Synthesis of Regional IOOS Build-out Plans for the Next Decade

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1 Synthesis of Regional IOOS Build-out Plans for the Next Decade Prepared for the Integrated Ocean Observing System Association by Holly Price and Leslie Rosenfeld December 2012

2 Executive Summary The oceans, coasts and Great Lakes are critical features of the nation, affecting our economy by providing food and recreation, sustaining complex ecosystems and species, and influencing coastal communities and marine transportation. The need for more comprehensive and higher resolution data and information about these waters has never been greater, including information on severe storm events, coastal flooding, water quality, ecosystem health and the long-term impacts of climate change. The U.S. Integrated Ocean Observing System (U.S. IOOS ) provides the framework for such a network of observations, analyses and forecasting capabilities to preserve public safety, protect property and sustain ecosystem health. U.S. IOOS is a federal, regional, and private-sector partnership working to enhance our ability to collect, deliver and use ocean information. The coastal component of IOOS (coastal IOOS) is a partnership among 17 federal agencies and 11 Regional Associations (RAs) that operate coastal observing systems. The RAs have primary responsibility for nonfederal observations within their respective regions, for developing and integrating these assets with the federal system and for delivering timely and effective products to meet user needs. In 2011 the 11 RAs developed build-out plans based on the needs of stakeholders in their regions and their assessment of what is realistically achievable. This document synthesizes the 11 plans and presents the vision for full implementation, or build-out, of the IOOS regional observing systems for the oceans, coasts and Great Lakes over the next 10 years. It identifies the common elements to be included in the 11 regions, in concert with federal assets, by The build-out plan describes the organization of the system, identifies common products to address user needs, outlines key system assets that will be required, and recommends next steps to refine the vision. User needs Users of coastal IOOS include a broad spectrum of federal, state and local agencies, private industry, nonprofit organizations and the public. Five main themes of uses for coastal IOOS information are: Marine operations, which includes shipping, fishing and recreational vessels, search and rescue, spill planning and response and offshore energy Coastal, beach and nearshore hazards, including extreme weather events, storm surges, inundation and waves, as well as public safety for beach use Water quality, including point and nonpoint source pollution, HABs, hypoxia and eutrophication Ecosystems and fisheries, including linkages between physical, chemical and biological variables, health indices, and larval transport of fish Long-term change and decadal variability, including ocean acidification, shoreline and water level changes, and shifting ecosystem conditions Across these themes, the planning process identified key user goals or decisions that could benefit from ocean information, defined 27 key products or services that coastal IOOS could i

3 provide to meet that need, and described the related variables that must be included. System needs A multifaceted system of observations, models, analyses, visualizations and tactical decision aids is needed to create the 27 products outlined in the plan and meet priority user needs over the next decade. A host of different variables must be measured in the ocean, coasts, Great Lakes and atmosphere to serve as inputs to product development. There are a number of different ways to measure these variables, including in-situ sensors that make measurements within the water, and remote sensors that are deployed above the water surface and look down on it. The synthesis plan outlines needs for various platforms that can carry the equipment needed to measure, record and transmit data on these key variables and provides a typical range for the number of platforms needed per region in 10 years. In-situ fixed platforms such as shore stations and moorings are typically used to obtain a long time series of measurements at the same location. Ten to 30 ocean or Lake shore stations, meteorological shore stations and 5-32 multipurpose moorings are needed per region. In-situ mobile platforms are used to determine how conditions vary over space. Needs include one to four Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUVs), five to seven profiling gliders per region, as well as access to various ships. Needs for remote sensing platforms include High Frequency (HF) radars per region, as well as access to various satellite sensors and airborne LiDAR. In addition to observing platforms, all the RAs identified a variety of numerical models that are needed to infer information for places, times, and/or variables that have not been directly measured, and to forecast how the environment will change over time. Model simulations and forecasts are needed for weather, circulation, waves, inundation, water quality and ecosystems in order to meet priority user needs. In addition to products, platforms, and models, a variety of other observing system components must also be fully implemented to carry out the vision of the 10-year build-out plan. The synthesis articulates needs and personnel requirements for user engagement, education, data management and communication, research and development and system management. These components are critical to integrating the observing system platforms and models into an effectively managed system to meet user needs. Next steps The synthesis of the regional build-out plans articulates the future needs for coastal IOOS and the component elements required nationally. Additional collaborations and analyses are needed to translate the synthesis into a more detailed implementable plan. This next phase of planning should define regionally applicable but nationally consistent technical and functional requirements for completing the build-out, and define roles for the many IOOS partners. To take coastal IOOS from a series of successful pilot projects to an operational system in the next decade, expert teams of representatives of federal agencies, RAs and subject matter experts need to be assembled to answer critical design issues for the build-out. Definition is needed on ii

