GCOOS News and Updates for July 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 

GCOOS-RA Supports Local/Regional Data Providers for FY 14-15
Maintaining the "system of systems" approach that it initiated a decade ago, the GCOOS-RA continues to support key, existing local and regional data providers in the Gulf of Mexico through the annual grant from the NOAA IOOS Office. For FY 14-15, the GCOOS-RA will support the following institutions for in situ observations, high frequency radar, and satellite products:
In Situ Observations: Texas Coastal Ocean Observing Network (operated by the Conrad Blucher Institute at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi), Texas Observatory for Algal Succession Time-series (Texas A&M University), Wave-Current-Surge Information System for Coastal Louisiana (Louisiana State University), LUMCON Environmental Monitoring System (Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium), Central Gulf of Mexico Ocean Observing System (University of Southern Mississippi), Mobile Bay Environmental Monitoring System (Dauphin Island Sea Lab), Air Force Tower N7 station (Florida State University Marine Lab), Coastal Ocean Monitoring & Prediction System (University of South Florida), Mote Marine Lab Red Tide Monitoring System (Mote Marine Lab), and the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation.
HF Radar: HF Radar System for MS, AL, and the western FL Panhandle (University of Southern Mississippi - three stations)
Satellite: Earth Scan Laboratory (Louisiana State University-various Gulf of Mexico products), Institute for Marine Remote Sensing and Optical Oceanography Laboratory (University of South Florida-various Gulf of Mexico products), and Colorado Center for Astrodynamics Research Gulf of Mexico satellite oceanography forecasts (University of Colorado-sea surface height product).
For more details, see http://gcoos.tamu.edu/?p=6980. Data are available from http://data.gcoos.org and products are available from http://gcoos.org/products.
GCOOS-RA and Gulf of Mexico Alliance (GOMA) Sign MOU
In June 2014, the GCOOS-RA and GOMA signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) confirming the commitment to collaborate on issues of critical importance to the Gulf of Mexico. The MOU identifies the needs to:
*    Develop and support Gulf of Mexico regional initiatives;
*    Facilitate educational opportunities that mutually benefit GOMA partners and GCOOS-RA stakeholders;
*    Identify observations and data products from the U.S. coastal estuaries, rivers, and Exclusive Economic Zone
      needed by stakeholders in the region. 
*    Collaborate on efforts required for observing systems in the Gulf of Mexico; and
*    Promote Gulf-wide information integration and sharing of data and products.
New Updates to the GCOOS Data Portal
The GCOOS Data Portal was updated in July 2014 with features to better present the assets in GCOOS. The new "Assets" page (http://data.gcoos.org ) now contains a tab to present a data asset summary. The summary includes an interactive pie chart showing the distribution of resources and a cumulative plot of data by data type archived in GCOOS.
The "Monitoring" page, accessible from another tab, was also modified to include:
(A)   A status button to show if data are being transmitted to GCOOS by data providers;
(B)   Contact details as registered with GCOOS; and
(C)   An interactive plot of the daily record counts that GCOOS receives from a provider.
These additional features, previously only available for internal use, will assist all parties to monitor the data collection activities. For images and more details, see http://gcoos.tamu.edu/?p=6911.
