GCOOS News & Updates for February 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 

 

Happy 10th Anniversary GCOOS-RA!

      2015 has started off as an exciting year as the GCOOS-RA continues celebration of its 10th Anniversary.

The GCOOS-RA has established a Facebook page to keep you current on information about the Gulf of Mexico and the GCOOS-RA. The page includes news, funding opportunities, images, video, and more! "Like" us at https://www.facebook.com/GCOOS . 

 

GCOOS-RA still Accepting Nominations for Board of Directors

     It's not too late! The GCOOS-RA will be accepting nominations for the Board of Directors until 5 p.m. CST on Wednesday, 18 February 2015. In August, the terms of five board members will expire. The responsibilities of the 17-member board include: Setting policy for the organization and guiding the executive director; revising corporate bylaws and other documents as necessary; establishing and maintaining the structure of the Regional Association, including approvals of appointments to councils, committees, task teams and other groups; approving budgets and the business model; approving proposals; and approving endorsements requested by GCOOS-RA members for their proposals. Board terms are for three years and begin with the summer/autumn meeting. Nominations, including self-nominations, should include a short biography, indicate the member organization and its sector (government, academic, industry, education/outreach). Nominations should be emailed to both Alyssa Dausman, [email protected], Chair of the GCOOS-RA Membership Committee, and Susan Martin, [email protected].  

 

GCOOS-RA Board: Then and Now

     The first GCOOS-RA Board meeting was held 25 August 2005, in Houston, TX. In attendance were 10 of the 12 newly elected Board members, representing government (Buzz Martin, Texas General Land Office), the private sector (Cort Cooper, Chevron Texaco, Ray Toll, SAIC, Jan van Smirren, Fugro GEOS), academia (Mark Luther, University of South Florida, Worth Nowlin, Texas A&M University, Nancy Rabalais, Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium, Don Roman, University of Southern Mississippi), and education and outreach (Mike Spranger, University of Florida, Sharon Walker, USM). Alfredo Prelat (NEOS GeoSolutions) and Chris Oynes (U.S. Minerals Management Service) rounded out the membership. Ten years later, the GCOOS-RA is thankful for the enduring services of four Board members who have stayed the course: Nowlin, Rabalis, Spranger, and van Smirren continue to be leaders in the ocean monitoring and observing system enterprise in the Gulf of Mexico. Since 2005, the Board of Directors has expanded to 17 members. Currently, five members from BP America, Inc., Continental Shelf Associates, Fugro GEOS, LMI and Vencore Services and Solutions, Inc., represent the private sector; five members from the Alabama Public Health Laboratory, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Naval Research Laboratory, TGLO and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers represent the Government sector; three members from LUMCON, TAMU and USM represent academia; and four members from Chora Creative LLC, NOAA NDBC, University of Alabama-Huntsville, and UF represent outreach and education.    


Gulf of Mexico NERRS Programs Awarded BWET Grant

   Five National Estuarine Research Reserve Systems in the Gulf (Mission-Aransas, TX; Grand Bay, MS; Weeks Bay, AL; Apalachicola, FL; and Rookery Bay, FL) received a NOAA Bay Watershed Education and Training (B-WET) grant to conduct "TEACHERS ON THE ESTUARY" workshops at each reserve. A central thread of each workshop will be highlighting research and the System Wide Monitoring Program (SWMP) at each Reserve. The SWMP program uses sondes to collect both water quality and weather data which scientists use to help assess the health of coastal watersheds. These data are part of the GCOOS system. There is a SWMP data graphing tool on the estuaries.noaa.gov website which allows teachers and students to easily access and graph data from any of the 28 NERRS. Also available on the website is the Estuaries 101 MS curriculum, with several classroom activities that incorporate SWMP data. NERRS serve as "living classrooms" for educators, students and the general public, taking a local approach in advancing estuary literacy and generating meaningful experiences for people interested in learning about, protecting, and restoring estuaries. The GCOOS-RA congratulates Outreach and Education Council member Margaret Sedlecky, Weeks Bay NERR Education Coordinator, and colleagues Carolyn Rose, Mission-Aransas, Jennifer Buchanan, Grand Bay, Jeff Dutow, Apalachicola, and Sarah Falkowski, Rookery Bay, for receiving this award.