4 technical and functional requirements such as spatial and temporal scales, data delivery rates, operation and maintenance requirements, estimated costs, along with definition of the roles and responsibilities across the federal/ra partnership. Teams should be developed to focus on: Modeling, including nesting of models of different scales and development of boundary conditions, validation/certification, use of ensembles of models, coupling of oceanic and atmospheric models and physical-biological models. Observations, including the best mix of in-situ fixed, in-situ mobile and remote platforms and sensors to meet user needs, more objective system design techniques, and appropriate spatial and temporal scales to meet user needs. Biology and ecosystems, including how coastal IOOS can best address user needs in this area, integration of biological, physical and chemical data, coupling of models, and expansion of new technologies into operational use. Products and services, including an integrated approach to developing and/or expanding use of the 27 products for the five themes outlined in the build-out plan, building on existing products, and coordinating efforts among regions and federal partners. Additional expert teams are also recommended to further refine and develop implementation plans for user engagement, data management and communication and research and development. The recommendations from the various expert teams for the topics above must also be assembled and assessed by an overarching group of experts tasked with incorporating these components into a comprehensive vision and plan for the next phase of coastal IOOS implementation. This process can be used to resolve issues for each component so the federal agencies and regional systems can be integrated into an overall national system for coastal IOOS. After 10 years, the build-out of coastal IOOS will provide the country with a dramatically improved system, with each region operating a suite of platforms, sensors, and models, while also taking advantage of a range of models and remote sensing systems operated by other entities. The regions and their federal partners will develop, produce and distribute a variety of critical products, with the spatial and temporal scales and accuracy needed to support health, safety and resource management. iii

5 Acknowledgements This synthesis is based on the regional build-out plans prepared by the 11 IOOS Regional Associations and their Boards of Directors, Principal Investigators, staff, advisors and partners. Their hard work and vision provides the basis for the information in this report. To see the regional build-out plans, please see usnfra.org. IOOS Association staff and Board of Directors dedicated their talents, time and effort to developing the build-out plans and providing guidance to this synthesis. Special thanks to the Steering Committee: Ann Jochens, Debra Hernandez, Josh Kohut, Molly McCammon, Ru Morrison, Josie Quintrell, Harvey Seim and Suzanne Skelley. The U.S. IOOS Program Office provided financial support for a detailed comparison of the 11 plans and the preparation of this synthesis document, and provided guidance throughout the process. iv

6 Table of Contents Executive Summary... i Acknowledgements... iv 1.0 Introduction Integrated Ocean Observing Systems and their applications Organization of existing observing systems A regional approach Partnerships Components of observing systems Synthesis of regional build- out plans for observing systems User needs over the next 10 years Products serving multiple user needs Marine operations Vessels Search and Rescue Spill response Offshore energy Regional differences in information needs Outcomes and success measures Coastal, beach and nearshore hazards Emergency Response and Preparedness Regional differences in information needs Outcomes and success measures Water quality Nonpoint and point source pollution Harmful algal blooms Hypoxia and eutrophication Regional differences in information needs Outcomes and success measures Ecosystems and fisheries Healthy and productive ecosystems and fisheries Regional differences in information needs Outcomes and success measures Long- term change and decadal variability Ocean Acidification Shoreline and water level changes Long term trends in ecosystem conditions Regional differences in information needs Outcomes and success measures Product development and engagement with users The observing / modeling system - platforms and measurements Measurements v

7 11.2 Platforms Fixed platforms Mobile platforms Remote sensing platforms / instruments Distribution of platforms Key partnerships and leveraging in the system of platforms The observing / modeling system - models Characteristics of RA modeling efforts Common types of models Model development The observing/modeling system linkages Relationship between platforms and variables Other factors influencing the makeup of the observing system Typical regional system of platforms and models in build- out plan Data management and communication Education Research and Development System management Next Steps Recommendation to Establish Expert Teams Modeling Observations Biology and Ecosystems Products and services User Engagement Data management Emerging Technology/ Research and Development Complete integration Conclusions References Acronyms and Abbreviations vi