Recommendations from GOMRI 2014 Oil Spill and Ecosystem Science Conference Session, "Current and Future Ecosystem Monitoring Strategies in the Gulf of Mexico" and GCOOS Activities: A Summary
At the 2014 Oil Spill and Ecosystem Science Conference sponsored by the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative, Drs. Rebecca Green (U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management), Alyssa Dausman (U.S. Geological Survey), Steve Murawski (University of South Florida), Chris Elfring (National Academies of Sciences), and Kim Waddell (National Academies of Sciences) co-sponsored a session called, "Current and Future Ecosystem Monitoring Strategies in the Gulf of Mexico: Spanning Disciplines, Platforms, and Affiliations". A product of this session was a final report with recommendations for an optimized, integrated observing system for the Gulf.
The GCOOS-RA values these recommendations highly and has since reviewed our activities, and those of the U.S. Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS), relative to the session recommendations. Table 1 and 2 summarizes these activities.
Table 1. Overall Recommendations from the GoMRI Conference Session and GCOOS Activities
GoMRI Session Overall Recs.
GCOOS Activities
Develop an effective Business Model
Business Model is under revision and Development Plan is in draft form
Highlight advanced technologies
Technology research and development are included in the Gulf of Mexico Observing System Plan (http://gcoos.tamu.edu/BuildOut/BuildOutPlan-V2.pdf )
Quantify economic value of an observing system
GCOOS-RA Board identified this need and member, BOEM, funded an ongoing 3-year study in partnership with LSU
Building consensus and vision
20 stakeholder workshops informed the Gulf of Mexico Observing System Plan, stakeholder-focused organizational structure (Board with private, governmental, academic, outreach/education sector representatives.; stakeholder-based councils, committees, and task teams)
Gap assessment and analysis
Undertaken for moorings, HF radar, hypoxia, HABS, and more as part of the System Plan
Improved communication of monitoring products
GCOOS Data Products page (http://gcoos.org/products/ ) and additional work identified in the System Plan
Single location for accessing data
GCOOS Data Portal (http://data.gcoos.org ) and additional improvements identified in the System Plan
Table 2. Additional Recommendations from the GoMRI Conference Session and GCOOS/IOOS Activities
Additional GoMRI Session Recs.
GCOOS/IOOS Activities
"Community of Practice" Standards
Quality Assurance for Real-Time Oceanographic Data (QARTOD) QA/QC standards for water level and in situ parameters (e.g., temperature, salinity, dissolved oxygen, waves, currents ( http://www.ioos.noaa.gov/qartod/welcome.html); GOMA Water Quality PIT recommendations; IOOS Data Management and Communications (DMAC) standards http://www.ioos.noaa.gov/data/contribute_data.html ; Interagency Ocean Observations Committee (IOOC) core variables list http://www.iooc.us/ocean-observations/variables/
"System of Systems" Approach
GCOOS has a partnership model based on existing systems
Inventory of assets
IOOS Data Catalog and Asset Viewer http://www.ioos.noaa.gov/catalog/welcome.html
Improve communication of benefits
GCOOS communications team with strategy and long-term plan, BOEM/LSU study, more details in the System Plan
Data management requirements
GCOOS DMAC = portal, products, tools and technical assistance for data providers, more identified in the System Plan; IOOS DMAC standard- compliant