 

From left to right: Dr. Kumaran,  Dr. David Mathews, President of the Kettering Foundation  and Dr. Spranger. 
GCOOS Board Member Selected to Serve as 2015 Cohort with the Kettering Foundation
     The GCOOS-RA congratulates Dr. Mike Spranger, and his colleague, Dr. Muthusami Kumaran, both University of Florida faculty members, for their recent selection to serve as 2015 cohorts with the Kettering Foundation. The Kettering Foundation is a nonprofit operating foundation rooted in the American tradition of cooperative research. Kettering's primary research question is, what does it take to make democracy work as it should? Kettering's research is distinctive because it is conducted from the perspective of citizens and focuses on what people can do collectively to address problems affecting their lives, their communities, and their nation. The foundation seeks to identify and address the challenges to making democracy work as it should through interrelated program areas that focus on: responsible citizens who can make sound choices about their future; communities of citizens acting together to address common problems; and institutions with public legitimacy that contribute to strengthening society. As a long-time GCOOS Board Member representing the Outreach and Education sector, Spranger brings a wealth of experience to the Kettering Foundation. In this 18 month assignment, Dr. Spranger and Dr. Kumaran  will be exploring the concept of  Centers for Public Life for the University of Florida and how  this civic engagement approach can be applied to  strengthen Florida's communities.

Progress in Oceanography Paper Highlights Offshore Gulf Oceanographic Conditions

      Dr. Frank Muller-Karger and co-authors Joseph Smith, Sandra Werner, Robert Chen, Mitchell Roffer, Barbara Muhling, David Lindo-Atichati, John Lamkin, Sergio Cerdeira-Estrada, and David Enfield have published the article "Natural Variability of Surface Oceanographic Conditions in the Offshore Gulf of Mexico" in Progress in Oceanography (10.1016/j.pocean.2014.12.007). The work characterizes variability and trends in central Gulf of Mexico surface waters. Highlights include the following results: 1) Sea surface temperature and wind speed increased gradually from the 1980s to 2012; 2) Chl-a and primary productivity show no significant trend from the 1980s to 2012; 3) the trends in SST and wind have opposing effects on mixed layer depth (MLD); and 4) the lack of a trend in MLD explains the lack of a trend in primary productivity. The article can be found at http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0079661114002171.

 

Texas One Gulf Center of Excellence

     Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) Commissioner Toby Baker announced the selection of two consortia to establish Centers of Excellence in Texas as part of the ongoing implementation of the federal RESTORE Act, which requires that the five Gulf States affected by the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill establish them for conducting research in the Gulf Coast region. The first selected consortium will be led by the University of Houston and will include Rice University, the NASA Johnson Space Center, Texas Southern University, Houston Community College, and Lone Star Community College. This consortium will study offshore energy development, including research and technology to improve the sustainable and safe development of energy resources in the Gulf of Mexico. The second consortium will be led by Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi and will include the Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies, the Center for Translational Environmental Health Research, Texas A&M University-College Station, Texas A& M University-Galveston, the University of Texas at Brownsville, Texas State University, the University of Houston Law Center, the Gulf of Mexico Coastal Ocean Observing System Regional Association, and the University of Texas Medical Branch-Galveston. This consortium involves many GCOOS-RA members and will focus study on sustainability, restoration, and protection of the coast and deltas; research and monitoring related to coastal fisheries and wildlife ecosystems in the Gulf Coast region; offshore energy development, including research and technology to improve the sustainable and safe development of energy resources in the Gulf of Mexico and its comprehensive observation, monitoring, and mapping of the gulf; and sustainable and resilient growth and economic and commercial development in the region. Read more at http://gcoos.tamu.edu/?p=8815.

 
The Florida Aquarium's Watershed Investigations Program introduces Hillsborough County students to scientific investigation, watersheds, climate change and pollution.
Photo copyright The Florida Aquarium.
New Public-Private Partnership Offers Hands-On Learning about Climate Change, Watersheds and Pollution for Hillsborough County Students

     Fifth-graders from 10 Title I schools in Hillsborough County, FL, are becoming citizen scientists through a new program designed to help increase their science literacy and give them an opportunity to learn more about freshwater, brackish and saltwater habitats by getting their hands dirty and feet wet. The program - Watershed Investigations - was developed and is being led by The Florida Aquarium and is funded through grants from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Program partners include Florida's Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), Tampa Electric Company (TECO), Hillsborough County Public Schools, Tampa Bay Estuary Program, Gulf of Mexico Alliance and the Gulf of Mexico Coastal Ocean Observing System Regional Association (GCOOS-RA), which will host the data that the students gather.

