NOAA improves coastal resilience tools for U.S. Pacific Islands vulnerable to natural disasters

NOS tide and surge guidance coverage over the Pacific.

By Jack Riley and Sergey Vinogradov, Ph.D.

The Pacific Ocean is the largest and deepest of Earth’s oceanic divisions. It extends from the Arctic Ocean in the north to the Southern Ocean in the south and is bound by the continents of Asia and Australia in the west and the Americas in the east. Most of the U.S. Pacific territories are located in the northern half of the Pacific Ocean and are among the Pacific Islands that are highly exposed to natural disasters. As part of NOAA’s coastal resilience efforts, the National Ocean Service (NOS) is developing better tools to define changes in water level related to tropical cyclones and other weather related conditions. This work is part of the global effort to develop disaster risk assessment tools and practical technical applications to reduce and mitigate coastal countries’ vulnerability to natural disasters.

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Follow the status of electronic navigational chart improvements with NOAA’s new map viewer

New Jersey and surrounding area displayed in the new web map service.

NOAA’s Office of Coast Survey released a new and improved map viewer featuring the status of NOAA electronic navigational charts (NOAA ENC®) as they undergo major improvements. The data is also available as a GIS map service. The public can now view ENC project status from the planning and creation stages all the way to completion, keeping them better informed when these enhanced navigational charts become available.

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NOAA announces new progress report on mapping U.S. ocean, coastal, and Great Lakes waters

Map showing the geographic distribution and extent of the unmapped areas within U.S. waters. Analysis conducted in January 2020.

NOAA released the first annual report on the progress made in mapping U.S. ocean, coastal, and Great Lakes waters. The depth, shape, and composition of the seafloor are foundational data elements that we need to understand in order to explore, sustainably develop, conserve, and manage our coastal and offshore ocean resources. The 2019 Presidential Memorandum on Ocean Mapping of the United States Exclusive Economic Zone and the Shoreline and Nearshore of Alaska and the global Seabed 2030 initiative make comprehensive ocean mapping a priority for the coming decade. The Unmapped U.S. Waters report tracks progress toward these important goals.

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Nautical Charts: Marine Navigation Joins the Geospatial Revolution

Electronic navigational chart displayed on an Electronic Chart Display and Information System (ECDIS) on NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson.

By Rear Adm. Shepard M. Smith

When I traveled around Europe as a young man, my first stop upon leaving the train station in a new city was at the tourist bureau kiosk for a paper city map. On a recent trip to Malaysia, I used my phone to find walking instructions to a street market across town. When I arrived, I described my route to my host, who said that the pedestrian bridge I had used only opened the week before.

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Coast Survey Spotlight: MaryRose Sheldon

MaryRose Sheldon became attached to the idea of working for NOAA while in college, because the mission and work aligned with her values and passions.

Ever wonder what it’s like to be a member of the NOAA Coast Survey team? We use the Coast Survey spotlight blog series as a way to periodically share the experiences of Coast Survey employees as they discuss their work, background, and advice.


MaryRose Sheldon, marine cartographer

“Mariners use our products to pilot our nation’s waters, and they rely on us to bring attention to obstacles to navigation.”

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The Great Lakes are getting a digital upgrade

Screenshot of an ENC for the Pelee Passage Southeast Shoal.

NOAA’s Office of Coast Survey collaborated with U.S. and Canadian mariners, the Lake Carriers’ Association (LCA), and the Canadian Chamber of Marine Commerce (CMC) to update the Recommend Courses in Lake Erie and transfer them from paper charts to NOAA electronic navigational charts (NOAA ENC®). This bi-national effort involved compiling and updating information for Lake Erie’s 75 routes which span both U.S. and Canadian waters. These routes cover 20 NOAA and five Canadian ENCs.

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NOAA ship readies for historic deployment to the Western Pacific to map the oceans

NOAA Ship Rainier in the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument.

In three weeks, NOAA Ship Rainier will depart on the farthest journey of its 52-year history as it embarks on a multidisciplinary mapping trip to the Western Pacific. Rainier and a diverse team of scientists on board will map the waters from shore to almost 2000 meters deep around Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands including Saipan, Rota, and Tinian. The data and observations collected will support safe navigation, coral habitat and fisheries conservation, and storm surge and tsunamis modeling. The data will also be made available to those at the local level and contribute to the larger national and global initiatives regarding comprehensive seafloor mapping.

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NOAA hydrographic community prepares for field season at annual workshop

Attendees of the NOAA 2020 Field Procedures Workshop.

The field of hydrography, like most sciences, is comprised of experts honing their craft, improving their tools, building upon the successes of previous years, and learning from their mistakes. Hydrographers typically accomplish this iterative process in the field, publishing papers, presenting at industry conferences, and often through discussions over the phone or via email. However, once a year, the NOAA hydrographic community — those who measure and describe the features of the seafloor to update nautical charts and support a variety of sciences — meets at the Field Procedures Workshop to not only share information, but have frank discussions about their challenges and the path forward in preparation for the upcoming hydrographic field season.

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NOAA releases 2020 hydrographic survey season plans

NOAA 2020 Hydrographic Survey Season Story Map Cover

NOAA hydrographic survey ships and contractors are preparing for the 2020 hydrographic survey season. The ships collect bathymetric data (i.e. map the seafloor) to support nautical charting, modeling, and research, but also collect other environmental data to support a variety of ecosystem sciences. NOAA considers hydrographic survey requests from stakeholders such as marine pilots, local port authorities, the Coast Guard, and the boating community, and also consider other hydrographic  and NOAA science priorities in determining where to survey and when. Visit our “living” story map to find out more about our mapping projects and if a hydrographic vessel will be in your area this year!

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