GCOOS News and Updates for November 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 

New Red Tide Research Findings Support Sustained Funding for Coastal Observing Systems in the Gulf of Mexico
   Expanded coastal monitoring systems could protect public health and coastal economies from red tide, Gulf organization says a new special issue of the journal Harmful Algae that compiles five years of research studies about red tide in the Gulf of Mexico recommends state and federal funding support to maintain and expand the ability to predict and track the movements of these harmful algal blooms.
   Red tides occur naturally in the Gulf of Mexico. They're caused by a higher-than-usual concentration of Karenia brevis, a microscopic organism with toxins that can kill fish and other marine species, make shellfish toxic and cause respiratory illness in humans. Blooms typically begin 10-40 miles offshore and, when they move into coastal zones, can significantly impact human health and cause millions of dollars in economic losses to coastal regions.
   Dr. Cynthia Heil, Senior Research Scientist at Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences in Maine (and formerly of FWC's Fish and Wildlife Research Institute) co-edited the special issue of Harmful Algae and was lead author in the paper recommending sustained and increased funding for monitoring. "This special issue of Harmful Algae really explores the complexities of the K. brevis organism, its environment and the difficulties associated with predicting the initiation and movements of blooms. Right now, we have few options for controlling or reducing red tide blooms, so we have to focus on how we can help communities mitigate the impacts. But we can't get coastal residents prepared if we don't know where red tides are, if they are moving or when they might impact a particular area. That's why coastal ocean observing systems are so important."
   For ten years, members of the Gulf of Mexico Coastal Ocean Observing System Regional Association (GCOOS-RA) have been developing, deploying, and maintaining instrumentation that has helped uncover many of the new findings reported in Harmful Algae about K. brevis. "But more needs to be done," said Dr. Barbara Kirkpatrick, Executive Director of the GCOOS-RA.
   "Thanks to research conducted by organizations like FWC's research institute, Mote Marine Laboratory, the University of South Florida, and many other institutions, we know much more about how red tides form and the nutrient sources needed to maintain them," Kirkpatrick said. "We're now at the point where operational forecasts about bloom movements are being made. That's really a huge milestone and an important step in allowing coastal communities to prepare for red tides. However, our monitoring capabilities are still very limited in scope."
Photo courtesy USM
   The coastal ocean observing assets now in place in the Gulf of Mexico that are used to predict and monitor for red tide blooms include teams of scientists conducting regular water sampling, research cruises, autonomous underwater vehicles outfitted with red tide detectors, moorings, beach conditions reports, satellite imagery, high-frequency radar (HFR) and the West Florida Coastal Ocean Model. This information is gathered and available at the GCOOS-RA data portal, http://data.gcoos.org/ which has helped researchers at various institutions easily share data and increase their ability to collaborate on research.
   "But these systems don't even cover Florida's entire Gulf Coast, let alone many key areas in other Gulf of Mexico states that can be impacted by blooms," Kirkpatrick said. "The current bloom off Florida's coast is a great example of what our current capabilities are and also showcase what we need." Read more at http://gcoos.tamu.edu/?p=8341

Report Shows a Significant Blue Economy in Mississippi
   A report sponsored by the Mississippi Enterprise for Technology (MSET) and the Marine Technology Society (MTS) documents a strong Blue Economy in the State of Mississippi. After Dr. Judith Kildow's work at the National Ocean Economics Program, the "Blue Economy" refers to a wide range of economic activity based on oceans, seas, harbors, ports, and coastal zones. It is a hot topic and was a primary focus of the recent conference, "6th Annual Blue Tech and Blue Economy Summit", which included keynote speaker, Dr. Holly Bamford, Acting Assistant Secretary for Conservation and Management at NOAA.  
   In Mississippi, the MSET and the University of Southern Mississippi (USM), both GCOOS-RA members, and the local section of MTS, partnered to conduct a study of the maritime industry cluster along the MS Gulf coast. MSET and MTS requested that students in the USM Masters of Economic Development program conduct a study of the maritime industry cluster for the MS Gulf Coast as a capstone project. Ashley Edwards and Susie Veglia, Hancock County Port and Harbor Commission and students in the program, conducted the study - Mississippi's Blue Economy: An Analysis of Mississippi's Maritime Commerce with fellow student Kevin Buckley. Assistance was given from USM, MSET and the San Diego Maritime Alliance.
   The team found that the three Mississippi coastal counties have a total workforce of 143,873, and the decipherable maritime industries account for 31,828 of those jobs or 22% of the workforce. Analyses of existing economic data reveal the additional employment impacted by the maritime industries could be as high as 51,031 or 35% of the entire coastal workforce. The team also found that MS has an under-employed workforce and many training resources in the State, which offer great potential for further economic growth. http://gcoos.tamu.edu/?p=8324

