GCOOS News & Updates for August 2015

Greetings from GCOOS

In addition to the news items below, please visit our Website, http://gcoos.org, our real-time Data Portal, http://data.gcoos.org and Products page, http://gcoos.org/products/ for more information, data and products information.


Gulf of Mexico Coastal Ocean Observing System News 

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     At GCOOS, we want to make sure we're providing you with the news and information you find most helpful in our monthly enewsletter. Please take our survey and let us know how we're doing and if there's anything we can do better to help provide you with the information you need.
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GCOOS-RA Executive Director Dr. Barbara Kirkpatrick and 9-year-old Cory Diaz at the Gulf Guardian awards ceremony.
St. Petersburg, FL, Girl Wins Gulf Guardian Award for Project to Raise Money to Tag Marine Animals
     A Bay Point Elementary School student working to raise money to buy acoustic tags for marine animals was named a "Gulf Guardian" during a special EPA awards ceremony in Corpus Christi recently.
Nine-year-old Cory Diaz learned about a new effort to place an array of acoustic receivers in the Gulf of Mexico from her mom, Dr. Chris Simoniello, Director of Outreach and Education for the Gulf of Mexico Coastal Ocean Observing System Regional Association (GCOOS-RA). So she decided to raise money for animal tags for her school community service project. She created the uTAG for iTAG campaign through CrowdRise, an online fundraising site.
Her goal is to raise $20,000."I started this project to put the 'U' and 'me' in iTAG!" Cory said. "I hope very much that other kids get inspired by my work, just like I was inspired when my mom took me to a (previous) Gulf Guardian ceremony and I saw the 'G is for Gulf' project done by other kids. It is important to know that we can all help protect the Gulf."
"Cory truly exemplifies what it means to be a Gulf Guardian," Kirkpatrick said. "We can all do our part to help protect the Gulf of Mexico -- no matter what age we are."
Donate to the Project  at https://www.crowdrise.com/utagforitag

Data source: Nancy N. Rabalais, LUMCON, and R. Eugene Turner, LSU. Funding source: NOAA Center for Sponsored Coastal Ocean Research and U.S. EPA Gulf of Mexico Program.
2015 'Dead Zone' Bigger Than Expected
     Thanks to above-average discharge from the Mississippi River in June and July that sent more freshwater and nutrients from the River basin than usual, the annual hypoxic zone in the Gulf of Mexico is larger than expected, according to Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium.
     This year's Dead Zone is the size of Connecticut and Rhode combined, and is the 11th largest in size since the area has been mapped beginning in 1985. It is 28 percent larger than the 2014 dead zone.
     The average size for the last five years, including this year, is 14,024 square kilometers (= 5,543 square miles) and is three times larger than the environmental target (5,000 square kilometers; 1,991 square miles) approved by a federal/state task force in 2001 and maintained by the same task force in 2008. The 30-year average (less 1989) is 13,752 square kilometers (5,312 square miles.) Read the full press release at http://gcoos.tamu.edu/?p=9430

Report 2014-2016 Coral Bleaching to NOAA
     Global-scale bleaching events have occurred frequently in recent years. More and more coral reef areas have experienced severe bleaching, sometimes in back-to-back events. In 2014, the new CRW 5-km satellite coral bleaching thermal stress product suite was released. These new satellite products offer higher spatial (5 km) and temporal (daily) resolutions, and include sea surface temperature (SST), SST Anomaly, Coral Bleaching HotSpot, Degree Heating Week, and a 7-Day Maximum Bleaching Alert Area. NOAA Coral Reef Watch (CRW) is undertaking an effort to determine the severity and distribution of recent coral bleaching and mortality, and compare these with satellite measurements of bleaching thermal stress.
Full Details and Survey Forms  are at http://coralreefwatch.noaa.gov/satellite/research/coral_bleaching_report.php.
Credit: NOAA's Coral Reef Conservation Program

