fishermen who had uninsured gear losses from hurricane Georges
and tropical storm Mitch. The grant was given to the Florida
Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission through the National
Marine Fisheries Service.
Mount Cleveland volcano recently erupted again. It’s the second
time this year. NOAA’s geostationary
environmental satellite imagery detected the eruption less
than 10 hours after it occurred. Warnings issued by the weather
service’s Alaska Aviation
Weather Unit tracked the ash cloud as it split into two.
The previous eruption on February 19 disrupted many flights
across the northern Pacific between the Orient and the U.S.
This time, air traffic was not affected. Mount Cleveland is
located in the Aleutian chain 900 miles southwest of Anchorage.
knowledge and awareness of harmful algal blooms is now being
passed onto high school students and environmental groups through
the efforts of National Ocean
Service scientists, the South Carolina Sea Grant consortium
and that state’s Department of Natural Resources. Already providing
scientific and outreach benefits to coastal residents, the partnership
has expanded to include the students and teachers of high school
marine biology programs, with data generated by student volunteers.