Everglades National Park Data Now Available from the GCOOS Data Portal
Data from the Everglades National Park (ENP) water quality monitoring network are now harvested by GCOOS on an hourly basis. In total, some fifty-seven sensors from 28 stations were added to the GCOOS Data Portal. All stations collect water level, salinity and water temperature information. The station in Whipray Basin (WRBF1) also measures wind speed and direction. An average of about 409 new daily records are added to the GCOOS Data Portal from the Everglades National Park stations. GCOOS is now monitoring and serving data for a total of 1,877 sensors from 314 stations in the Gulf of Mexico. Go to http://data.gcoos.org

Texas Accepting Proposals for RESTORE Center of Excellence - Due 17 November 2014

The State of Texas, through the Texas Council on Environmental Quality, is accepting receiving proposals to establish a RESTORE Center of Excellence. See the Request for Grant Applications at
GCOOS at St. Pete Science Festival
Since the inception of the St. Petersburg Science Festival in 2011, the GCOOS-RA has participated in both the Sneak-Peek Day for Florida's Pinellas and Hillsborough County students, and the public open house that draws more than 20,000 visitors. On 17 October 2014, GCOOS Outreach and Education Manager, Dr. Chris Simoniello, and Executive Director, Dr. Barb Kirkpatrick, conducted hands-on activities to teach G4-5 students about coastal radar technology and its applications in oceanography. More than 150 students from 10 schools used lasers to simulate radio wave transmissions and Bragg backscattering, learned how the Doppler Effect is used to determine the direction and velocities of ocean currents, and tested their newly acquired knowledge with a team challenge game. Activities were designed to be a fun way to support experiential learning in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) disciplines, aligned to Florida State and national education standards. For the public event on 18 October, GCOOS collaborated with SECOORA and the University of South Florida (USF) in a show of U.S. IOOS interoperability. Simoniello and Kirkpatrick joined forces with SECOORA's Vembu Subramanian (Data Manager) and Abbey Wakely (Communications Specialist), Chad Lembke, USF Center for Ocean Technology (COT) and GCOOS Gulf Glider Task Team Chair, and Jay Law, USF Coastal Ocean Monitoring and Prediction Lab, to showcase regional observations and applications. Courtesy of USF's Law and Lembke, a 3-meter disc buoy and COT's autonomous underwater vehicle Murphy, respectively, were on hand and drew high media and visitor attention. The GCOOS-RA was also pleased to host a joint exhibit with partner Bay Point Elementary (BPE) School. The Science, Math, Technology and Foreign Language magnet school has collaborated with GCOOS on numerous education projects, including a joint Duke Energy grant to bring water quality monitoring capabilities to their GK-5 students. Assistant Principal Barbara Hawkins and Assistant Principal/Magnet Coordinator Sara DePerro, along with BPE students and parents, shared information on the many STEM projects underway at the school and in partnership with GCOOS. http://gcoos.tamu.edu/?p=8288

GCOOS at Spooky Science Festival
Little ghosts, goblins and witches were out en masse on 24 October 2014, to enjoy Bay Point Elementary (BPE) School's annual Fall Festival. For the 2nd year, the GCOOS-RA partnered with the BPE Parent Teacher Association and hosted Spooky Science at the festival. Dr. Chris Simoniello, GCOOS Outreach and Education Manager, coordinated the Spooky Science event that offered a dozen free, hands-on activities to students and their families. Serving a population where more than 60% of the students are on free or reduced lunch, the GCOOS-RA is working to offer enrichment opportunities to support the science, math and technology focus of this magnet school, located in St. Petersburg, FL. Attesting to the power of strong GCOOS-RA partnerships, Simoniello was able to entrain high caliber subject matter experts to interact with the students. Among them are Dr. Anna Sz�kely, post-doctoral student in the lab of Dr. Mya Breibart at the University of South Florida (USF); Dr. Monica Wilson, Sea Grant Oil Spill Science Specialist; Jen Cannizzaro, Ocean Optics Lab, USF; Luisa Walsh, Duke Energy; Greta Klungness, Mad Science; and chemical oceanographer Dr. Audra Ames. Also challenging students with fun, hands-on activities were faculty from Bay Point Middle School's Center for Advancement of the Sciences and Technology (CAST) Magnet Program, staff from McMannis Aftercare Program, BPE teachers, and volunteers from Boyd Hill Nature Preserve. More than 250 GK-5 students participated in science activities that ranged from building buoyant sampling platforms to identifying mesopelagic lantern fish. http://gcoos.tamu.edu/?p=8317

