GCOOS News & Updates for December 2014

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 Regional News 


Happy Holidays from GCOOS

With sincere appreciation for your commitment to all who live, work, and play in the Gulf of Mexico, the GCOOS-RA wishes you and yours a joyous holiday season and a New Year filled with peace, health, and happiness.  We are thankful for all you do and look forward to continued collaborations in the coming year.

Visit the New GCOOS Facebook Page

     Check out our new GCOOS Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/GCOOS . "Like" the page and receive brief news, updates, videos, images, and more on the Gulf of Mexico. Join the GCOOS 12 Days Until Christmas Countdown in progress! Comments welcome.   


GCOOS Invasive Species Lesson Available

     The GCOOS-RA Outreach and Education Coordinator, Dr. Chris Simoniello, has developed a lesson plan on invasive species in the Gulf of Mexico and Florida for Grades 1-3. The lesson plan highlights the GCOOS-RA product, the animation of lionfish distribution the Gulf, developed by Dr. Shin Kobara, Texas A&M University, and Dr. Jorge Brenner, The Nature Conservancy. Get the plan at http://gcoos.tamu.edu/documents/Lesson-Plans/Invasive-Species-March2014-Simoniello.pdf




New Report Details Mississippi's Blue Economy and Maritime Business Cluster Development

     The new GCOOS-RA members' report is the first to document the impact of oceans, seas, harbors, ports and coastal zones on Mississippi's economy. The report shows that maritime - or "blue" - industries dominate Mississippi's economy and that the state's three coastal counties support at least 35 percent of its entire workforce through the blue economy. The study, "Mississippi's Blue Economy: An Analysis of Mississippi's Maritime Industry" also outlined a series of recommendations that should be implemented to further support and grow Mississippi's economy.

     The study, undertaken as a capstone project of the Masters of Economic Development Program at the University of Southern Mississippi, was conducted by Ashley Edwards, Executive Director of the Hancock County Port and Harbor Commission, Susan M. Veglia, the Commission's Community Development Director, and USM student Kevin Buckley.

Read more at http://gcoos.tamu.edu/?p=8598.



Joint Industry Program Provides Scientific Information and Funding on Sound and Marine Life

   The Exploration and Production (E&P) Sound and Marine Life Joint Industry Program (Sound and Marine Life JIP) is an international consortium built of geophysical and oil and gas operators. The JIP was established in 2005 under the auspices of the International Association of Oil and Gas Producers (IOGP) to identify and conduct a research program that improves the global understanding of the potential impact of E&P sound on marine life.

    The Sound and Marine Life JIP (http://www.soundandmarinelife.org) supports and disseminates research to help increase the understanding of the effect of sound on marine life generated by oil and gas exploration and production activity. The members involved firmly believe that effective policy must stem from good, independent science. Increased understanding of the effect of sound generated by exploration and productivity activity on marine life helps governments make regulatory decisions based on sound science and the industry develop effective mitigation strategies. The JIP is one mechanism to do support this much-needed science. The research sponsored by the Sound and Marine Life JIP covers an international and broad range of oil and gas activity and sound impacts on marine mammals, sea turtles, and fisheries.

     Quick facts about the Sound and Marine Life JIP include: started in 2005, $31 million in research funded, Phase 3 started in 2014 with $18 million dedicated, 70 contracts provided for research studies or support activities, and 13 industry partners engaged. Read more at http://gcoos.tamu.edu/?p=8640.


RESTORE Council Announces Draft Funded Priorities List

     Approximately $150-$180 million is currently available to implement ecosystem restoration under the Council-Selected Restoration Component (commonly known as Bucket 2), guided by a Comprehensive Plan. In July 2014, the Council finalized a proposal submission and evaluation process to select projects for inclusion on a Draft Funded Priorities List (FPL). Read more about the process and download fact sheets.

     Each state and federal member of the Council was responsible for proposing restoration projects and programs for consideration by the Council as a whole. Questions regarding specific proposals can be directed to the proposing Council member. The Council is not accepting formal public comments regarding proposals under consideration. The Council will solicit formal public comment when the draft FPL is published.

     All of the proposals submitted by Council members can be downloaded by clicking on the links per state on the website at http://www.restorethegulf.gov/ourwork/council-selected-restoration/fpl-development. While the posted proposals have been reviewed for general eligibility (completed review form is attached to proposal), the evaluation process is currently underway. Once evaluation and vetting activities are complete, the website will be updated to include the results of the evaluation.


