Bi-Weekly Report 
March 8, 2016

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At the Agencies

On February 25, NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer began a series of expeditions to explore America's vast marine protected areas in the central and western Pacific Ocean. Scientists will use unmanned remotely operated vehicles, or ROVs, that can dive down 3.7 miles to explore never-before-seen deepwater habitats and minerals, marine animals, and potentially, a World War II aircraft carrier. The dives will be broadcast live from the seafloor, allowing anyone with Internet access to watch in real-time. 

Safe offshore operations, increased transparency of the permitting process, and appropriate environmental reviews are top priorities for both the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) and the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE).  Consistent with two settlement agreements filed on January 29 in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, in connection with lawsuits regarding compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, and the Coastal Zone Management Act, the bureaus are jointly announcing a Notice of Availability of a Draft Programmatic Environmental Assessment for well stimulation treatments offshore California.
Agricultural runoff resulted in impaired biological conditions and failure to attain ammonia standards in a tributary of Indiana's Emma Creek. As a result, the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) listed the Emma Creek tributary on the Clean Water Act section 303(d) list in 2002. Numerous partners implemented best management practices (BMPs) throughout the Emma Creek watershed, resulting in decreased pollutant runoff. This has resulted in improved water quality in Emma Creek. 
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Through the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management's upgraded  Environmental Studies Program Information System, hosted by NOAA's   Digital Coast, users can access data that can provide critical information for ocean plans and decisions that can help support a data-driven economy."Our two agencies partnered on this tool update because it advances a mutual goal-making ocean-related science as accessible as possible," says Dave Stein, a geographer with the   NOAA Office for Coastal Management. "These studies are important to people involved in ocean conservation, species protection, sand and gravel management for coastal restoration, oil and gas development, offshore renewable energy, shipping and fishing industries, and other sectors."
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In the News

Damages from extreme events like floods are even more relevant than the mean sea level itself when it comes to the costs of climate impacts for coastal regions. A team of scientists now provides a method to quantify monetary losses from coastal floods under sea-level rise. For the first time, the scientists show that the damage costs consistently increase at a higher rate than the sea-level rise itself.

An underwater research craft has spotted a "ghostlike" octopus that appears to belong to a previously unknown species at a depth of more than two miles (3 km) on the floor of the Pacific Ocean near Hawaii, U.S. scientists say. The milky white creature, nicknamed "Casper the Friendly Ghost" by Twitter users, was caught on cameras mounted on the craft at a depth of 4,290 meters, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said. Describing the animal as an incirrate octopod, one of two main groupings of octopods, NOAA said it was the first time an incirrate was spotted so deep in the ocean.
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Doing a better job of assessing the health of coral reefs is a vital task for ensuring the health of our entire planet, but scientists have struggled to find effective ways to do that. Now a team of researchers at the University of North Carolina Wilmington has developed a prototype diagnostic device that we think will make a huge difference in this essential branch of marine science.
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In the States and Regions 
East Coast 

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is working to protect St. Johns County's shoreline communities from erosion damage, and needs the public's input to do it. The Jacksonville District is working with state and county coastal managers on a study about the threat of shoreline erosion along some of the county's beach communities. The county identified areas experiencing critical shoreline erosion, and the project team is now further studying those areas.
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Sen. Chris Coons is pushing for federal officials to set aside extra money for replenishing Delaware's beaches that were hardest hit by recent winter storms.
Bethany Beach, South Bethany and Fenwick Island took big hits from large ocean waves last fall and earlier this year, but aren't scheduled for federal sand pumping until 2017.
Coons urged Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works Jo-Ellen Darcy during a hearing on Capitol Hill Wednesday (March 2) to move up the replenishment schedule for those communities.
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Gulf Coast 

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Galveston District will receive new feasibility funding for the Houston Ship Channel and Coastal Texas studies; continued funding for the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway, Brazos River Flood Gates and Colorado River Locks as well as the Matagorda Ship Channel widening and deepening; construction funding for Addicks and Barker dams in Houston, and continued Operation and Maintenance funding for the Texas waterways in the president's fiscal year 2017 budget for the Corps' Civil Works program. "The President's Budget for FY17 reflects federal priorities for managing vital water resources in coastal Texas," said Col. Richard Pannell, USACE Galveston District commander.