8 1.0 Introduction The oceans, coasts and Great Lakes are critical features of the nation, affecting our economy by providing food and recreation, sustaining complex ecosystems and species, and influencing coastal communities and marine transportation. The need for more comprehensive and higher resolution data and information about these waters has never been greater, including information on severe storm events, coastal flooding, water quality, ecosystem health and the long-term impacts of climate change. All of these factors require an expanded network of observations, analyses and forecasting capabilities to preserve public safety, protect property and sustain ecosystem health. The U.S. Integrated Ocean Observing System (U.S. IOOS ) provides the framework for such a network. U.S. IOOS is a federal, regional, and private-sector partnership working to enhance our ability to collect, deliver and use ocean information. It delivers the data and information needed to increase understanding of our oceans, coasts and Great Lakes, so decision makers can take action to improve safety, enhance the economy, and protect the environment. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is the lead federal agency for IOOS, which includes both a global and coastal component. The coastal component of IOOS (coastal IOOS) is a partnership among federal agencies and 11 Regional Associations (RAs) that operate coastal observing systems (Figure 1.1). The Integrated Coastal and Ocean Observation System (ICOOS) Act authorizing the establishment of IOOS in 2009 required the development of an Independent Cost Estimate for the IOOS program and an annual process for assessing gaps in observing assets and needs for capital improvements. To support that effort, in 2011 the 11 RAs developed build-out plans for the next decade based on the needs of stakeholders in their regions and their assessment of what is realistically achievable given the wide variability currently in regional observing assets and capacity. This document synthesizes the 11 plans and presents the vision for full implementation, or buildout, of the IOOS regional observing systems for the oceans, coasts and Great Lakes over the next 10 years. It identifies the common elements to be included in the 11 regions, in concert with federal assets, by The build-out plan describes the organization of the system, identifies common products to address user needs, outlines key system assets that will be required, and recommends next steps to refine the vision. Ten years from now, the existing regional observing systems will be transformed into a sustained program of ocean observations and models that can reliably and rapidly supply the integrated information needed to plan, conserve and wisely manage our ocean, coast and Great Lakes ecosystems and resources. 1.1 Integrated Ocean Observing Systems and their applications Information developed by coastal IOOS has widespread applications to critical issues affecting the nation s economy, food supply, public health and safety, protection of coastal property, and the environment. Efficient and effective marine transportation, search and rescue operations, and oil spill response all rely on accurate information and predictions about ocean and weather conditions. Coastal communities need accurate predictions of storm events, erosion, and flooding patterns to protect life and property, while the safety of beach users depends on accurate 1

9 information on contamination levels, waves, and rip currents. Sustainable fisheries depend on an understanding of the changing currents and temperatures that affect fish populations. Expanding dead zones, climate change and acidification of oceans, coasts and Great Lakes require detailed understanding of conditions to minimize impacts and inform decisions. Figure 1.1. The 11 Regional Associations of IOOS The increasing and sometimes conflicting uses of our coastal waters for food, transportation, energy, mineral resources and recreation require careful planning to balance economic, social and environmental concerns. Effective ecosystem-based management depends on monitoring and prediction of the physical, chemical and biological components and their relation to spatial patterns of human uses of the ocean. These and many other applications are critical uses of the information developed by coastal IOOS. Many of these applications will become even more important in future years as the impacts of global climate change affect oceanic and meteorological conditions. Full implementation of coastal IOOS is critically important for economic development, public health and safety, and managing marine ecosystems. Initial observing projects have 2

10 demonstrated the value of integrating and using locally specific data and nationally relevant information to support policy decisions, maintain safe operations and foster the successful management of healthy coastal ecosystems throughout the country. This ability is only achievable through a coordinated network of regional systems linked with federal agencies, local stakeholders and regional partners. 2.0 Organization of existing observing systems Coastal ecosystems are complex. U.S. territorial waters encompass 11 Large Marine Ecosystems (LMEs), as designated by NOAA, that range from the cold waters of the Chukchi Sea in the Arctic to the warm waters of the tropical Pacific Islands (Sherman and Hempel, 2008). The Great Lakes, with over 10,000 miles of coastline, are the world s largest system of freshwater lakes. Although there are many common scientific and economic factors and types of ocean information users across U.S. waters, regions are also characterized by unique geological, physical and chemical properties, biological productivity and human uses. The complexities of the coastal environment and the inherent variability in regional ecology call for partnerships that not only cut across federal agencies but also reach out to regional managers, academia, industry, non-governmental organizations and the general public. The RAs of U.S. IOOS serve that function, and are essential to building and supporting the system. 2.1 A regional approach The regional component of U.S. IOOS was created to enhance the ability of federal agencies to provide the depth or scale of information needed to solve national issues that manifest themselves at the regional and local levels, and to benefit from the knowledge and expertise at the local and regional level. The U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy, the Pew Ocean Commission and the Interagency Ocean Policy Task Force have endorsed a regional approach to ocean observing systems as a complement to the national and global components. The RAs provide increased observation density at regional and local scales, expert knowledge, and technological competencies related to unique local environments, such as ice-filled seas, coral reefs, and the Great Lakes. They play a critical role in convening regional and local experts, agencies, industries and other users to understand mutual needs, evaluate priorities for ocean information, share knowledge and leverage resources to develop products addressing user needs. They also provide a forum for coordination on ocean observing among all interested parties at a regional level. The 11 regional associations and their associated Regional Coastal Ocean Observing Systems (RCOOS) provide the regional component of U.S. IOOS and serve in the capacity of Regional Information Coordination Entities (RICEs) as described in the ICOOS Act. For brevity, these may be referred to as regional associations or RAs in the remainder of this report. 3