      One of the most important aspects of the program will be collecting the data that the students gather over time, said Dr. Chris Simoniello, Director of Outreach and Education for the GCOOS-RA. GCOOS provides a one-stop-shop online portal for environmental data gathered by scientists and citizen scientists from all Gulf of Mexico states so that it is broadly available for anyone who needs it. "We hope this will be a model for citizen science initiatives throughout the Gulf of Mexico," Simoniello said. "Gulf-wide, citizens' groups are gathering data about their regions and that's great. But if the data isn't widely available, it can't help when the unexpected happens. For instance, after an oil spill, resource managers must restore habitats that were damaged. But without good baseline information about what a particular habitat looked like before a disaster, it's impossible to do good, science-based restoration. Citizen science initiatives like The Florida Aquarium's Watershed Investigations program can go a long way to remedying that situation." For more on this go to http://gcoos.tamu.edu/?p=8869.

 

Educator Professional Development Opportunities

      GCOOS Outreach and Education Council member Tricia LeBlanc will be offering two NOAA professional development workshop opportunities for educators. The first, Why Do We Explore?, will take place 16 June 2015. The second, How Do We Explore?, will take place 17 June 2015. Both workshops will be hosted by the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas, New Orleans, Louisiana. The deadline to register is 26 May 2015. For more information, contact LeBlanc at  [email protected] or 504.378.2675.

Pictures, Please!
If you have stories or photos you would like to share as part of the GCOOS-RA 10th Anniversary celebrations, please send them to [email protected].

Gulf Restoration News 

Summits Hosted by the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality

     The Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality will be hosting a series of Resource Summits that are part of a $3.6 million planning grant awarded to the State from the Gulf Environmental Benefit Fund administered by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. The three-year project will develop a comprehensive plan for restoring and conserving Mississippi's coastal natural resources. Three priority resources previously identified during last fall's Community Conversations will be the focus of the meetings: 1) Land Conservation Summit, 24 February at the Ocean Springs Civic Center; 2) Living Resources Summit, 26 February at the Bay St. Louis Community Hall; and 3) Water Quality Summit, 28 February at the Handsboro Community Center. Please visit www.restore.ms  or contact Gary Rikard, [email protected] for more information.

 

Louisiana's Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority Hosted Public Meetings

     Louisiana's Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority (CPRA) released a draft of their Fiscal Year 2016 Annual Plan, Integrated Ecosystem Restoration and Hurricane Protection in Coastal Louisiana. The yearly report summarizes progress in implementing the State Master Plan and a look forward to what is planned for the coming fiscal year and the two that follow.  Three public meetings were held in New Orleans, Lake Charles and Houma to discuss and receive comments on the Draft FY 2016 Annual Plan. The CPRA report can be found at coastal.la.gov/draft-fy2016-annual-plan/. Public comments will be accepted until 18 March 2015 and can be sent via e-mail to [email protected].  

Gulf of Mexico Regional News 

Interior Department Announces Draft Strategy for Offshore Oil and Gas Leasing

     As part of President Obama's energy strategy, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) Director Abigail Ross Hopper announced the next step in the development of the nation's Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) Oil and Gas Leasing Program for 2017-2022. The Draft Proposed Program (DPP) includes 14 potential lease sales in eight planning areas - ten sales in the Gulf of Mexico, three off the coast of Alaska, and one in a portion of the Mid- and South Atlantic. Release of the draft is an early step in a multi-year process to develop a final offshore leasing program for 2017-2022. "The draft proposal prioritizes development in the Gulf of Mexico, which is rich in resources and has well-established infrastructure to support offshore oil and gas programs," added Jewell. BOEM currently manages about 6,000 active OCS leases, covering more than 32 million acres - the vast majority in the Gulf of Mexico. In 2013, OCS oil and gas leases accounted for about 18 percent of domestic oil production and 5 percent of domestic natural gas production. The draft proposal includes a new approach to lease sales in the Gulf of Mexico by proposing two annual lease sales in the Western, Central, and the portion of the Eastern Gulf of Mexico that is not subject to Congressional moratoria. This shifts from the traditional approach of one sale in the Western and a separate sale in the Central Gulf each year. For more information, including maps, please visit: http://www.boem.gov/Five-Year-Program/.