The National Academy of Sciences Gulf Research Program Announces New Advisory Group Members

     The NAS Gulf Research Program has announced its new Advisory Board members, including four GCOOS-RA members: Dr. Sara Graves (University of Alabama at Huntsville and GCOOS Board member), Dr. Monty Graham (University of Southern Mississippi), Dr. LaDon Swann (MS-AL Sea Grant) and Dr. Tony Knap (Texas A&M University). Congratulations to all and a special thanks to those GCOOS-RA members that served on the original Advisory Group!

     From the NAS Gulf Research Program: "Dear Colleagues, we are pleased to announce the membership of the Gulf Research Program's new Advisory Board, whose members will guide implementation of the Program's strategic vision and develop activities that align with the Program's mission and objectives. Chaired by Dr. Thomas Hunter, a member of the Program's original Advisory Group, the Advisory Board includes members with deep expertise in oil system safety, health, and science. A list of members and their biographies is available at http://www.nas.edu/gulf/bios/index.html . We look forward to their leadership. We extend sincere thanks to our outgoing Advisory Group members for their extraordinary service during the initial phase. Under Dr. Barbara Schaal's guidance, the Advisory Group developed a strategic vision that established the Program's foundation and identified opportunities to contribute lasting benefit to the Gulf nation."

     For more information on the Board, strategic plan and more, visit http://www.nas.edu/gulf/index.html.


Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative (GOMRI) Awards $140 Million to Support Research: 12 Consortia to Study Oil Impacts on Gulf of Mexico

The GCOOS-RA congratulates all awardees with a special congrats to GCOOS-RA members who were awarded GOMRI funding.

Research consortia selected for GOMRI funding are:

  • Nova Southeastern University, "Deep-Pelagic Nekton Dynamics of the Gulf of Mexico," Lead Investigator Tracey Sutton
  • University of Miami - Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, "Relationship of Effects of Cardiac Outcomes in Fish for Validation of Ecological Risk," Lead Investigator Martin Grosell
  • University of Texas at Austin, "Dispersion Research on Oil: Physics and Plankton Studies," Lead Investigator Edward Buskey
  • University of Southern Mississippi, "Consortium for Oil Spill Exposure Pathways in Coastal River-Dominated Ecosystems," Lead Investigator William (Monty) Graham
  • University of Louisiana at Lafayette, "Littoral Acoustic Demonstration Center," Lead Investigator Natalia Sidorovskaia
  • Marine Environmental Sciences Consortium/Dauphin Island Sea Lab, "Alabama Center for Ecological Resilience," Lead Investigator John Valentine
  • Texas A&M University, "Role of Microbial Exopolymers in Aggregation and Degradation of Oil and Dispersants," Lead Investigator Antonietta Quigg
  • Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium, "Coastal Waters Consortium," Lead Investigator Nancy Rabalais
  • University of Miami, "The Consortium for Advanced Research on Transport of Hydrocarbon in the Environment II," Lead Investigator Tamay �zg�kmen
  • RAND Corporation Gulf States Policy Institute, "Consortium for Resilient Gulf Communities," Lead Investigator Melissa Finucane
  • The University of Georgia, "Ecosystem Impacts of Oil and Gas Inputs to the Gulf - 2," Lead Investigator Samantha Joye
  • University of South Florida, "The Center for the Integrated Modeling and Analysis of Gulf Ecosystems II," Lead Investigator Steven Murawski

GoMRI is a ten-year research initiative established in 2010 and funded by a $500 million commitment by BP. GoMRI is administered by an independent Research Board, which consists of 20 experts in science, research administration, and public health. The Research Board evaluates research proposals following merit review guidelines of the National Academies of Science and procedures similar to those of the U.S. National Science Foundation. All funding decisions are made by the Research Board, which is independent of BP and not connected to the Natural Resources Damage Assessment process." Read more at http://gulfresearchinitiative.org/gulf-mexico-research-initiative-awards-140-million-support-research/ 


NFWF Announces Nearly $100 Million in Funding for Restoration Projects on the Gulf Coast

