GCOOS is the Gulf of Mexico regional component of the U.S. Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS). Our mission is to provide timely, reliable and accurate information on the open and coastal ocean waters of the Gulf of Mexico to ensure a healthy, clean, productive ocean and resilient coastal zone.
January 2016 - In This Issue:
I hope everyone had a great holiday season and enjoyed a little bit of downtime in December. Now that 2016 is here, we're certainly off to a busy start. Here are a couple of important updates:
  • I hope to hear from IOOS about our five-year grant proposal within the next week or two. If you'll recall, we had to develop plans for three budget tiers -- $1.5 million, $2.5 million and $4 million. Our proposal was heavily focused on observations following our five priority themes and builds on our observational collaborations with researchers throughout the Gulf.
  • Could this be the year of HFR? Possibly. At the last OOS director's meeting, we decided to focus our annual federal funding requests on things that we think will truly help us make solid gains in our ocean observing capabilities. The idea is that funding will allow us to close gaps in certain types of observational needs. This year, our "Closing the Gaps" campaign will focus on the need for funding for HFR projects. We hope this new strategy will allow us to be more successful in gaining support for projects that will really help us expand our ocean observing capabilities -- not just in each region, but throughout the U.S.
While IOOS works to be more strategic in its funding requests, at GCOOS, we're also trying to think more strategically. At our next meeting, our board will be working to develop a new strategic plan for the organization. While this is required under the IOOS certification process, I believe it is also an important tool that will help us make sure we're focusing on the right things at the right times and also maximizing our limited funding.

That's about all for now. See you next month!

Contact GCOOS
Dr. Barbara Kirkpatrick , Executive Director

Dr. Matthew K. Howard
DMAC Coordinator

 Dr. Chris Simoniello
Outreach and Education Coordinator

Dr. Shinichi Kobara
, Assistant Research Scientist, Product Developer

Felimon Gayanilo
, Systems Architect

Bob Currier
, Research Specialist, Product Developer

Stephanie Watson, Strategic Program Manager 

Marion Stoessel
Senior Research Associate

Nadine Slimak, Public Relations & Content Marketing, Vetted Communications, LLC

Susan Martin
, Research Associate

Laura Caldwell
, Staff Assistant
News from GCOOS HQ
New GCOOS Video Highlights Importance of Marine Observations, Need for Expansion
GCOOS recently developed a new 4-minute video   that highlights our mission to help protect and preserve the Gulf and keep its residents safe. It also explores the need to maintain and enhance our existing observation tools, bring new measurements online and fill the largest data gaps.
"For the last 10 years, GCOOS has been quietly expanding data collection and access to data throughout the Gulf of Mexico," said Dr. Barbara Kirkpatrick, GCOOS Executive Director. "But it's important that the public have a better understanding of what ocean observing systems do and why it is important to develop, maintain and expand them. That's why we created this video."
The video, posted to GCOOS' new YouTube Channel, is being sent to members of the media in the five Gulf states. We are also working to share it and our messages with our state and federal lawmakers. Please help us spread the word: share the video through your social media and professional networks.
While this is the first "official" video we've produced, we certainly don't want it to be the last. We hope you will send us your own field-related videos and video snippets and keep us abreast of what's happening with your projects (whether you have video or not). Please email our public relations consultant, Nadine Slimak at Vetted Communications, with your news any time.
Call for Nominations: GCOOS Board of Directors
GCOOS' Membership Committee is seeking nominations for the organization's Board of Directors. The nomination deadline is 5 p.m. CST, Friday, March 4, 2016. Ballots will be sent out for a vote on Friday, March 11. Voting ends at close of business Friday, March 25.

Board duties include:
  • Setting policy for the organization and providing direction to the Executive Director;
  • Revising bylaws and other documents as necessary;
  • Establishing and maintaining the structure of the Regional Association, including approval of appointments to the RA's Councils, Committees, Task Teams or other groups;
  • Approving budgets, the business model, proposals and endorsements requested by members for proposals they intend to submit.
About Board Service:
  • Terms are three years and begin at the autumn Board meeting (usually held in September);
  • The Board meets twice annually in person and via phone every two months; the Board may also be called to meet when priority situations arise;
  • Directors are not paid; however expenses related to GCOOS in-person Board meetings are reimbursed;
  • Self-nominations are welcome.
New NOAA Climate Steward
GCOOS' Education and Outreach Manager Dr. Chris Simoniello was recently named a NOAA Climate Steward. The Program provides formal and informal educators working with elementary through university age students with sustained professional development, collaborative tools and support to build a climate-literate public that is actively engaged in climate stewardship. It also provides support for educators to execute climate stewardship (mitigation or adaptation) projects to increase understanding of climate science and take practical actions to reduce impacts.

The project is part of NOAA's portfolio of activities to strengthen ocean, climate and atmospheric science education. Dr. Simoniello will work to educate the public and implement a project to mitigate flooding caused by clogged storm drains in St. Petersburg, Fla.

Congratulations Dr. Simoniello!