Registration Open for 2016 Oil Spill Conference; Abstract Submission Open
     The 2016 Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill and Ecosystem Science Conference will take place from 1-4 February 2016, at the Marriott Tampa Waterside in Tampa, Fla. The 2016 conference theme, "One Gulf: healthy ecosystems, healthy communities," will focus on opportunities to promote and sustain a healthy Gulf environment, communities, and economy, including new discoveries, innovations, technologies and policies.
     Conference organizers are now accepting abstracts with deadline for submittal on 18 September 2015.
Here are Session Details and the the site for abstract submittals
Ocean Sciences Meeting: Ocean Observing and Data Management Session
     An Ocean Observing and Data Management Session has been scheduled during the 2016 Ocean Sciences Meeting from 21-26 February in New Orleans. Session Title: Evolving Biologically-Enabled Ocean Observing Systems: Integrating Biological Observations with Physicochemical Measurements for Informed Ecosystem-Based Decision Making. Abstract submission  opened on 20 July at http://osm.agu.org/2016/abstract-submissions/.
The deadline for submissions is Wednesday, 23 September 2015 (23:59 EDT/03:59+1 GMT).
Researchers Study Currents that Fuel Hurricanes and Transport Pollutants to Coastal Beaches
A recently published study showed how a downwelling of warm waters deepened tropical storm Isaac's fuel tank for a rapid intensification toward hurricane status in 2012. The results also revealed how hurricane-generated currents and ocean eddies can transport oil and other pollutants to coastal regions. The study, "Enhanced Wind-Driven Downwelling Flow in Warm Oceanic Eddy Features during the Intensification of Tropical Cyclone Isaac (2012): Observations and Theory," was published in the June 2015 issue of the Journal of Physical Oceanography. Co-authors include: Benjamin Jaimes and Lynn "Nick" Shay of the UM Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science's Department of Ocean Sciences. BP/Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative to the Deep-C consortium at Florida State University supported the research.

Gulf Restoration News 

Public Comment Period Open for Draft Initial Funded Priorities List
     The Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council (RESTORE Council) recently released its draft Initial Funded Priorities List, proposing to focus on 10 key watersheds across the Gulf. This effort is designed to concentrate and leverage funds to address critical ecosystem needs in high priority locations.  The Council also proposes a suite of Gulf-wide investments designed to support holistic ecosystem restoration and lay the foundation for future success.
There are 45 project proposed, representing components of those submitted by state and federal Council members. Key components of the Gulf-wide FPL focus on:
  • Restoring and Conserving Habitat by focusing on projects that restore and enhance the health, diversity, and resilience of key marsh habitat and other coastal, estuarine, and marine habitats;
  • Restoring valuable wetlands by backfilling 16.5 miles of abandoned oil and gas canals;  
  • Conserving approximately 8,400 acres of high value coastal habitat;
  • Protecting existing coastal ecosystems by plugging 11 abandoned oil and gas wells;
  • Improving water quality by working with private land owners to eliminate the use of approximately 160,000 pounds of fertilizer and by funding activities that will result in water pollutant load reductions of approximately 60,000 pounds;
  • Advancing comprehensive restoration by funding a range of water quality and/or habitat restoration planning efforts in 10 key watersheds and estuaries;
  • Investing in Gulf-wide science, coordination, and planning programs.
The public comment period is open now through 28 September and the Council has also scheduled a series of public meetings throughout the Gulf states to gather.
     It's important for GCOOS members to note that despite the various funding sources resulting from the Deepwater Horizon disaster and subsequent proposed settlements, no new observations have been added to the Gulf of Mexico. That means if another spill happened today, we would not have any improved resources to track its location and movement. That's why GCOOS is working hard to help Gulf of Mexico decision makers understand and support the need for ocean observations by dedicating some of the funds to observation platforms and support for ongoing operations. Please consider this when making your comments about these proposed projects.  
Public meeting schedule:
  • 6 p.m. CST 20 August 2015 Texas A&M University, Corpus Christi, TX 48412
  • 6 p.m. EST 26 August 2015 FWC Fish & Wildlife Research Institute, St. Petersburg, FL 33701
  • 6 p.m. CST 27 August 2015 Gulf Coast State College, Panama City, FL 32401
  • 6 p.m. CST 1 September 2015 Battle House Renaissance, Mobile, AL 36602
  • 5 p.m. CST 10 September 2015 Coast Coliseum & Convention Center, Biloxi, MS 39531
  • 5:30 p.m. CST 15 September 2015 Homer L. Hitt Alumni Center, New Orleans, LA 70148
  • 5:30 p.m. CST 16 September 2015 Morgan City Municipal Auditorium, Morgan City, LA 70380
Restoration Resources
DWH Projects
Deepwater Horizon Project Tracker: http://www.dwhprojecttracker.org/
Florida: Department of Environmental Protection  http://www.dep.state.fl.us/deepwaterhorizon/ or Gulf Consortium website at http://www.fl-counties.com/advocacy/gulf-consortium. See the Florida DEP presentation on the next National Fish and Wildlife Foundation's Gulf Environmental Benefit Fund cycle at http://www.dep.state.fl.us/deepwaterhorizon/files2/nfwf/nfwf_public_webinar_march2015.pdf.
Alabama: Information & project submissions: http://www.alabamacoastalrestoration.org/.
Louisiana: Has approved the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority (CPRA) Fiscal Year 2016 Annual Plan, providing $884 million in expenditures for coastal protection and restoration projects in fiscal year 2016. Online at http://us9.campaign-archive1.com/?u=3d6138b29e4223c069af96595&id=f35916e780&e=dba642d0ee.
Texas: Info & project submission https://www.restorethetexascoast.org/.

