NOAA bathymetric data helps scientists more accurately model tsunami risk within Barry Arm

Barry Glacier, Alaska.

In May of 2020, local geologists identified a steep, unstable slope that has the potential to become a tsunami-generating landslide in Barry Arm, a glacial fjord 60 miles east of Anchorage, Alaska. With documented cases of tsunami-generating landslides in Alaska including Lituya Bay in 1958 and Taan Fjord in 2015, this new hazard immediately caught the attention of state and federal partners who quickly joined forces to quantify the risk to those living and boating in Alaska’s Prince William Sound, specifically the communities of Whittier, Valdez, Cordova, Tatitlek, and Chenega.

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NOAA Coast Survey’s new strategy supports charting mandates and broader seafloor mapping

This week, NOAA’s Office of Coast Survey released the Mapping U.S. Marine and Great Lakes Waters: Office of Coast Survey Contributions to a National Ocean Mapping Strategy. This report is part of NOAA’s ongoing commitment to meet core surveying and nautical charting mandates while supporting broader needs to fill gaps in seafloor mapping and environmental sciences.

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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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Do you believe in miracles? New exhibit highlights National Weather Service support of 1980 Winter Olympic Games

This week, as part of the 40th anniversary of the XIII Olympic Winter Games in 1980, the Lake Placid Olympic Museum launched the exhibit, Foretelling the Future – The National Weather Service at the 1980 Olympic Winter Games. These Olympic Games stand out in our collective memory as the venue for the “miracle on ice,” when the U.S. hockey team beat the 4-time Olympic champions, the Soviet Union. Little do most people know, however, another kind of team was pulling off a small miracle of their own at these games. 

Meteorologist Jack May taking the ice temperature of the bobsled/luge track prior to the start of competition.
Meteorologist Jack May taking the ice temperature of the bobsled/luge track prior to the start of competition.
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nowCOAST® offers new Gulf of Maine, Chesapeake Bay forecast services

Depiction of NOS Vv probability of occurrence forecast guidance for Chesapeake Bay on nowCOAST map viewer.

NOAA’s nowCOAST®, a GIS-based online web mapping service that provides frequently updated weather and ocean observations, analyses, imagery, and ocean model forecast guidance, along with weather watches and warnings and forecasts, now provides maps of oceanographic forecast guidance from the National Ocean Service (NOS) 3-D operational forecast modeling system for the Gulf of Maine (GoMOFS) and NOS forecast guidance of the marine pathogen, Vibrio Vulnificus (Vv), for the Chesapeake Bay via two new map services and map viewer. Continue reading “nowCOAST® offers new Gulf of Maine, Chesapeake Bay forecast services”

NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson tests drone use for shoreline mapping

By, Lt. j.g. Matt Sharr, NOAA, and Lt. Charles Wisotzkey, NOAA

NOAA’s Office of Coast Survey and the National Geodetic Survey (NGS) recently conducted operational tests of small unmanned aerial systems — or drones — on board NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson in support of survey operations conducted along the south coast of Puerto Rico. The tests show the potential of imagery from low-cost off-the-shelf drones to meet NOAA survey specifications for near-shore and shoreline feature mapping. This could replace traditional shoreline verification and mapping techniques used by NOAA hydrographic survey field units. Potential benefits of using drones for shoreline mapping include: improved data collection efficiency compared to data collection from small skiffs; more accurate feature investigation than traditional techniques; and, most importantly, removal of personnel from potentially dangerous situations (i.e. survey in close proximity to features being mapped). Continue reading “NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson tests drone use for shoreline mapping”

NOAA makes forecast data easier to display in marine navigation systems

By Neil Weston, Office of Coast Survey Technical Director

Have you ever been on the water when weather and sea conditions suddenly change? As mariners can attest, decisions need to be made quickly. Many rely on NOAA operational forecast system (OFS) data—a national network of nowcast and forecast models—to make decisions about their situation on the water. NOAA OFS are available to the mariner as data streams through a variety of websites, including nowCOAST™. However, only recently has OFS data been viewable on marine navigation systems, making it even more convenient for those needing to make critical decisions on the water.

Rose Point’s Coastal Explorer displays NOAA surface current data.
Rose Point’s Coastal Explorer, one example of many navigation software packages available, displays NOAA surface current data.

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NOAA Office of Coast Survey wraps up a busy 2017 hurricane season

The 2017 Atlantic hurricane season was powerful, with the strongest storms occurring consecutively from late August to early October. The sequential magnitude of four hurricanes in particular—Harvey, Irma, Maria, and Nate—made response efforts challenging for NOAA’s Office of Coast Survey. Coast Survey summarized this season’s response efforts along with the efforts of NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson (operated by NOAA’s Office of Marine and Aviation Operations) in the following story map. Continue reading “NOAA Office of Coast Survey wraps up a busy 2017 hurricane season”