11 2.2 Partnerships The regional associations are part of an integrated partnership with federal agencies. Federal partners of U.S. IOOS include 17 National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration agencies (Table 2.1) none of which (NOAA) alone has the capacity to fully National Science Foundation (NSF) implement U.S. IOOS on a national scale, but all of whom contribute to National Aeronautics and Space Administration the mission. These federal agencies (NASA) are generally responsible for global Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and national scales of observation and analysis, and provide active support, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation funding, guidance, or advice to the and Enforcement (BOEM and BSEE) program. The first 11 federal partners Marine Mammal Commission (MMC) listed are also part of the Interagency Ocean Observation Committee Office of Naval Research (ONR) (IOOC), and they play a direct Oceanographer of the Navy, oversight role in the development of representing the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) U.S. IOOS. These federal agencies U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) also are part of the Global Ocean Observing System (GOOS) that U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) provides a framework for U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) international cooperation on observations, modeling and analyses Department of Agriculture, Cooperative State of the interconnected nature of the Research, world s oceans. Education and Extension Service (CSREES) Department of Energy (DOE) The RAs have primary responsibility for nonfederal observations within Department of State (DOS) their respective regions, for Department of Transportation (DOT) developing and integrating these assets with the federal system and for Food and Drug Administration (FDA) delivering timely and effective U.S Arctic Research Commission (USARC) products to meet user needs. Nonfederal partners in U.S. IOOS Table 2.1. Federal partners of U.S. IOOS include state, local and tribal governmental agencies, academia, industry and nongovernmental organizations who play critical roles in providing strategic guidance to system development, identifying user needs, collecting, distributing and evaluating data, and developing models and products. These collaborations with partners allow the system to achieve objectives that are too large and complex for any component to achieve on its own. Regions and federal agencies use the IOOS investment to leverage additional resources and thus multiply the value of the original investment. They link existing assets into a connected system, and enhance that system by adding new assets. Since much of the information made available through the IOOS regions is based on observing assets and data not funded by U.S. IOOS, regions provide access to information that was previously difficult or impossible to find. 4

12 Effective and consistent collaboration among these various partner organizations is essential to support the planning and coordination of national IOOS development. 2.3 Components of observing systems A regional observing system is a comprehensive operation that includes all the components necessary to collect observations and turn them into useful and meaningful information products. The 11 RAs design, operate and manage 11 regional ocean observing systems. They include the following core components that are integrated into a unified system as summarized below. Observing platforms and sensors: Platforms fixed in place that collect and relay data from above and/or below the water and provide detailed information on particular locations. These include shore stations on piers as well as offshore moorings that collect data on an array of meteorological and oceanographic variables. Mobile platforms that transit broad swaths of ocean and Great Lakes, conducting monitoring along transit lines or responding to specific events such as upwelling or spills. These platforms, such as autonomous gliders and powered underwater vehicles, or more traditional ships, complement the point measurements collected by fixed platforms. Remote instruments and platforms, such as high frequency radars and satellites, that provide synoptic views of surface conditions. Models: Systems of mathematical equations solved on computers, used to infer information for places, times, and/or parameters that cannot be measured, and to forecast how the environment will change over time Observing systems use models to simulate a variety of atmospheric, ocean, or Great Lakes properties, including temperature, salinity, currents, waves, and water quality. Regional-scale models are nested within basin and global-scale models to provide users with higher resolution forecasts. Data management: Data management and integration that support seamless access to regional data Ensures that data is archived, recorded and transmitted in ways that are consistent in content and format with other providers of the same data Product development and engagement with users: Engagement with decision-makers and users to fully understand specific needs for IOOS information, the most appropriate formats and channels to receive the information, and to share knowledge to develop effective products Analysis that translates data into useful and meaningful information products Product development that integrates multiple types of measured and modeled data into higher level products 5