Employment Opportunities 

Gulf Research Program
     The Gulf Research Program is seeking a program officer and an association program officer. Work with a small, top-notch team to design and implement funding opportunities and contribute to program outreach, strategic planning, design of award and evaluation processes, and other program functions intended to provide lasting benefits to the Gulf region and the nation.

     NOAA is seeking a director for the Office for Coastal Management. The office is responsible for coastal management programs that provide information products and services to support national needs arising from increasing uses of oceans and estuaries.
Christine Mirzayan Fellowship in Science and Technology
     The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine are now accepting applications for the 2016 session of the Christine Mirzayan Science & Technology Policy Graduate Fellowship Program. This 12-week program (19 January - 9 April 2016) is designed to engage early career individuals in the processes that inform U.S. science and technology policy. Fellows obtain essential skills and knowledge needed to work in science and technology policy at the federal, state, or local levels.
     The Gulf Research Program will host a Christine Mirzayan fellow during the 2016 session. This fellow will join a cohort of about two dozen other fellows learning about the role of science in the federal government while working directly with Gulf Research Program staff and our Advisory Board.
Deadline to apply is 9 September.
Other Opportunities

Funding Opportunities 

Water Quality
     The EPA's Gulf of Mexico Program has a call out for proposals that address water quality improvements, coastal habitat and ecosystem enhancements, restoration and/or protection, environmental education and outreach and strengthening community resilience in the Gulf of Mexico region and its watersheds. EPA expects to fund 15 cooperative agreements worth $3.5 million. Proposals are due before 5 p.m. 15 September.

Current Events and Meetings 

Oceans in Action 2015, 20 August 2015, Stennis Space Center, MS

ESCA55: Unbounded boundaries and shifting baselines, estuaries and coastal seas in a rapidly changing world, 6-9 September 2015, London, UK
Click for details.

Florida Roundtable on Ocean Acidification:  Ocean Conservancy and Mote Marine Laboratory are hosting a roundtable discussion on ocean acidification to develop stronger linkages among Florida scientists, policymakers, natural resource managers, NGOs and industry groups. Sept. 2, Sarasota, Fla. Contact Sage Melcer for details and registration: smelcer@oceanconservancy.org
GCOOS-RA Board of Directors Meeting, 17 September 2015, St. Petersburg, FL
Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council Meeting, 5-9 October 2015, Hilton Galveston Island, Gaveston, TX
MTS/IEEE Oceans '15, 19-22 October 2015, Washington, D.C.

Tri-International Initiative for Marine Research and Conservation in the Gulf of Mexico and Western Caribbean Conference, 12-14 November 2015, Havana, Cuba.

10th Biannual International Marine and Coastal  Science Conference, 16-20 November 2015, Havana, Cuba.

2016 Ocean Science Meeting,  21-26 February 2016, New Orleans, LA

For other events around the Gulf, please see: http://www.gulfofmexicoalliance.org/announcements/events/.