In summary, the GCOOS-RA and U.S. IOOS value the session recommendations and have been addressing them -- some for the 10-year, stakeholder-driven history of the GCOOS-RA and others more recently, inspired by events such as the GOMRI session. The collective input of diverse audiences over the past decade are what have guided development of the Gulf of Mexico Observing System Plan (http://gcoos.tamu.edu/BuildOut/BuildOutPlan-V2.pdf). See the full summary at http://gcoos.tamu.edu/?p=6968.
GCOOS in the Classroom
During the 2013-2014 school year, GCOOS Outreach and Education lead, Dr. Chris Simoniello, worked with students and educators in the Pinellas County School District to incorporate real data into classroom activities and to demonstrate how science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) are applied to real life. Hands-on lessons incorporated resources from the GCOOS Data Portal and included lessons on invasive species, climate change, and weather. To learn more and read what the participating students and teachers had to say about GCOOS in their classrooms, visit http://gcoos.tamu.edu/?p=5974.
Robert Sullivan and William Lingsch Fill Vacant GCOOS-RA Board of Directors Positions
Worth Nowlin announced the results of the GCOOS elections of Directors to fill the unexpired terms of Barbara Kirkpatrick and Sharon Walker. Those elected are Robert Sullivan (CHORA) to represent the Outreach and Education sector and William Lingsch (QinteQ North America) to represent the Private sector. The new directors have been invited to GCOOS' September 2014 Board meeting in Houston.
Texas A&M University Deploys Two Gliders to Monitor Hypoxia in the Northern Gulf of Mexico
Dr. Steven DiMarco, Texas A&M University (TAMU) Geochemical and Environmental Research Group (GERG), is leading a team deploying gliders to monitor hypoxia in the Northern Gulf of Mexico. Two Slocum profiling gliders, Reveille (#307) and #308, were deployed on 11 July and are still deployed as of 15 July, the date of this publication. The gliders are monitoring off the western coast of Louisiana. Both gliders are equipped with Conductivity-Temperature-Depth (CTDs), fluorometers, and dissolved oxygen sensors. 
This deployment is part of a larger glider demonstration project for hypoxia monitoring in the Northern Gulf of Mexico. The goal of the demonstration is to show efficient and effective comparisons between the glider- and ongoing cruise-collected hypoxia data in a highly vertically stratified, shallow, and heavily ship-trafficked region of the Gulf of Mexico. The glider-hypoxia demonstration is the result of the efforts of many organizations to cooperate and collaborate on a project that will achieve the objectives for showing the usefulness of gliders for the detection and assessment of hypoxia. The project is funded by NOAA's National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science (NCCOS) in conjunction with its Gulf of Mexico Ecosystems & Hypoxia Assessment (NGOMEX)Program and the U.S. Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS) Office through a $35,000 award to the GCOOS-RA. Project development is a public-private cooperative effort of Dr. Stephan Howden of the University of Southern Mississippi, Dr. DiMarco, Teledyne-Webb Research (TWR), Exocetus Development LLC, NCCOS' Center for Sponsored Coastal Ocean Research (CSCOR) and IOOS. Gliders are being contributed by TWR, Exocetus Development LLC, TAMU GERG, and TAMU-Galveston. The hypoxia cruise is funded by CSCOR as part of its NGOMEX research program.
To read the story about the glider demonstration project for hypoxia monitoring, see http://gcoos.tamu.edu/?p=6401 .
Stay tuned for more details as the demonstration project unfolds.

