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Friday, October 11, 2013

Report finds increases in coastal population growth by 2020 likely, putting more people at risk of extreme weather

March 25, 2013

National Coastal Population Report cover.

National Coastal Population Report cover.

Download here (Credit: NOAA)

If current population trends continue, the already crowded U.S. coast will see population grow from 123 million people to nearly 134 million people by 2020, putting more of the population at increased risk from extreme coastal storms like Sandy and Isaac, which severely damaged infrastructure and property last year.

The projection comes from a new report released today from NOAA with input from the U.S. Census Bureau.

According to the report, which analyzed data from the 2010 census, 39 percent of the U.S. population is concentrated in counties directly on the shoreline -- less than 10 percent of the total U.S. land area excluding Alaska, and that 52 percent of the total population lives in counties that drain to coastal watersheds, less than 20 percent of U.S. land area, excluding Alaska. A coastal watershed is an area in which water, sediments, and dissolved material drain to a common coastal outlet, like a bay or the ocean.

The National Coastal Population Report: Populations Trends from 1970 to 2020, issued in partnership with the U.S. Census Bureau, updates and expands a 2004 report that detailed and projected coastal population trends from 1980 to 2008.

“People who live near the shore, and managers of these coastal communities, should be aware of how this population growth may affect their coastal areas over time,” said Holly Bamford, Ph.D., assistant NOAA administrator for the National Ocean Service. “As more people move to the coast, county managers will see a dual challenge -- protecting a growing population from coastal hazards, as well as protecting coastal ecosystems from a growing population.”

Population density is growing at the coast..

Population density is growing at the coast.

Download here (Credit: NOAA)

This report offers coastal managers and other users, for the first time, two perspectives on population growth along the U.S. coast -- the traditional perspective that looks at status and trends throughout counties that drain to coastal watersheds, called Coastal Watershed Counties, and a newer focus that focuses only on those counties that directly border the coast, including the Great Lakes.

“Understanding the demographic context of coastal areas is vital for our nation and helps us to meet the challenges of tomorrow. To help inform policymakers and the public through this report, the Census Bureau developed a new measure of coastal populations,” said James Fitzsimmons, assistant chief of the Census Bureau's population division.

Coastal population statistics in the overall total of 769 Coastal Watershed Counties provide context for coastal water quality and coastal ecosystem health related issues, and data from the 452 of those counties that lie directly on the shoreline, called Coastal Shoreline Counties, can be used to talk about coastal resilience, coastal hazards, and other ocean-resource dependent issues.

The coastal shoreline county data was developed with input from both the U.S. Census Bureau and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

“Whether you’re talking about watershed counties or shoreline counties, the coast is substantially more crowded than the U.S. as a whole,” said report editor Kristen Crossett of NOAA’s National Ocean Service. “Population density in shoreline counties is more than six times greater than the corresponding inland counties. And the projected growth in coastal areas will increase population density at a faster rate than the country as a whole.”

The report also found that from 1970 to 2010, Coastal Shoreline Counties population increased by 39 percent, and Coastal Watershed Counties population increased by 45 percent.

The report is available on NOAA’s State of the Coast website, which provides quick facts and more detailed statistics through interactive maps, case studies, and management success stories that highlight what is known about coastal communities, coastal ecosystems, and the coastal economy and about how climate change might impact the coast.

NOAA’s mission is to understand and predict changes in the Earth's environment, from the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun, and to conserve and manage our coastal and marine resources. Join us on Facebook, Twitter and our other social media channels.


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Thursday, October 10, 2013

Shipping lanes to be adjusted to protect endangered whales along california coast

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Dec. 27, 2012

Contact:
Sean Hastings, 805-884-1472
Sarah Marquis, 949-222-2212
Shipping Lanes to be Adjusted to Protect
Endangered Whales Along California Coast

Busy shipping lanes off the California coast, including routes that cross three national marine sanctuaries, will be adjusted to protect endangered whales from ship strikes.