NOAA RESTORE Draft Science Plan Open for Comment - Due 15 December 2014
   The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has released for public comment a draft version of the science plan for the NOAA RESTORE Act Science Program. The plan establishes ten long-term research priorities, which will guide how the program will invest its funds and explains how prior needs assessments for the Gulf of Mexico region and earlier stakeholder input was used to determine these areas of investment. The plan also provides additional information on how the program will be administered and how the program will work with partners.
   Continued input from stakeholders is important to the success of the program and you are encouraged to provide feedback on the draft science plan over the 45 day comment period which ends on 15 December 2014. Electronic comments on the draft science plan can be submitted via e-mail (noaarestorescience@noaa.gov). Written comments can be mailed to Dr. Becky Allee; NOAA OCM - Gulf Coast; Bldg. 1100, Rm 232; Stennis Space Center, MS, 39529. The Program will address the input it receives on the plan and anticipates releasing a final version of the science plan in January 2015. See the plan at http://restoreactscienceprogram.noaa.gov/science-plan.

Projects Submitted to the RESTORE Council by the States of Louisiana and Mississippi
   The Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council's (the "RESTORE Council") Comprehensive Plan highlights two primary goals: (1) Restore and Conserve Habitat and (2) Restore Water Quality. The States of LA and MS have both submitted proposals using these goals. Kyle Graham, Executive Director of the LA Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority, gave an overview to Mark Schleifstein of NOLA.com/Times Picayune describing the LA projects submitted to the RESTORE Council and other post-Deepwater Horizon funding sources on 15 October 2014. On 16 October 2014, the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality gave a webinar describing the projects that MS submitted to the RESTORE Council. The projects include: Land Protection and Conservation Program, Voluntary Conservation Enrollment Program, Beneficial Use Program and the Mississippi Sound Estuarine Program. The webinar is available at: http://www.restore.ms/archived-webinar/
   For more information on the RESTORE Council, the comprehensive plan, or the project selection process or to submit comment see www.restorethegulf.gov.

NAS Gulf Research Program Releases Report on Middle-Skilled Workforce Needs
A summary of the Gulf Research Program's June 2014 workshop held in Tampa, FL- Opportunities for the Gulf Research Program: Middle-Skilled Workforce Needs - is now available at http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=18980. This workshop convened 40 leaders from the Gulf region's education, employer, and policymaking communities to facilitate a discussion of the current state of education and training pathways for preparing the region's middle-skilled workforce in both the short- and long-term and to identify perceived needs and potential opportunities that might be addressed by the Program.

BOEM Seeks Suggestions for Environmental Studies Program - Comment by 1 December 2014
   The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) is responsible for ensuring that the effects on the natural and human environment are taken into consideration during the leasing and development of oil, natural gas, renewable energy and marine mineral resources from the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS).
   To help inform management decisions affecting the OCS, BOEM develops, oversees and funds the collection of environmental information as directed by the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act through its Environmental Studies Program (ESP). The ESP focuses on applied science, including baseline information about the environment and the effects from activities that result from the leasing and development processes under their authority. The goals of the ESP are to establish the information needed to assess, predict and manage environmental impacts on the marine biota, and monitor the human, marine and coastal environments. BOEM is beginning to formulate its FY2016 Environmental Studies Development Plan covering all BOEM energy and minerals activities.
   BOEM invites your input in identifying potential study ideas pertaining to the Alaska, Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico and Pacific OCS planning areas. For more on this program, please see http://www.boem.gov/note11042014/.