13 System management: System management to oversee operations, identify priorities and ensure routine and reliable delivery of information 3.0 Synthesis of regional build-out plans for observing systems Over the next 10 years, the RAs propose to build on the existing system and accomplishments to develop an integrated system to address priority needs. Planning for the ten-year build-out included several key steps. First, each individual RA developed a plan identifying user needs, products and required assets for their own region. These plans were compared and common elements reviewed and refined with the RAs and U.S. IOOS Program Office staff at a workshop in Portland, Maine in November The resultant information was then synthesized and expanded into the current document identifying priority common elements across the nation as well as unique regional circumstances. A separate component consisted of the independent cost estimate of funding requirements for the ten-year plan for the entire IOOS system, including the federal agencies. The synthesis of the build-out plans will provide important information for the National Ocean Policy Priority Objective, Strengthen and integrate Federal and non-federal ocean observing systems, sensors, data collection platforms, data management, and mapping capabilities into a national system and integrate that system into international observation efforts. (National Ocean Council, 2012). Moreover, the plans will provide the detailed information and rationale to support budget requests and to enumerate the impacts of budget decisions. The plans will also assist in the development of regional gaps analysis that is required by the ICOOS Act. A key step in this process was identification of priority user needs and the assets, services and products needed to meet those needs. Each RA conducted this evaluation separately, but coordinated their efforts to enhance comparability. The RAs, the IOOS Association (formerly National Federation of Regional Associations (NFRA)) and the U.S. IOOS Program Office developed templates that provided a consistent structure for the plans in advance. User needs, and products and services to meet those needs, were evaluated via a variety of mechanisms, including multiple years of interactions with regional users, stakeholder advisory panels, workshops targeted on specific issues and user surveys. Plans considered the variables, platforms, sensors, models, data management and product development required to meet user needs and to transform components into an effective integrated observing system. Federal assets are not enumerated in the regional plans, although data from them is, and will continue to be, incorporated into RA products. The 11 regional plans were then analyzed to identify priority categories of user needs and products, and to identify the assets needed to meet those needs. The approach identifies the 6

14 many priority elements that the RAs have in common, while recognizing that unique attributes of each region also require attention to additional custom products and services. In addition to laying out a vision for a fully operational system in 10 years, the comparison and synthesis can facilitate synergism among the RA efforts to develop products while preserving unique regional qualities. The sections below describe the basic components of the build-out plans developed by the regions, including user needs and products and the assets required to meet those needs. Regional systems depend on federal observations and strong partnerships with federal agencies, supplemented by assets from state and local governments, the private sector and academics, to deliver products and services. The synthesis of the regional build-out plans provides a basis for discussion with these partners to refine technical and functional requirements, identify appropriate leads and complementary roles for meeting user and system needs in the next phase of coastal IOOS. 4.0 User needs over the next 10 years Assumptions of the planning process Plan represents a joint vision of common needs among regions Many partners will be involved in the buildout over the next 10 years Additional discussions with partners and expert teams will be needed to refine technical and functional requirements, determine appropriate leads, etc. Existing federal observing assets will be sustained at current operating levels Individual regions will have additional unique product needs and asset requirements beyond the common elements identified here The build out plans represent what the RAs determine to be the needs in the next decade Users of coastal IOOS include a broad spectrum of federal, state and local agencies, private industry, nonprofit organizations and the public. Users include mariners who need access to the latest sea state conditions, fishermen who are planning their days at sea, resource managers who need definitive ecological trends and risk factors; federal agency personnel who need data for modeling and prediction; emergency managers who need forecasts and predictions to protect public health and safety; and the general public who want to plan for coastal activities, recreation and tourism. Five main themes of uses for coastal IOOS information are a) marine operations, b) coastal, beach and nearshore hazards, c) water quality, d) ecosystems and fisheries and e) long-term change and decadal variability. These broad themes and the specific user needs associated with them were defined through many years of interactions of the RAs with users in their regions and nationwide. User needs and required products and services were assessed over the years through a variety of means, including targeted user workshops, stakeholder advisory committees, surveys, and ongoing one-on-one interactions with users. For each of the key themes in the subsections below, the users' goals and/or decisions that could benefit from ocean information are identified, along with the type of information needed, and the product or service that U.S. IOOS and its partners could provide to meet that need. The user needs and common products and services that will be provided in all the regions after a 10-year implementation period are summarized in the tables below. 7