2014 Forecast of Summer Hypoxic Zone in the Northern Gulf of Mexico
Dr. Nancy Rabalais, GCOOS Board Member and Executive Director of the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium, publishes a forecast of the areal extent of the Northern Gulf of Mexico summer hypoxic zone. The following is from her annual prediction.
Each year a hypoxic water mass with oxygen concentrations < 2 mg l-1 forms in bottom waters of the northern Gulf of Mexico continental shelf. The low oxygen conditions threaten living resources, including humans, which depend on fish, shrimp and crabs. Nutrients from the Mississippi River watershed, particularly nitrogen and phosphorus, fertilize the surface waters to fuel the growth of excessive amounts of algae, whose decomposition in the bottom layer leads to oxygen depletion and stress or death to organisms. Various models use the May nitrogen load of the Mississippi River as the main driving force to predict the size of this hypoxic zone in late July. This prediction is based on one of these models.
The June 2014 forecast of the size of the July 2014 hypoxic zone in the northern Gulf of Mexico is that it will cover 14,785 km2 (5,708 mi2) of the bottom of the continental shelf off Louisiana and Texas. The 95% confidence interval is that it will be between 12,078 and 17,378 km2 (4,663 and 6,710 mi2). This estimate is based on the assumption that there are no significant tropical storms occurring in the two weeks before or during the monitoring cruise. If a storm does occur, the size of the zone is predicted to be 70% of the predicted size without the storm, equivalent to 10,350 km2 (3,996 mi2). The predicted volume of hypoxic waters without storms is 43.2 km3 with a 95% confidence interval between 35.1 and 52.1 km3.
If the area of hypoxia reaches its predicted size, approximately the area of Connecticut, it will exceed threefold the targeted goal identified in the Hypoxia Action Plan (less than 5,000 km2).
Caveats: 1) This prediction discounts the effect of large storm events that temporarily disrupt the physical and biological system attributes promoting stratification and the formation of the low oxygen zone in bottom waters; 2) The potential space on the shelf where hypoxia occurs is limited by the bathymetry; 3) The predictions assume that there will be no abrupt changes in discharge from now through July; 4) Unusual weather patterns affecting coastal winds, as experienced in 2009 and 2011, may skew the prediction to be lower.
View the full story and link to the report at http://gcoos.tamu.edu/?p=6745.
BOEM-LSU Economic Benefits of GCOOS Ocean Observing Study: Status Update
The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), in partnership with the Coastal Marine Institute at Louisiana State University (LSU), has launched an economic study of the Gulf of Mexico Coastal Ocean Observing System (GCOOS). The three-year cooperative project between BOEM and the LSU will enhance our understanding of the social and economic value of GCOOS, while providing decision makers the data necessary to plan for future changes to the GCOOS.
As of July 2014, the study has produced an extensive literature review document, which addresses the purpose of valuing information, reviews evaluation methods that have been previously used, examines how valuation methods have varied in previous studies, and identifies how past studies suggest valuation methods relevant to the GCOOS study. See http://gcoos.tamu.edu/?p=6995 or contact Dr. Kazmierczak at rkazmierczak@agcenter.lsu.edu.
Paper Published on the First Autonomous Bio-Optical Profiling Float in the Gulf of Mexico
Drs. Rebecca Green (BOEM), Amy Bower (Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution), and Alexis Lugo-Fern�ndez (BOEM) recently published a paper entitled, "First Autonomous Bio-Optical Profiling Float in the Gulf of Mexico Reveals Dynamic Biogeochemistry in Deep Waters" in PLoS ONE, July 2014. The abstract follows:
"Profiling floats equipped with bio-optical sensors well complement ship-based and satellite ocean color measurements by providing highly-resolved time-series data on the vertical structure of biogeochemical processes in oceanic waters. This is the first study to employ an autonomous profiling (APEX) float in the Gulf of Mexico for measuring spatiotemporal variability in bio-optics and hydrography. During the 17-month deployment (July 2011 to December 2012), the float mission collected profiles of temperature, salinity, chlorophyll fluorescence, particulate backscattering (bbp), and colored dissolved organic matter (CDOM) fluorescence from the ocean surface to a depth of 1,500 m. Biogeochemical variability was characterized by distinct depth trends and local ''hot spots'', including impacts from mesoscale processes associated with each of the water masses sampled, from ambient deep waters over the Florida Plain, into the Loop Current, up the Florida Canyon, and eventually into the Florida Straits. A deep chlorophyll maximum (DCM) occurred between 30 and 120 m, with the DCM depth significantly related to the unique density layer r = 1023.6 (R2 = 0.62). Particulate backscattering, bbp, demonstrated multiple peaks throughout the water column, including from phytoplankton, deep scattering layers, and resuspension. The bio-optical relationship developed between bbp and chlorophyll (R2 = 0.49) was compared to a global relationship and could significantly improve regional ocean-color algorithms. Photooxidation and autochthonous production contributed to CDOM distributions in the upper water column, whereas in deep water, CDOM behaved as a semi-conservative tracer of water masses, demonstrating a tight relationship with density (R2 = 0.87). In the wake of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, this research lends support to the use of autonomous drifting profilers as a powerful tool for consideration in the design of an expanded and integrated observing network for the Gulf of Mexico."
Article citation: Green RE, Bower AS, Lugo-Fern�ndez A (2014) First Autonomous Bio-Optical Profiling Float in the Gulf of Mexico Reveals Dynamic Biogeochemistry in
Deep Waters. PLoS ONE 9(7): e101658. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0101658 .