     The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) recently announced the award of more than $99.2 million from its Gulf Environmental Benefit Fund (Gulf Fund) to 25 projects in the states of Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. The projects, developed in consultation with state and federal resource agencies, are designed to remedy harm and reduce the risk of future harm to natural resources that were affected by the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

     This announcement represents the second obligation of funds available to support projects in each state from the payments received thus far by the Gulf Fund. To date, the Fund has received $511 million dollars, and has obligated $390 million, or more than 75 percent of available dollars. Read more, including the listing of projects by State, at:



Environmental Law Institute (ELI) Tracks Status of Restoration Processes in the Gulf of Mexico

     In an effort to provide a snapshot of the current state of regional restoration and recovery in the Gulf, ELI has created a new webpage, "Where Are We Now?" to track the three main regional processes: (1) Natural Resource Damage Assessment; (2) RESTORE Act; and (3) National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. This webpage provides a general overview of each process, its current status, and recent developments. In addition, ELI updated the Gulf of Mexico Restoration Projects Database to include recently announced projects. On 17 November 2014, NFWF announced the awarding of nearly $100 million to 25 projects across the five Gulf States. Explore the searchable database to see details about each of these projects, including project description, cost, and resources benefitted. See "Where are we now?" at http://eli-ocean.org/gulf/updates/ and the searchable database at http://eli-ocean.org/gulf/restoration-projects-database/.


Gulf of Mexico Alliance Restoration Project Tracker Update (from GOMA November 2014 newsletter)

     The Deepwater Horizon Project Tracker development team is making excellent progress. To date, the look and functionality of the site has been drafted, customizable search criteria have been researched and are being used to incorporate available project information.

     The site will be unique because it will have user-friendly summary features. These will provide big picture overviews in conjunction with comprehensive lists of individual projects inclusive to all settlement funding sources. Partners anticipate a beta version of the site will be available for viewing in early 2015. A summary of the new web tool can be downloaded from the Gulf of Mexico Alliance restoration web page at http://www.gulfofmexicoalliance.org/learn-more/gulf-restoration/.


Congratulations to the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation on Their Renovated Nature Center

     The GCOOS-RA congratulates partners Eric Milbrandt and AJ Martignette of the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation (SCCF) for their recent launch of the renovated SCCF nature center. The newly updated public outreach facility includes a water quality exhibit featuring the GCOOS Eco Hero interactive game and information from the center's River, Estuary and Coastal Observing Network (RECON), a data node in the GCOOS network. Based at Tarpon Bay in Sanibel, FL, the SCCF Marine Laboratory is adjacent to the Pine Island Sound Aquatic Preserve and is located within the J.N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge. The focus of the non-profit organization's research is to determine the influences of variable freshwater inflow and human impacts on estuarine and coastal ecosystems. The SCCF Marine Lab, funded through private donations, and local, state and federal granting agencies, provides a valuable living library and outdoor laboratories for researchers, students, and the general public, including many seasonal residents and visitors to the area.  


EPA Gulf of Mexico Program Announces Proposal Awards (from GOMA November newsletter)

     The EPA Gulf of Mexico Program (GMP) has announced the results of its 2013 proposal process. In recent years, the GMP has aligned a number of its priorities with those of the region, including the Gulf of Mexico Alliance. This collaborative, regional association has helped organizations achieve their shared goals. The following programs will be implemented in 2015 as a result of funding from the EPA GMP - Congratulations to the GCOOS-RA Members Awarded!

  • Brownsville Public Utilities Board Receives $300,000 for Conservation of Habitats
  • Florida Aquarium Receives over $161,000 to Expand Environmental Literacy
  • Houston-Galveston Area Council Receives $135,000 for Smart Growth
  • Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium Receives $88,474 to Reduce the Gulf Hypoxic Zone
  • University of Mississippi Receives Over $250,000 to Promote Resilient Communities
  • Texas A&M University Receives Over $198,000 to Build Artificial Reef Habitats
  • Weeks Bay Foundation, Inc. Receives $270,566 to Increase Awareness and Action on Gulf Issues

IOOS/National/Legislative News 

Legislative Update from the IOOS Association

     IOOS was funded at $29.5 m in the budget bill passed recently.   This is $1 million over last year's appropriation of $28.5 million.  This additional money was part of the President's request for additional funding for the sensor innovation grant program. NOAA's Ocean Acidification program got an increase of $2.5 million. Coastal Zone Management grants got an increase of $5 million for the regional resiliency grants. Sea Grant took a cut of $4.5 million, as they had a one time bump last year. NMFS Habitat got a $5 million increase for resiliency grants (part of Senate bill).  