15 The RAs may not necessarily be the lead in developing and delivering all the products summarized in this document. This document defines the needs of the users and outlines the products and observing system assets that are required to meet those needs. An estimate of the associated costs is being developed concurrently in a separate document. A next step in the planning process will require discussions with federal and state agencies, academia, industry and other partners on how to best coordinate activities, leverage resources and develop implementation plans refining the technical and functional requirements for fulfilling these needs. 4.1 Products serving multiple user needs IOOS provides historical and real-time data and predictions for a variety of key variables, which can then be customized and packaged into the diverse set of products required by an array of users. The descriptions in Sections 5-8 below describe 27 common products organized by broad themes and targeted to specific user groups, such as the shipping industry, coastal emergency response managers, etc. However, the underlying data sources and model outputs for a number of these products are similar (Fig. 4.1). The ability to use core data sources and model outputs as a basis for multiple targeted products greatly improves the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of the IOOS system. Figure 4.1. Examples of core IOOS products applicable to multiple user needs 8

16 For example, wind, wave and current nowcasts 1 and forecasts are critical products required by the shipping industry for safe navigation, federal and state agencies for oil spill response, the U. S. Coast Guard (USCG) for offshore search and rescue, coastal communities preparing for storm surges, and industry and agencies to evaluate offshore energy operations. Scientists and managers also use them to enhance ecosystem management through understanding of biological distributions and the connectivity between habitats. Other critical basic products such as longterm climatologies (historical average conditions), of wind, wave and currents, and real-time maps of surface currents also help meet the needs of a variety of users. However, various refinements are often necessary in spatial and temporal scale, timing of information delivery, formatting, packaging and distribution of the products to meet the targeted needs of specific types of users. 5.0 Marine operations Commercial and recreational boating safety, efficient shipping and cruising, informed and efficient offshore renewable energy production, effective rescue operations and spill responses are key aspects of maritime operations. These operations impact human health and the economic vitality of the country. For example, more than 95% of U.S. overseas trade occurs by ship, providing bulk transport of raw materials and import/export of affordable food and manufactured goods. Commercial and recreational mariners, as well as the USCG require information on sea, Great Lakes, and marine weather conditions. RAs have provided real-time conditions on websites and via NOAA weather radio and other information portals, as well as model solutions that interpolate conditions between observations and forecast changes over time, to provide users with information exactly where and when they need it. Observations and modeling from the RAs can be used to supplement the coverage and enhance the resolution of NOAA s Physical Oceanographic Real-time System (PORTS ). Over the coming 10 years, the RAs will expand and deliver a suite of targeted products and services for marine operations, in coordination with federal partners (Table 5.1). 5.1 Vessels Safe and efficient coast and ocean transit and operations is a key aspect for commercial shipping operations, fishing, recreational boaters, as well as for public transportation such as ferries and cruise ships. The safe and efficient operation of commercial shipping and fishing, and recreational boating and fishing requires that mariners have access to reliable, accurate real-time observations of weather and ocean conditions through a variety of communication technologies including the internet, cell phones, and radio. Accurate, real-time information on ocean and weather conditions across broad regions can help meet this goal by informing decisions such as scheduling of operations or choice of optimal routes to take advantage of preferred conditions or avoid dangerous ones. IOOS observations of present conditions and models are used to develop key products such as nowcasts and forecasts for the oceans, coasts and Great Lakes describing winds, waves, currents, 1 numerical simulations of actual conditions that fill gaps in existing data 9