GCOOS Finalist for Partner of the Year
GCOOS is a finalist for the Pinellas County Schools (Fla.) Business Partner of the year award, which recognizes contributions made by businesses and organizations in support of schools. Through the leadership of GCOOS' Education and Outreach Manager, Dr. Chris Simoniello, we've worked with students from Bay Point Elementary School on science learning for the past five years, reaching more than 2,000 students. Such outreach helps us share ideas and activities for increasing ocean and science literacy on the national stage through the U.S. IOOS Education and Outreach Committee and the Gulf of Mexico Alliance Education and Engagement Priority Issue Team.
Strengthening the Relationship between IOOS and NERRS
GCOOS staff are participating in an upcoming meeting designed to strengthen connections between IOOS and members of the National Estuarine Research Reserve System. The meeting will include participants form the Caribbean to New England and is designed to help build a communication network and data sharing framework to link IOOS blue water and nearshore observing systems with the NERRS capacity to monitor estuarine and inshore waters. 

Network goals:
  • Provide better access to coastal intelligence information that is collected by NERRS and IOOS and their NOAA and non-NOAA partners;
  • Create opportunities for collaboration through data sharing and data synthesis;
  • Increase capacity in existing observing networks to understand episodic events (e.g., coastal storms) and their impacts on coastal ecosystems and including humans.

Partner News
NAS Gulf Research Program Awards Data Synthesis Grants
The Gulf Research Program of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine has announced recipients of nine data synthesis grants, totaling more than $4.4 million. These grants are designed to support activities that synthesize existing data for one of two purposes:
  • To inform efforts to restore and maintain the Gulf of Mexico's ecosystem services;
  • To enhance understanding of the deep Gulf or its physical and biological connectivity to coastal communities.
NCEI to Hold Next "Intro to ISO" Series
The National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) will begin its next "Intro to ISO" online metadata series from 9:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. CST, Feb. 10, 2016. The series will continue each Wednesday through March 16. The course presents the concept, principles and value of metadata utilizing the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) 191** metadata. Sessions will be recorded and available to registered participants for viewing at alternate times.
Marine Industries Science & Technology Cluster Town Hall at Ocean Sciences
MIST will be hosting a town hall on the impact of ocean observing systems, various roles within OOS and ways the cluster and can support OOS efforts.

Featured speaker is Zdenka Wills, Director of the U.S. IOOS Program Office, who will provide an overview of IOOS, the Gulf coast OOS and results of the Ocean Enterprise Study. Other topics will include the role of the University of Southern Mississippi in GCOOS, the role of industry partners in IOOS and GCOOS and MIST cluster support to GCOOS and other Gulf Coast programs. There will also be a Q&A session.
Louisiana Sea Grant-Funded Projects Announced
The Louisiana Sea Grant College Program will support eight research projects beginning Feb. 1, 2016.
Authority Releases Economic Evaluation of Land Loss in Louisiana
According to a study recently presented to Louisiana's Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority, the state's degrading coastal environment is making the state more vulnerable to hurricane damage, including the possibility that if another Katrina-type storm occurred in the next 50 years, it could cause more than $133 billion in damage.

The two-year study conducted by the LSU Economics and Policy Research Group and the RAND Corporation quantified economic impacts of ongoing and future land loss in Louisiana, demonstrating a need and justification for Coastal Master Plan project expenditures that can save billions during future storm events.

Federal Regulations for Oil & Gas Royalties Announced
According to Jacob Batte at houmatoday.com, federal regulations guiding millions of dollars in oil and gas revenues to coastal states for restoration projects beginning in 2017 were published in the Federal Register on Dec. 30, 2015 and take effect near the end of January. The regulations implement Phase II of the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act (GOMESA) of 2006 (PL 109-432), which was heavily co-sponsored by Congress members from the Gulf, and significantly enhanced OCS oil and gas leasing activities and revenue sharing in the Gulf. The regulations resolve a key financial component guiding millions in oil and gas revenues to coastal restoration projects. Under the law, 50 percent of offshore drilling royalties is directed to the U.S. Treasury, 37.5 percent goes to Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas and the remaining 12.5 percent is allocated to the Land and Water Conservation Fund.

Gulf Restoration News
Deepwater Horizon Project Tracker Update
The DWH Project Tracker now includes 440 projects and provides one of the most comprehensive overviews of projects funded with oil spill monies.

The tracker includes quick summaries organized by funding agency, by state and by category. The site also provides settlement news from state and federal governments.
Mississippi's Multiyear Implementation Plan Public Comment Extended
On Dec. 9, Mississippi's initial Multiyear Implementation Plan (MIP) was made available for public review and comment in accordance with the RESTORE Act. An addendum to the initial MIP has been published that provides clarification on each project's start date, end date and the availability of a map illustrating the location of each project.