West Coast and Pacific Islands 
Despite being one of Hawaii's most iconic beaches, many visitors don't know Waikiki Beach is actually an engineered beach that has been filled with imported sand for decades. Waikiki has been facing erosion problems for years, so Hawaii lawmakers are pushing a bill to restore it.  The bill originally asked for $1.5 million to make a plan to fill a portion of the beach where erosion has left it almost entirely gone. It would also give money to design a path along the shoreline for pedestrians and bicyclists. 

The Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, agreed to reconsider its preliminary mapping of some Island County areas as subject to flooding. The concession, made by FEMA Engineer Ted Perkins during a work session with the county commissioners, apparently eliminates the county's need to undertake expensive studies of every remapped parcel that it disagrees now faces a flood hazard.

Great Lakes

State lawmakers are preparing to dole out capital improvements money, providing state money for projects across Ohio.  Each lawmaker has been invited to submit a "wish list" of projects.  It's unlikely that all of the projects will be funded, or that projects that are funded will get all of the money that is requested, said state Sen. Randy Gardner, R-Bowling Green.

The New York Department of Environmental Conservation is collecting input from local groups associated with the Great Lakes. Shannon Dougherty is the Great Lakes Watershed Coordinator for the DEC. She says they're holding meetings with work groups throughout the region, and including environmentalists, landowners, and representatives from local government.
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Announcements & More   

NOAA announces additional community resilience grants totaling $4.5 million.

Grants are being used to fund projects that are helping coastal communities prepare for and recover from extreme weather events, climate hazards, and changing ocean conditions. The focus is on comprehensive regional approaches that use science-based solutions and rely on collaborative partnerships to ensure success.
Twelve projects were chosen (six use federal funds from 2015; six more were funded from the 2016 budget). The federal funding total is $9 million with an additional $5 million in matching support. (Projects supported with fiscal year 2016 funds are subject to approval and award by NOAA's Grants Management Division.)
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Climate Change Impacts on Water Resources Training - EPA has released Understanding Climate Change Impacts on Water Resources, an online training module developed for water resource professionals to provide information on climate change and its potential impacts to water resources.  

The NOAA Restoration Center's Community-based Restoration Program just released a federal funding opportunity (FFO) for Coastal and Marine Habitat Restoration grants.
The CRP FFO has been posted to   The deadline for applications is April 6, 2016. 

Attend the world movie premiere of "Dispatches From The Gulf" on March 25th. The film investigates the aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon disaster. Featuring teams of scientists exploring the oil spill's effect on the Gulf of Mexico, their collective studies have become the largest coordinated oceanographic research endeavor in history.
Underwater Acoustics Webinar for the International Regulatory Community: Potential Effects of Underwater Sound on Marine Mammals. On Wednesday,March 16, 2016, at 12:00 pm (U.S. East Coast time)Interested individuals must register in advance for this webinar. To register please visit:

OneNOAA Science Seminars, 2016
Title: The Blue Carbon Potential of Living Shorelines
Date & Time: March 9, 2016 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm ET

Title: New York Opens the Gates on Geospatial Information used in Regional Marine Planning

Date & Time: March 17, 2016 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm ET 

Title: Coastal Erosion and Shoreline Conservation Practices in Maryland - Walking that Fine Line between Shoreline Protection and Habitat Enhancement
Date & Time: March 22, 2016 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm ET  
Seminars are open to the public. For remote access, location, abstracts and more, visit the OneNOAA Science Seminar Calendar at: 

Seminars are posted in Eastern Time and subject to changes without notice; please check the web page for the latest seminar updates.   



The Voice of the Coastal States and Territories on Ocean, Coastal & Great Lakes Affairs