Last month, the International Maritime Organization (IMO), which governs shipping worldwide, announced it adopted three proposals deemed necessary to improve navigational safety and to reduce ship strikes on the approach to San Francisco Bay, the Santa Barbara Channel and the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. Vessels in these areas also travel through NOAA's Cordell Bank, Gulf of the Farallones and Channel Islands national marine sanctuaries where blue, humpback and fin whales feed and congregate.

"This is a win-win situation, backed by NOAA research, that allows for enhanced protection of endangered whales and natural resources while at the same time increasing maritime safety," said William J. Douros, west coast regional director of NOAA's Office of National Marine Sanctuaries. "We are pleased with the shipping industry and the IMO's decision to support the proposed amendments."

"The collaboration between NOAA and the Coast Guard in reviewing and modifying these vessel traffic separation schemes demonstrates the strong working relationship between our two agencies," said Rear Admiral Karl Schultz, Eleventh Coast Guard district commander. "The modifications to the traffic lanes balance the safe and efficient flow of commerce within and between our nation's ports, with NOAA's goal of reducing whale strikes from vessels."

Slow-moving whales are highly vulnerable to ship strikes, since many of their feeding and migration areas overlap with shipping lanes. In 2007, four whales (all blue whales) were killed by confirmed or likely ship strikes in and around the Santa Barbara Channel. In 2010, five whales (two blue, one humpback, and two fin whales) were killed by confirmed or likely ship strikes in the San Francisco area and elsewhere along the north-central California coast.

Extending the three lanes in the approach to San Francisco Bay is expected to reduce interactions between ships and whales within Cordell Bank and Gulf of the Farallones national marine sanctuaries. According to the IMO decision, the lane extensions will improve maritime safety in the area by keeping vessels on a dedicated route through prime fishing grounds, which will reduce interaction between fishing vessels and commercial ships.

The proposed vessel lane changes in the Santa Barbara Channel and Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary narrow the overall width of the existing lanes and shift the southbound lane one nautical mile north. This change will move vessels away from an area used by feeding blue and humpback whales.

The vessel lane changes are anticipated to take effect in 2013. Blue, humpback and fin whales are protected by the Endangered Species Act, Marine Mammal Protection Act and National Marine Sanctuaries Act.

In 2007, NOAA's Office of National Marine Sanctuaries worked to shift shipping lanes in Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary, off the coast of Massachusetts. This modification now protects endangered whales in the sanctuary and has reduced the risk of ships striking whales by 81 percent.

NOAA's mission is to understand and predict changes in the Earth's environment, from the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun, and to conserve and manage our coastal and marine resources. Join us on Facebooklink leaves government site, Twitterlink leaves government site and our other social media channels. On the Web:
Sanctuary Ship Strike information
Shift in Stellwagen Bank shipping lanes



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Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Research finds new way to identify which El Niño events will have biggest impact on U.S. winter weather

February 7, 2013

El Niño.

El Niño, warmer than average waters in the Eastern equatorial Pacific (shown in orange on the map), affects weather around the world. A new study, just published in the February 2013 issue of the Journal of Climate, describes an atmospheric El Niño signal that is very strongly associated with U.S. winter weather impacts.

Download here (Credit: NOAA Visualization Lab)

Weather forecasters have long known that El Niño events can throw seasonal climate patterns off kilter, particularly during winter months. Now, new research from NOAA and the University of Washington suggests that a different way to detect El Niño could help forecasters predict the unusual weather it causes.

A network of buoys that spans the Pacific, the TAO-Triton array, observes conditions in the upper ocean and is essential for forecasting El Niño months in advance, and for monitoring it as it grows and decays. A new study, just published in the February issue of the Journal of Climate, describes an atmospheric El Niño signal that is very strongly associated with U.S. winter weather impacts. Ed Harrison, Ph.D. of the NOAA Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory in Seattle and Andrew Chiodi, Ph.D., of the NOAA Joint Institute for the Study of the Atmosphere and Ocean at the University of Washington, co-authored the paper.

“When it comes to El Niño’s weather impacts, we are always looking for ways to improve our forecasting skill,” said Harrison. “Our goal is to extract the most useful information to predict El Niño seasonal weather anomalies.”