The public review and comment period has been extended to Friday, Feb. 5.
  • Submit written comments electronically by email to Melanie Green, by fax at 601.961.5366 or by mail to MDEQ, Attn: Melanie Green, 515 East Amite St., Jackson, MS 39201.
Restoration Resources
By State:

Employment Opportunities
Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium (LUMCON)
Two Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) positions are available for the summer of 2016. Students will design and conduct studies that contribute to the larger Coastal Waters Consortium (http://cwc.lumcon.edu) collaborative effort studying the effects of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill on Louisiana salt marshes and coastal environments.
Over the past 4-plus years, CWC researchers have been studying the impacts of the spill at paired oiled-unoiled marshes across the southeastern Louisiana coast. REU students will be expected to work with a team of researchers (under the supervision of Dr. Brian Roberts and/or Dr. Nancy Rabalais) to develop studies that address aspects of the larger effort. We are particularly interested in students with a desire to conduct projects on wetland biogeochemistry, plant ecology, microbial ecology, sediment microalgae and/or subtidal benthos. The REU students will be involved in both the field and laboratory components of their project as well as a variety of related projects and experiments being conducted by other LUMCON and CWC researchers.
Candidates must be available for a 10-week period beginning in early June 2016. Provided is a $500/week stipend, room and board at the Marine Center in Cocodrie, La., (http://www.lumcon.edu) and support for their research.
Ideal candidates should be interested in pursuing careers in ecology or biogeochemistry; creative; hard-working; detail orientated; dedicated and comfortable working as part of research team. Experience with field or laboratory research in these areas is a plus but not necessary. Background or at least one course in ecology, chemistry, biogeochemistry or environmental science is required. To be eligible, you must be returning to an undergraduate degree program in the fall (e.g., if you will graduate in May or June, you are NOT eligible). 
  • Deadline: April 1, 2016.
  • Applications should include: copy of unofficial transcripts, contact information for two academic references, CV/resume and a one-page statement that describes your interest in the REU position, academic goals and any previous research experience.
  • Apply to Dr. Brian Roberts with "2016 REU application" in the subject line. Contact Jennifer "Murt" Conover with questions. 
Geochemical and Environmental Research Group (GERG) and Department of Oceanography at Texas A&M University
GERG has announced a new REU program focused on "Observing the Ocean: hypoxia, harmful algae, oil spills and ocean acidification." Ten students will be introduced to new ocean observing technologies and will use data from ocean observatories, buoys and time series to investigate the ocean. Students will work with faculty and staff mentors in laboratories and on seagoing projects to acquire the analytical skills for multidisciplinary oceanographic research.
Gulf Research Program
The Gulf Research Program is committed to the long-term task of capacity building in the Gulf and other coastal regions, including the development of future generations of scientists, engineers, and health professionals prepared to work at the intersections of oil system safety, human health and wellbeing, and environmental resources.
Two fellowship opportunities from the Gulf Research Program seek to enhance the breadth and leadership capacity of early career science, engineering and health professionals.
Early-Career Research Fellowships recognize professionals at the critical pre-tenure phase of their careers for exceptional leadership, past performance and potential for future contributions to improving oil system safety, human health and well being, or environmental protection. These two-year fellowships will be awarded to tenure-track faculty (or equivalent) at colleges, universities and research institutions. Up to 10 Fellows will be selected in 2016.
  • Deadline: 11:59 p.m. ET, Feb. 17, 2016
  • Details 
Sea Grant Fellowships
Sea Grant offices from Texas, Mississippi Alabama, Louisiana and Florida are accepting applications for marine-related fellowship opportunities with fast-approaching deadlines. Each Sea Grant program office works with candidates on the application process and is seeking graduate students for four marine-related fellowship opportunities: coastal management, Fisheries Service (2) and John A. Knauss Marine Policy Fellowship.
Deadlines are approaching at the end of January and in early February.
Funding & Related Opportunities
NFWF Deadline
Deadlines for proposals to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation's Gulf Coast Conservation Grants Program are fast approaching. The Program supports priority Gulf conservation needs not otherwise expected to be funded under the Gulf Environmental Benefit Fund or other DWH funding opportunities. Priorities are to support critical gaps in Gulf Coast conservation and catalyze conservation solutions through innovation and technology.
NAS Gulf Research Program 2016 Exploratory Grants Application Process Opens
The Gulf Research Program's Exploratory Grants seek to stimulate innovation by supporting research projects that develop and apply new approaches, technologies and methods and/or apply new expertise through the engagement of novel, non-traditional disciplinary or cross-sectoral perspectives. Applications are being accepted for innovative research projects that seek to break new ground on:
  • Scenario Planning to Advance Safety Culture and Minimize Risk in Offshore Oil and Gas Operations;
  • Informing Coastal Community Planning and Response to Environmental Change in Regions with Offshore Oil and Gas Operations.
Anticipated total funding is $4 million with an estimated 13-20 projects to be selected.
  • Deadline for Letters of Intent: 5 p.m. ET, Feb. 17, 2016
  • Details

Events & Meetings
Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill and Ecosystem Science Conference, February 1-4, 2016, Tampa, FL

GCOOS-RA Board & Members Meeting, March 30 - April 1, 2016, New Orleans, LA

Other Gulf-Related Events

Have a meeting announcement? Please email details to Laura Caldwell at GCOOS.


Your input, guidance, support and membership are important to the development of data, products and services that you need. Contact the  GCOOS Business Office to become a GCOOS member and for more information. We welcome your feedback and ideas for relevant news items. Please email your feedback and ideas to Laura Caldwell.