New Version of Environmental Response Management Application (ERMA) Launched Fall 2014

     This fall, NOAA launched an updated version of ERMA that improves the performance of the application. Users now have a single log in for all regional sites where they have accounts and will notice changes to bookmarked data layers. If you are an ERMA user, be aware there are now new security standards which require you to log in to ERMA once every six months to avoid disabling of your account, lock-out issues after three failed log-in attempts, and password resetting every 90 days. For assistance with any of these issues, email orr.ermaaccounts@noaa.gov and an ERMA Specialist will assist you. The URLs of ERMA layers changed with this update. If you currently use URL bookmarks to view sets of layers (meaning you copied the URL for a particular layer view, and use it to get back to a set of layers), these have changed and any bookmarks will need to be updated. For more information, see http://response.restoration.noaa.gov/maps-and-spatial-data/environmental-response-management-application-erma 


Earth Observations Benefit Nations (from 28 November 2014 Z-Gram)

     The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy blog on GEO can be found here: http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2014/11/17/earth-observations-benefit-nations.  Other key links: USGEO exhibit storymap: http://www.ioos.noaa.gov/understanding_earth/index.html. Video interview with Dr. Kathryn Sullivan (NOAA): http://youtu.be/idE9Xma-C6Y


Marine Bio Diversity (MBON) (from 28 November 2014 Z-Gram)

     All-project Marine BON kick-off meeting very successful.  Data management coordination is beginning at the initiative of the projects, with an all-BON data management meeting already scheduled.  Gabrielle will help coordinate an all-BON outreach and education meeting - including Sanctuaries - to strengthen representation of BON at conferences and in the literature.  Flower Garden Banks is now an official partner of the MBON-Sanctuaries led by Frank Muller-Karger.  This is being done with existing funds for now, leveraging significant investments by BOEM and NOAA in the area - CONGRATS.  Well done to Gabrielle Canonico (NOAA and US IOOS); Woody Turner (NASA); and Jim Price (BOEM) for an outstanding session. 


NASA Shuttle Radar Topographic Mission (SRTM) Global 1 arc second Data Released over Europe, North America and South America (from 28 November 2014 Z-Gram)

     The data is available for free download here. These data can be used to address with more precision critical issues impacted by the Earth's topography, e.g. natural processes influenced by water flow including fresh water supply; extreme events such as heavy rainfall, river plain flooding, and coastal storm surges; agricultural stresses; and public health challenges.  

Funding Opportunities 

Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority - Applied Research and Coastal Innovation Program Grants - Request for Proposal submissions are due on 6 February 2015.



Coastal Innovation Partnership Program Pre-applications are due on 5 January 2015.



NAS Gulf Research Program Funding - Grant Applications Open 18 December 2014.

Proposals: http://www.nas.edu/gulf/grants/index.html

Fellowships: http://www.nas.edu/gulf/fellowships/index.html


The Christine Mirzayan Science & Technology Policy Graduate Fellowship Program


Marine Debris Prevention through Education and Outreach Federal Funding Opportunity - Deadline 15 January 2015



Job Opportunities  

NAS Gulf Research Program Job Opportunities, Postdoctoral Fellow in Informatics Science


Current Events and Meetings 



"95th Annual American Meteorological Society Meeting", 4-8 January 2015, Phoenix, Arizona



"Florida Gulf Consortium RESTORE Meeting", 21 January 2015, Tallahassee, FL 




"Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill & Ecosystem Science Conference", 16-19 February 2015, Westin Galleria Hotel, Houston, TX. 


"GCOOS-RA Board of Directors and Members Meeting", 11-13 March 2015. Pavillion Hotel, New Orleans, LA.


 "2015 Southeast Coastal Ocean Observing Regional Association Annual Meeting", 19-20 May 2015, Jacksonville, FL

 Updates will be available


"GOMA All-Hands Meeting", 16-18 June 2014  More information when available.

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. Your input, guidance, support, and membership are important to the development of the data, products and services that you need. Contact the  GCOOS Business Office  (info@gcoos.org), 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 (lsura.caldwell@gcoos.org). 
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