Harrison and Chiodi looked at all El Niño events that were identified by sea surface temperature measurements since 1979. They then examined satellite imagery for these events and found that a subset of the events showed a sharp dip in heat radiating from the tops of deep convective clouds, an indicator known as outgoing long-wave radiation or OLR. When comparing the El Niño events to historical weather records, the scientists found that the El Niño events with drops in OLR were the ones most likely to play havoc with winter weather.

They also found that El Niño events with no corresponding drop in OLR did not produce statistically significant anomalies in weather patterns. The dip in heat from deep convective clouds usually occurred before winter, so the timing of the signal could help forecasters improve winter seasonal outlooks, the scientists said.

“By sorting El Niño events into two categories, one with OLR changes and one without, forecasters may be able to produce winter seasonal outlooks with more confidence than previously thought possible,” Harrison said.

El Niño refers to a warming of waters along the equator in the Eastern Pacific Ocean. Through its influence on the atmosphere, El Niño shifts tropical rainfall patterns which causes further shifts in weather around the globe, including milder winters in western Canada and parts of the northern United States and wetter winters in the some southern states.

Industry sectors from energy and construction to transportation and tourism are keenly interested in how El Niño will affect their costs. El Niño-influenced weather can affect fuel oil demand, travel delays, and retail sales. Better accuracy in El Niño predictions could help industry to prepare for its impacts more efficiently.

NOAA’s mission is to understand and predict changes in the Earth's environment, from the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun, and to conserve and manage our coastal and marine resources. Join us on Facebook, Twitter and our other social media channels at social media channels.



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Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Polar-orbiting satellite retires

April 10, 2013

POES Satellite in orbit.

After nearly 11 years of helping the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) predict weather and climate patterns and save lives in search and rescue operations, NOAA announced today it has turned off the NOAA-17 Polar-Orbiting Environmental Satellite (POES). It was one of NOAA's longest operating spacecraft, which have a typical lifespan of three years.This Image is from the last operational morning orbit of NOAA-17 on May 26, 2007.
Download here. (Credit: NOAA)

After nearly 11 years of helping the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) predict weather and climate patterns and save lives in search and rescue operations, NOAA announced today it has turned off the NOAA-17 Polar-Orbiting Environmental Satellite (POES). It was one of NOAA's longest operating spacecraft, which have a typical lifespan of three years. The shutdown will result in no data gap, as NOAA-17 was being used as a back-up satellite and was removed from service after several key systems on board became inoperable.

NOAA will continue operating several POES spacecraft – NOAA-15, NOAA-16, NOAA-18 and NOAA-19 – in addition to the nation’s newest polar-orbiting satellite, Suomi NPP, launched October 28, 2011. NOAA’s POES spacecraft fly a lower, pole to pole orbit capturing atmospheric data from space that feed NOAA’s weather and climate prediction models.

NOAA began the deactivation process of NOAA-17 on February 18, with the final shut down occurring today. Launched in June 2002, NOAA-17 made 55,000 orbits of the globe, traveling more than 1.5 billion miles while collecting huge amounts of valuable temperature, moisture and image data.

“NOAA-17 helped our forecasters see the early development of severe weather from tornadoes and snow storms to hurricanes, including the busiest hurricane season on record - 2005. It also tracked subtle changes in the environment that signaled the onset of drought and wildfire conditions,” said Mary Kicza, assistant administrator of NOAA’s Satellite and Information Service. “NOAA-17’s long life is a credit to the engineers who built and operated it and the technology that sustained it. Although we say farewell to NOAA-17, we still operate a dependable fleet of satellites that continue to provide crucial data.”

NOAA-17 was part of the international Search and Rescue Satellite-Aided Tracking (SARSAT) network of satellites. SARSAT, which began in 1982, has rescued more than 33,000 people worldwide, including more than 7,000 in the United States and its surrounding waters by detecting distress signals from emergency beacons.