17 USER NEED/GOAL PRODUCTS/SERVICES KEY VARIABLES/ DATA STREAM MARINE OPERATIONS Vessels Safe and efficient coast and ocean transit and operations-- shipping, fishing, recreation, ferries, etc.--includes scheduling and routes Safe passage into and inside ports, harbors, marinas, passages--scheduling, routes, keel clearance, pilot boarding decisions, port status Search and Rescue Improved search and rescue efforts, including efficiency and safety of operations Spill Planning and Response Rapid effective response to spills or floatable debris, including decisions re type and location of containment efforts, clean up and wildlife rescue. Determine origin. Nowcasts and forecasts with visualization tools for coast and open ocean, Great Lakes Nowcasts and forecasts with visualization tools near and in major ports, harbors, passages Hindcasts, nowcasts and forecasts for visualizations, modeling and delivery into tactical SAR decision tools Hindcasts, nowcasts and forecasts formatted and delivered to NOAA OR&R spill modelers and responders Spill trajectory tools as requested by users for spills not covered by OR&R, e.g. small spills, some contaminants, planning and drills Near real-time offshore wind, wave, currents, temperature (air and sea), atmospheric visibility, bathymetry, AIS vessel tracking, navigation charts Above variables but at higher resolution for nearshore and harbors, plus water level and water density Near real-time wind, wave, surface and subsurface currents, temperature (air and sea), atmospheric visibility and cloud cover Near real-time winds, waves, surface and subsurface currents and water density Same as above Offshore Energy Assess conditions for feasibility and costeffectiveness of energy generation; compare alternative locations Maximize efficiency and safety of energy operations Satellite imagery and contaminant maps to further define and track spills Climatologies historical conditions Nowcasts and forecasts Synthetic aperture radar; oil and contaminant distributions throughout water column Historical wind at various elevations, wave and/or currents Near real-time winds, waves, currents Evaluate potential impact of energy facility on coastal processes, wildlife, and other ocean users for permit review Predictions of impacts Table 5.1 Products to meet user needs for marine operations Acoustics, wave fields, sediment transport, nutrients, habitats, wildlife distribution, migratory pathways, etc. 10

18 temperature and visibility. These must be supplemented by visualization tools combining observations and forecasts with bathymetry, navigation charts and Automatic Identification System (AIS) tracking of vessels. Such information is also important for safe passage as vessels prepare to enter or transit constrained regions such as ports, harbors, marinas or narrow passages. Ocean and weather information at these small spatial scales is needed to inform decisions about optimal scheduling, keel clearance and loads, pilot boarding and port status designations. Information needed in and near these regions includes high-resolution bathymetry and real-time observations and models of waves, surface and subsurface currents, winds, visibility, water level, and water density. Information should be available through a variety of communication technologies including Internet, cell phone, and radio. Output and distribution of data and models should be packaged to take full advantage of existing information channels already utilized by mariners, to streamline access and promote broad use. Specific distribution channels may evolve over time, but currently include PORTS, e-navigation, AIS and Portable Pilot Units. Key regional partners in product evaluation, packaging and distribution include the USCG, NOAA, port safety forums, tug and pilot associations, port and harbor authorities, state marine trade associations, and commercial and recreational fishing organizations. 5.2 Search and Rescue The USCG conducts searches for lost, missing, or distressed vessels and persons in the coastal oceans and Great Lakes. Search and rescue and minimizing the loss of life, injury and property damage by rendering aid to the distressed in the maritime environment have always been a Coast Guard priority. For effective and timely search and rescue operations, the USCG requires specific information on winds, currents, and a host of other variables. The USCG uses a Decision Support Tool (DST) known as the Search and Rescue Optimal Planning System (SAROPS) for planning search and rescue operations. SAROPS uses a sophisticated animated grid model to project how floating persons or objects might move, and to determine the location and size of a search area. The IOOS RAs provide critical environmental data to SAROPS. The USCG estimates that search areas can be reduced by as much as two-thirds over a 96-hour period if the SAROPS system is linked to surface current data and forecasts of currents, thereby leading to greater number of lives saved and significantly reducing search costs (U.S. IOOS Program, 2011a). In addition to providing data directly to SAROPS, the RAs also support search and rescue via other modes and products when state and local groups mount efforts in situations where the USCG is not available. Key IOOS products needed for search and rescue are hindcasts, nowcasts and forecasts of winds, waves, surface and subsurface currents, temperature, visibility and cloud cover. Information on these variables should be packaged for direct visualizations, modeling and delivery into tactical DSTs such as SAROPS. Surface currents, as measured by high frequency (HF) radars are a key 11