BOEM Marine Mammal Monitoring Program in the Gulf - Request for Information by 8 December 2014
The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) is seeking public information and data to support the development of a long-term monitoring plan for marine mammals in the Gulf of Mexico related to geological and geophysical (seismic) survey activities. BOEM will accept comments through December 8, 2014. See the Request for Information in the 7 November 2014 Federal Register.

Florida Institute of Oceanography Accepting Comments on Grants Process for the RESTORE Florida Center of Excellence - Due 1 December, 2014
The Florida Institute of Oceanography is accepting comments on the grants process for the Florida RESTORE Center of Excellence. Complete the online survey from: http://www.fio.usf.edu/research/restore-act

IOOS/National/Legislative News 

Want to Influence the Future Direction of IOOS?  (from 31 October 2014 IOOS Z-Gram).  - Applications for the IOOS Advisory Committee Due 24 November 2014
The IOOS Program is soliciting nominations to the IOOS Advisory Committee (IOOS AC) for Fall 2015. The IOOS AC has been well-served by having members with a variety of perspectives and viewpoints and we encourages the nomination of individuals who would contribute to the diversity and balance of the Committee. NOAA is seeking individuals with expertise in oceanographic data, products, and services; coastal management; fisheries management; coastal and marine spatial planning; geodesy; water levels; and other science-related fields. Please refer to the Federal Register notice for more information. This is also posted on the IOOS website at www.ioos.noaa.gov. If making a nomination for someone else, please affirm whether or not you have some indication as to the candidate's willingness to serve.  

QARTOD QA/QC Manual Available for Wind Data (from 31 October 2014 IOOS Z-Gram)
The Quality Assurance for Real-time Oceanographic Data (QARTOD) manual for wind data is available on the QARTOD website at http://www.ioos.noaa.gov/qartod/wind_data/welcome.html. The website also includes QA/QC manuals for water level, in situ temperature and salinity, dissolved oxygen, in situ surface wave, and surface current data. An article will be published in the MTS Currents in the Nov/Dec 2014 issue.

Funding Opportunities 

Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative RFP for 2016-2018 Individual Investigators - Letter of Interest Deadline: 15 December 2014

NOAA FY2015 Community-based Marine Debris Removal Grant - Due 17 November 2014

This program provides funding to catalyze the implementation of locally-driven, community-based marine debris prevention, assessment, and removal projects that will benefit coastal habitat, waterways, and NOAA trust resources. http://www.habitat.noaa.gov/funding/marinedebris.html

NOAA 2015 Ecological Effects of Sea Level Rise Program - Due 18 November 2014
This program is to improve the management of regional and local ecosystem effects of sea level rise and coastal inundation through targeted research on key technologies, natural and nature-based infrastructure, physical and biological processes, and model evaluation.
EPA Building Blocks for Sustainable Communities Program - Due by 20 November 2014
This opportunity provides quick, targeted technical assistance to selected communities using a variety of tools that have demonstrated results and widespread application. The purpose of delivering these tools is to stimulate a discussion about growth and development and strengthen local capacity to implement sustainable approaches.
NFWF and Wells Fargo 2015 Environmental Solutions for Communities Grant Program - Due 10 December 2014
This opportunity provides funding opportunities to promote sustainable communities by supporting highly-visible projects that link economic development and community well-being to the stewardship and health of the environment.
Call for EPA Gulf Guardian Award Nominations - Due 15 January 2015
The Gulf Guardian Awards were created in 2000 to recognize environmental excellence towards achieving and preserving healthy and resilient coasts in Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas. The Gulf Guardian Awards recognize efforts within the 31 States that comprise the Gulf of Mexico watershed.  The Awards also include Bi-national efforts and recognize successful cooperative projects between the U.S., Mexico and the Caribbean.  The Awards are presented on a Bi-annual basis.  The official categories for nomination are:  Business/Industry, Environmental Justice/Cultural Diversity, Civic and Nonprofit Organizations, Youth Environmental Education, Individual, Partnerships and Bi-national.  First, Second and Third place winners are awarded and presented at a special ceremony.  See http://www.epa.gov/gmpo/.

Current Events and Meetings 


"Bays and Bayous Symposium 2014", 2-3 December 2014, Arthur R. Outlaw Mobile Convention Center, Mobile, AL



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




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



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




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

March 2015

"GCOOS-RA Board of Directors and Members Meeting", 11-13 March 2015. Stennis Space Center, MS.

May 2015

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

 Updates will be available here

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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