Deactivating NOAA-17 also heralds a significant change for polar-orbiting satellite operations worldwide with NOAA now exclusively flying afternoon orbit spacecraft while its key international partner, the European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites (EUMETSAT), flies mid-morning orbit spacecraft. This results in significant savings for U.S. taxpayers, because sharing data helps produce more accurate and uniform data for forecasters. Through the Initial Joint Polar System agreement, NOAA and EUMETSAT established a shared satellite system by exchanging instruments and coordinating the operations of their polar-orbiting satellites to provide operational meteorological and environmental forecasting and global climate monitoring services worldwide. 

NOAA and its partners at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) are continuing to build the next generation of polar-orbiting satellites, the Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS), which is scheduled to launch the JPSS-1 satellite in 2017.

NOAA’s JPSS represents significant technological and scientific advances for more accurate weather forecasting, helping build a Weather Ready Nation — saving lives and property, while promoting economic prosperity. JPSS provides continuity for critical observations of our vast atmosphere, oceans, land, and cryosphere — the frozen areas of the above planet. NOAA, working in partnership with NASA, ensures an unbroken series of global data for monitoring and forecasting environmental phenomena and understanding our Earth.

NOAA’s mission is to understand and predict changes in the Earth's environment, from the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun, and to conserve and manage our coastal and marine resources. Join us on Facebook, Twitter and our other social media channels.


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Monday, October 7, 2013

Partners deploy underwater robots to improve hurricane science

September 9, 2013

A fleet of underwater robots is descending into waters off the east coast to collect data that could help improve storm intensity forecasts during future hurricane seasons. Several regions of the NOAA-led U.S. Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS®) are partnering to deploy 12 to 16 autonomous underwater robotic vehicles, also known as gliders, from Nova Scotia to Georgia.  

The gliders will be available through the peak fall Atlantic storm season to collect data on ocean conditions, which will help improve scientists’ understanding of hurricanes and pave the way for future improvements in hurricane intensity forecasts.  

“When storms are moving along our coasts, lives depend on accurate forecasts,” said Zdenka Willis, U.S. IOOS program director. “The unmanned gliders will allow us to collect data even in the middle of the storm and eventually provide this information to NOAA’s National Weather Service to help improve forecast precision so decision makers can keep people safe.”

Scientists will deploy the first gliders in the fleet in early September and continue deploying from different locations throughout the next two to three weeks. Each glider will be deployed for three to eight weeks, collecting data into October.

The underwater gliders can travel thousands of miles and continuously collect and send back ocean data. They can operate for several months at a time and can dive repeatedly to collect three-dimensional ocean observations.

Rutgers University is leading this combined science mission involving all three of the east coast IOOS regions: Northeast, Mid-Atlantic and Southeast. In addition to glider data, the mission will use satellite, moored buoy and coastal radar data. During the mission, the gliders will also collect acoustic data about fish and mammal migrations to improve the understanding of their behaviors.  

Collected glider data will go through NOAA’s National Data Buoy Center to NOAA’s National Weather Service, the U.S. Navy and other data users for modeling. Data from the glider missions will also be public and available on the IOOS Glider Asset Map and at http://www.ndbc.noaa.gov/gliders.php

In addition to NOAA funding, provided through the IOOS regions, other funding sources for the project include the Office of Naval Research, the Environmental Protection Agency, NASA, a private donor from the University of Delaware, and Canada’s Ocean Technology Network.

IOOS is a federal, regional and private sector partnership working to enhance the ability to collect, deliver and use ocean information. IOOS delivers the data and information needed to increase understanding of our ocean and coasts so that decision makers can act to improve safety, enhance the economy, and protect the environment.

NOAA’s mission is to understand and predict changes in the Earth's environment, from the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun, and to conserve and manage our coastal and marine resources. Join us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and our other social media channels.


View the original article here

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Sanctuaries establishes new business advisory council

September 12, 2013

NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries has established a new business advisory council to give its director the views of industry leaders as they work with corporate partners in marine resource protection.

“The ocean is a fundamental part of the U.S. economy, security, history, and culture,” said Daniel J. Basta, director of the Office of National Marine Sanctuaries.“However, the relationship between the conservation and commercial sectors is not well understood or coordinated. We hope this council will help us bridge that divide.”