19 component of IOOS information delivered into SAROPS. The 10-year plan envisions building on the successful use of this variable by providing more complex operational numerical ocean models that incorporate ocean circulation, waves, and winds into SAR decisions. 5.3 Spill response Spills of oil, hazardous materials and debris have the potential to cause widespread ecological damage and broad economic impacts, and threaten human health. Spill response personnel (including from federal, state, and local agencies) require up-to-date and reliable information and forecasts that will allow rapid response to minimize adverse effects and assist in monitoring spill impact. Effective response involves decisions regarding type and location of containment efforts, cleanup and wildlife rescue. Evaluations may also be needed to determine where the spill, tar balls, or debris originated, to assist with diagnosis and containment. Archived information that can describe historical background and ambient conditions is important for damage assessment to determine the extent of impacts. Key regional partners in spill response include NOAA s Office of Response and Restoration (OR&R), the USCG, the EPA and state environmental protection agencies. These managers need information on spill location, size and extent in three dimensions (surface and subsurface), direction and speed of oil or other spill movement, and predictions of drift and dispersion to limit the damage by a spill and facilitate cleanup efforts. IOOS products to assist in meeting these needs include hindcasts, nowcasts and forecasts of winds, waves, currents and water density. In the Gulf of Mexico Deepwater Horizon oil spill, IOOS and its partners were able to deploy underwater gliders to the Gulf to assist with subsurface monitoring and provided model and HF radar information to the response teams. IOOS will need to work with partners to ensure appropriate packaging and delivery mechanisms for these basic products dependent on the type and extent of the spill. During major oil spills, the USCG serves as the Federal On Scene Coordinator for spill response, NOAA is designated to provide the Scientific Support Coordinator (SSC) and NOAA s OR&R staffs the SSCs with oceanographers, modelers, chemists, and biologists available 24 hours a day. During an oil spill, the primary Decision Support Tool for evaluating potential trajectories is currently the General NOAA Oil Modeling Environment (GNOME), although other models are under development. GNOME forecasts spill trajectories based upon the best wind and ocean circulation forecasts available at the time of the response. For major spills, RA data should be formatted and delivered for use by OR&R modelers. However, not all spills are addressed by OR&R, and other users and distribution pathways are needed for some spills. For example, NOAA does not officially respond to oil spills until formally requested by the USCG. Therefore, the GNOME model as implemented by NOAA is generally not used in small oil spills, oil spill drills, or in pre-staging equipment in advance of an oil spill. Visualizations of currents, and spill trajectory models are needed for application to these types of cases, and for spills of contaminants other than oil. Additional imagery and maps are needed beyond this basic set of inputs and models. Satellite imagery can assist in further defining the location and extent of the spill, although operational 12

20 use during spill response may be limited by low spatial resolution, slow revisit times and delays in receiving processed images. Subsurface oil distributions and other water quality measurements are also needed to fully understand and track spills and their impacts. 5.4 Offshore energy Exploration for offshore energy has accelerated in recent years, and may be a primary source of energy for the nation for many decades. The term offshore energy is used here to describe all forms of energy derived from the sea including oil and gas, as well as marine renewable energy sources such waves, tides, currents, and winds. A wide range of information is needed to support wise ocean energy development, and the information must be available to diverse agencies and public and private groups involved in decision-making. These include various federal agencies such as the BOEM, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), USACE, NOAA and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFW), energy developers, and state energy, coastal zone and environmental managers. U.S. IOOS products on past patterns of wind, wave and current conditions are needed to evaluate the feasibility and cost-effectiveness of various forms of energy facilities and to compare alternative locations. Maps and monitoring of acoustics, wave fields, sediment transport, nutrients, habitats, wildlife distribution and migratory pathways are needed to evaluate the potential impact of proposed energy facilities on coastal processes, marine life, and other ocean users for planning and permit processes. Once facilities are approved, built, and operating, real-time information and forecasts of wind, wave and current conditions are needed to maximize efficiency and safety of energy operations. 5.5 Regional differences in information needs Although there are many common elements of ocean information needed to support marine operations, there are also additional elements unique to individual regions. Marine operations in regions may vary due to differences in climate, geography, population sizes and industrial uses. For example, a key issue for the Alaska Ocean Observing System (AOOS) is the need to provide vessels information on current conditions and forecasts for floating ice. As Arctic sea ice retreats, and northern oceanic passages stay open for longer periods, more vessels are passing through Alaska waters. These vessels take shipments to international destinations, as well as supporting increased economic development in western and northern Alaska and recreational tours of the Arctic. Highly mobile broken ice continues to be problematic especially for vessels in transit. AOOS will explore using ice radars, bottom mounted ice thickness sonars and numerical modeling to develop a sea ice trajectory nowcast/forecast as an aid to vessels working in the Arctic. An example of how geographic differences can lead to additional priorities is evident when examining marine operations in PacIOOS, a region of small islands separated from the continents by vast stretches of open ocean. A priority under such conditions is development of an optimal ship routing tool that can evaluate how current, wave and wind conditions affect vessel speed, fuel efficiency and safety over long open ocean transits. 13

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