 

Gulf of Mexico Climate Outreach Community of Practice

     The Gulf of Mexico Climate Outreach Community of Practice has announced that its 6th Annual Meeting will be held 19-21 May 2015 in St. Pete Beach, Florida. The conference team is developing the agenda. The anticipated registration fee is $100 and online registration will be announced soon. The CoP meeting will be preceded by a Climate Education Workshop, 17-18 May at the Sirata Hotel. The workshop will offer professional development for informal and formal educators who wish to increase their climate science knowledge, learn about regional climate impacts, and share climate education resources. The workshop is being offered by the NOAA Climate Stewards Program in partnership with the Climate Community of Practice.

 

Gulf of Mexico Alliance Priority Issue Teams Reorganized

     The GOMA Alliance Management Team recently reorganized the priorities supported by the GOMA partnership. Some of the existing focus areas have been redistributed within the new team structure. If you would like to join one or more of the teams, please contact the PIT coordinator for the team of interest: Community Resilience, Kristen Holley,  [email protected] or Daphne Viverett, [email protected]; Data and Monitoring, Kayleigh Michaelides,  [email protected]; Education and Engagement, Lee Yokel, [email protected]; Water Resources, Ann Porter, [email protected]; Habitat, Jim Pahl, [email protected]; and Wildlife and Fisheries, Kathryn Gerard,  [email protected] or Allison Knight [email protected]. The Alliance plans to host a "Get to Know GOMA" webinar on 18 March 2015. For more information on the GOMA PIT structure, see:

 http://www.gulfofmexicoalliance.org/our-priorities/changes-for-goma-priority-issue-teams/.

 

Florida Center of Excellence Announces 2015 Funding Opportunity

     The Florida Institute of Oceanography Center of Excellence Research Grants Program is requesting proposals for funding to support coastal fisheries and wildlife research and monitoring off the west coast of Florida, from 25 miles inland out to the deep sea. FIO, Florida's Gulf state entity under the federal RESTORE Act, is administering the trust fund established from fines levied in the Deepwater Horizon disaster. The competitive grant program is intended to support science and technology developments that promote environmental recovery from the spill and the long-term health of the Gulf's natural resources. Project priorities, especially those that promote fish population and fishing effort estimates for recreational fisheries, may receive up to $300,000 for two years of support. For more information, contact Program Director Andy Shepard at [email protected] . The GCOOS-RA extends the offer to PIs applying for this RFP to contact Matt Howard, Manager, GCOOS DMAC, [email protected], or Barb Kirkpatrick, Executive Director, GCOOS, [email protected], regarding data management needs.

IOOS/National/Legislative News 

New President and CEO of Consortium for Ocean Leadership

     Joint Ocean Commission Initiative Leadership Council member Sherri Goodman was recently appointed President and CEO of the Consortium for Ocean Leadership, succeeding Leadership Council member Bob Gagosian. Ocean Leadership represents 95 public and private ocean research education institutions, aquaria, and industry with the mission to shape the future of ocean science.

 

NOAA Fisheries Releases Draft Climate Science Strategy for Public Comment

     The NOAA Fisheries has released a draft Climate Science Strategy for public comment. The purpose of the Strategy is to increase the production, delivery, and use of climate-related information in fulfilling NOAA's fisheries stewardship mission for marine and coastal resources. The draft Strategy and information for submitting comments can be found at http://www.st.nmfs.noaa.gov/ecosystems/climate/national-call-for-comments. For more information, contact Roger Griffis, Climate Change Coordinator, at [email protected].

 

Innovation Grant to Communicate Science

     The organization Thinkable.org has launched a $5,000 open innovation grant to help inspire outreach related to research projects. Submissions are video-based and the winner will be chosen by open-vote, empowering researchers to share their work widely. The deadline to submit applications is 27 February 2015. Visit  http://thinkable.org/competition/6to learn more.   

New NRC Report: Decadal Survey of Ocean Sciences

     The National Research Council announced the release of a new report on priorities for ocean science. The report, "Sea Change: 2015-2025 Decadal Survey of Ocean Sciences" identifies eight strategic research priorities for the next decade that will continue to advance scientific understanding of the ocean. It also assesses the infrastructure needed to support this research, and makes recommendations for aligning current and planned infrastructure and budgets with science priorities in order to reach research goals. In the funding climate of flat or reduced budgets, the recommendations include decreasing expenditures on large ocean infrastructure to help ensure the success of core research programs. A public webinar is scheduled for Wednesday, 11 March 2015, at 3:00pm EST. To register for the webinar, visit https://nasevents.webex.com/nasevents/onstage/g.php?d=665828853&t=a. The report is available for download at http://nas-sites.org/dsos2015/.