Business leaders will be invited to join the council, which will consist of 15 volunteers representing industries such as travel and tourism, recreation, fishing, transportation, energy, and marketing. Members will be appointed by the national marine sanctuaries director and serve two- to three-year terms.

Council members will serve as liaisons between their industries and NOAA, keeping sanctuary leadership informed of issues and concerns, as well as providing information to their respective sectors about national marine sanctuary system initiatives. The council will not have a role in providing advice on regulatory or administrative matters.

The council will work with sanctuary leadership on strategies to use the sanctuary system’s recreational value and beauty to aid local economies, engage the corporate sector and other non-traditional partners in marine resource protection, and develop projects to sustain and protect the sanctuaries and other marine protected areas, among other initiatives.

For additional information about the business council, visit http://sanctuaries.noaa.gov/management/bac/

NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries serves as trustee for a system of 14 marine protected areas, encompassing more than 170,000 square miles of America’s ocean and Great Lakes waters. Through active research, management, and public engagement, national marine sanctuaries sustain healthy environments that are the foundation for thriving communities and stable economies. Authority for the business advisory council is provided under the National Marine Sanctuaries Act.

NOAA’s mission is to understand and predict changes in the Earth's environment, from the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun, and to conserve and manage our coastal and marine resources. Join us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and our other social media channels.


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Saturday, October 5, 2013

Sandy retired from list of Atlantic Basin tropical cyclone names

April 11, 2013

GOES East image of Hurricane Sandy, Oct. 29, 2012.

This NOAA GOES-13 satellite image taken on October 29, 2012 shows the storm as it is centered off of Maryland and Virginia. 

Download here. (Credit: NOAA.)

Sandy has been retired from the official list of Atlantic Basin tropical cyclone names by the World Meteorological Organization’s hurricane committee because of the extreme impacts it caused from Jamaica and Cuba to the Mid-Atlantic United States in October 2012.
Storm names are reused every six years for both the Atlantic and eastern North Pacific basins. If a storm is so deadly or costly that the future use of the name would be insensitive or confusing, the WMO hurricane committee, which includes personnel from NOAA’s National Hurricane Center, may retire the name. Sandy is the 77th name to be retired from the Atlantic list since 1954. The name will be replaced with “Sara” beginning in 2018.
Sandy was a classic late-season hurricane in the southwestern Caribbean Sea. The cyclone made landfall as a category 1 hurricane (on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale) in Jamaica, and as a 115 mph category 3 hurricane in eastern Cuba.  Hurricane Sandy merged with a frontal system hours before making landfall as a post-tropical cyclone near Brigantine, N.J., and its size and strength caused catastrophic damage all along the mid-Atlantic shoreline.

Because of its tremendous size, Sandy drove a catastrophic storm surge into the New Jersey and New York coastlines. Preliminary U.S. damage estimates are near $50 billion, making Sandy the second-costliest cyclone since Katrina to hit the United States. There were at least 147 direct deaths recorded across the Atlantic basin due to Sandy, with 72 of these fatalities occurring in the mid-Atlantic and northeastern United States. Sandy caused the greatest number of U.S. direct fatalities related to a tropical cyclone outside of the southern states since Hurricane Agnes in 1972.

NOAA's National Weather Service is the primary source of weather data, forecasts and warnings for the United States and its territories. NOAA’s National Weather Service operates the most advanced weather and flood warning and forecast system in the world, helping to protect lives and property and enhance the national economy. Working with partners, NOAA’s National Weather Service is building a Weather-Ready Nation to support community resilience in the face of increasing vulnerability to extreme weather. Visit us online at weather.gov and on Facebook.

NOAA’s mission is to understand and predict changes in the Earth's environment, from the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun, and to conserve and manage our coastal and marine resources. Join us on Facebook, Twitter and our other social media channels.


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Friday, October 4, 2013

Statement from NOAA Administrator Dr. Jane Lubchenco on the death of Sen. Daniel K. Inouye

December 18, 2012

I was deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Chairman Inouye. He was the epitome of public service, from the Medal of Honor in recognition of his service in WWII, to his steadying leadership as President pro Tempore of the Senate, and Chair of its Appropriations Committee. His quiet strength, fierce dignity and passion for his beloved Aloha state and this country were obvious in everything he did.