IOOS/National/Legislative News 

Figure courtesy of Oceanography 

Paper Published on a Framework for a Marine Biodiversity Observing Network

The most recent issue of Oceanography includes a paper by a team of marine scientists from around the nation on a framework for a Marine Biodiversity Observing Network (MBON). The keys to building an effective MBON will be to:

1.  Determine the minimum set of observations needed to define ocean biodiversity, and

2.Establish connections between existing international ecological time-series programs and standardize methodologies to enable comparison of data.

The authors suggest that an effective approach for monitoring ecosystem function is to monitor the abundance and diversity of marine microbes. Read more at http://gcoos.tamu.edu/?p=7007 . The full citation of the article is: Muller-Karger, F.E., M.T. Kavanaugh, E. Montes, W.M. Balch, M. Breitbart, F.P. Chavez, S.C. Doney, E.M. Johns, R.M. Letelier, M.W. Lomas, H.M. Sosik, and A.E. White, 2014: A framework for a marine biodiversity observing network within changing continental shelf seascapes, Oceanography, 27(2), 18-23, http://dx.doi.org/10.5670/oceanog.2014.56.


"Our Ocean" Symposium

Secretary of State John Kerry hosted an international symposium called "Our Ocean" to take steps to create a healthier ocean. The conference, held at the State Department on 16-18 June 2014, focused on three key issues - sustainable fisheries, marine pollution, and ocean acidification. Marine pollution narrowed the relevant topics to marine debris, nutrient pollution, and ocean acidification. Dr. Nancy Rabalais, GCOOS Board Member and LUMCON Executive Director, set the stage for the nutrient pollution panel with State of the Science, followed by a presentation on the Baltic Sea by Dr. Dan Conley (Lund University, Sweden), two solution presentations by Crispin d'Auvergne (Government of Saint Lucia) on their efforts to address nutrient pollution, and Kari Niedfeldt-Thomas (The Mosaic Company) on best management practices in agriculture. Attendees included President Anote Tong of the island nation Kiribati and President Tommy E. Remengesau, Jr. of Palau, Prince Albert II of Monaco, and national ministers from Chile, Norway and Tonga, the president of The World Bank, and celebrities, CEOs of ocean foundations, and ocean conservationists Philipppe Cousteau, Leonardo DiCaprio and Ted Danson. Video remarks were made by President Barak Obama to target illegal fishing activities and to expand marine protected areas. Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D, Massachusetts) and Lisa Murkowski (R, Alaska), who formed the original Ocean Caucus for Congress, shared the podium on the second day State Luncheon.

See the full story at http://gcoos.tamu.edu/?p=6698.

Funding Opportunities 

NOAA Ocean Acidification Program

NOAA's Ocean Acidification Program and NOAA's National Ocean Service National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science have jointly published a Federal Funding Opportunity looking at multiple effects of ocean acidification and nutrient loading to coastal marine ecosystems. More about this funding opportunity can be found at grants.gov.


Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium Offers Funding Opportunity for Resilience Research

The Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium is accepting one- or two-year proposals to participate in innovative research to address resilient communities and economies along the five counties adjacent to the Alabama and Mississippi coast. Federal funding requests cannot exceed $65,000 per year. A non-federal match of 1 dollar for every 2 dollars of federal funding is required. For more on this please visit, click here.

Employment Opportunities 

Associate Director, Georgia Sea Grant College Program



Director, Ocean and Coastal Policy Program, Duke University



Assistant Director, Educations Program, Marine Biological Laboratory, Woods Hole



Christine Mirzayan Science & Technology Policy Graduate Fellowship, National Academy of Sciences


Current Events and Meetings 


"Advancing Ecological Modeling for Diversions and Hypoxia in the Northern Gulf of Mexico", 14-16 July 2014, Stennis Space Center, MS, sponsored by NOAA.



"Conference on Ecological and Ecosystem Restoration", 28 July-1 August 2014, Hilton Riverside, New Orleans, LA.



"International Marine Science Communication Conference", 8-9 September 2014, Porto, Portugal.



"GCOOS Board of Directors and Members Meeting", 10-11 September 2014, Houston, TX


"IEEE/OES/MTS Ocean's 14", 14-19 September 2014, Delta St. John's Hotel, St. John's Convention Center, St. Johns, Newfoundland, Canada.  

"2014 Rising Seas Summit", 24-16 September 2014, Crowne Plaza Times Square, New York NY. http://risingseassummit.org/


"Restore America's Estuaries 7th National Summit on Coastal and Estuarine Restoration and 24th Biennial Meeting of the Coastal Society", 1-6 November 2014, Gaylord National Convention Center, Washington, DC.



"Second International Kemps Ridley Sea Turtle Symposium 2014", 18-19 November 2014, Brownsville Events Center, Brownsville, TX



"AGU Fall Meeting", 15-19 December 2014, San Francisco, CA.




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

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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