 

Progress Upgrading Weather Forecast Offices to NWS AWIPS-II

    The National Weather Service (NWS) continues to make progress toward upgrading Weather Forecast Offices (WFOs)to the NWS Advanced Weather Interactive Processing System II (AWIPS-II). First, a WFO gets upgraded to AWIPS-II; a WFO having AWIPS-II then gets the "build" with the High Frequency Radar component. Currently, in the GCOOS-RA footprint, only Houston and Miami have AWIPS-II online. Key West, FL and Brownsville, TX, are expected to come online in February. Tampa and Tallahassee, FL, Mobile, AL, Slidell and Lake Charles, LA, and Corpus Christi, TX, are expected to follow in March. All coastal WFOs are targeted to have AWIPS-II by the end of Fiscal Year 2015. To find coastal WFOs in your region, see  http://www.nws.noaa.gov/om/marine/marine_map.htm. 

Employment Opportunities 

Department of Energy's (DOE) Office of Science Graduate Student Research

(SCGSR) program is accepting applications until 14 April 2015. Contact SCGSR Program Manager, Dr. Ping Ge, at [email protected].

 

NASA Office of Education Scholarship and Research Opportunities

Submit applications by 31 March 2015 through the NASA One Stop Shopping Initiative at

 https://intern.nasa.gov .

Funding Opportunities 

Florida Center of Excellence Announces 2015 Funding Opportunity

     The Florida Institute of Oceanography Center of Excellence Research Grants Program is requesting proposals for funding to support coastal fisheries and wildlife research and monitoring off the west coast of Florida, from 25 miles inland out to the deep sea. FIO, Florida's Gulf state entity under the federal RESTORE Act, is administering the trust fund established from fines levied in the Deepwater Horizon disaster. The competitive grant program is intended to support science and technology developments that promote environmental recovery from the spill and the long-term health of the Gulf's natural resources. Project priorities, especially those that promote fish population and fishing effort estimates for recreational fisheries, may receive up to $300,000 for two years of support. For more information, contact Program Director Andy Shepard at [email protected] . The GCOOS-RA extends the offer to PIs applying for this RFP to contact Matt Howard, Manager, GCOOS DMAC, [email protected], or Barb Kirkpatrick, Executive Director, GCOOS, [email protected], regarding data management needs.

2015 Bay Partner Grant Opportunity

The Sarasota Bay Estuary Program has awarded nearly $247,000 in Bay Partner Grants to support 126 diverse organizations since 2003. A subcommittee with the SBEP Citizens Advisory Committee selects the recipients. The next deadline for submitting grant applications is 2 March 2015. The purpose of the SBEP Bay Partners Grant Program is to promote environmental education, awareness, community involvement, and stewardship to improve the overall quality of Sarasota Bay and its tributaries. To support these goals, funding is available from SBEP for projects that focus on Bay Education, Bay Restoration or Bay-Friendly Landscaping. Applications for the 2014-15 Bay Partners Grants must be received by 4pm on 2 March. Visit the Bay Partners Grant page (http://sarasotabay.org/get-involved/bay-partners-grant-program/) to learn more and download the application.

Gulf Research Program Funding Deadlines Extended

     The Gulf Research Program is extending the application deadlines for the 2015 exploratory grants and fellowship competitions. Please submit application materials by the extended deadlines listed below. Exploratory Grants LOI are now due 25 February 2015 at 5pm ET. Fellowship Applications are now due on 27 February 2015 at 5 pm. Visit  http://www.nas.edu/gulf/about.

Current Events and Meetings 


February
"National Ocean Sciences Bowl Regionals", 7-28 February 2015 
"Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill & Ecosystem Science Conference", 16-19 February 2015, Westin Galleria Hotel, Houston, TX 
http://gulfofmexicoconference.org

March 

"GCOOS-RA Board of Directors and Members Meeting", 11-12 March 2015. New Orleans, LA

 

"Coastal GeoTools", 30 March-2 April 2015, Embassy Suites Hotel, North Charleston, South Carolina 
http://coastalgeotools.org

May 

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

Click here for details. 
 
"Blue Planet Symposium" 27-29 May 2015, Cairns, Australia
http://www.blueplanetsymposium.com 

June 

 "GOMA All-Hands Meeting", 16-18 June 2015, Biloxi, MS   

September

"ECSA 55: Unbounded boundaries and shifting baselines, Estuaries and coastal seas in a rapidly changing world", 6-9 September 2015, London, UK

Click here for more details.