During my four years as NOAA Administrator, I had the privilege of meeting with him multiple times, both in his DC offices and in Hawai'i. He told me frequently how important NOAA was to his people – from weather and tsunami warnings to healthy oceans and sustainable fisheries to the science that underpins them all. And he understood and supported the importance of integrating them. The Senator appreciated the need to balance protection with use of our natural resources and was a true champion for NOAA and our mission.

My condolences go out to his wife and family, and I want them to know how much those of us who worked with him loved and respected him. I have no doubt that his legacy will live on throughout this nation that he served so well.

Dr. Jane Lubchenco
Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere
and NOAA Administrator


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Thursday, October 3, 2013

Thin, low Arctic clouds played an important role in the massive 2012 Greenland ice melt

April 3, 2013

The ICECAPS Mobile Science Facility at Summit Station against a backdrop of Arctic clouds.

The ICECAPS Mobile Science Facility at Summit Station against a backdrop of Arctic clouds. ICECAPS is short for Integrated Characterization of Energy, Clouds, Atmospheric state and Precipitation.

Download here (Credit: CIRES/University of Colorado )

Clouds over the central Greenland Ice Sheet last July were “just right” for driving surface temperatures there above the melting point, according to a new study by scientists at NOAA and the Universities of Wisconsin, Idaho and Colorado. The study, published today in Nature, found that thin, low-lying clouds allowed the sun’s energy to pass through and warm the surface of the ice, while at the same time trapping heat near the surface of the ice cap. This combination played a significant role in last summer's record-breaking melt.

“Thicker cloud conditions would not have led to the same amount of surface warming,” said Matthew Shupe, research meteorologist with NOAA’s Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences at the University of Colorado and the NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory. “To understand the region’s future, you’ll need to understand its clouds. Our finding has implications for the fate of ice throughout the Arctic.”

Scientists around the world are trying to understand how quickly Greenland is warming because ice melt there contributes to sea level rise globally. The Greenland Ice Sheet is second only to Antarctica in ice volume. In July, more than 97 percent of the Greenland Ice Sheet surface experienced some degree of melting, including at the National Science Foundation’s Summit Station, high atop the ice sheet. According to ice core records, the last time the surface at Summit experienced any degree of melting was in 1889, but it is not known whether this extended across the entire ice sheet.

To investigate whether clouds contributed to, or counteracted, the surface warming that melted the ice, the authors modeled the near-surface conditions. The model was based on observations from a suite of sophisticated atmospheric sensors operated as part of a study called the Integrated Characterization of Energy, Clouds, Atmospheric State and Precipitation at Summit.

“The July 2012 ice melt was triggered by an influx of unusually warm air sweeping in from North America, but that was only one factor,” said David Turner, research meteorologist with the NOAA National Severe Storms Laboratory and one of the lead investigators. “In our paper, we show that low-lying clouds containing a low amount of condensed water were instrumental in pushing surface air temperatures up above freezing and causing the surface ice to melt.”

Clouds can cool the surface by reflecting solar energy back into space, and can warm it by radiating heat energy back down to the surface. The balance of those two processes depends on many factors, including wind speed, turbulence, humidity and cloud “thickness,” or liquid water content.

In certain conditions, these clouds can be thin enough to allow some solar radiation to pass through, while still “trapping” infrared radiation at ground level. That is exactly what happened last July: the clouds were just right for maximum surface warming. Thicker clouds would have reflected away more solar radiation; thinner ones couldn’t have trapped as much heat, and in either of those cases, there would have been less surface warming.

The researchers also found these thin, low-lying liquid clouds occur 30 to 50 percent of the time in summer, both over Greenland and across the Arctic. Current climate models tend to underestimate their occurrence in the Arctic, which limits those models’ ability to predict how clouds and their warming or cooling effects may respond to climate change.

“The cloud properties and atmospheric processes observed with the Summit Station instrument array provide a unique dataset to answer the large range of scientific questions we want to address,” said Turner. “Clouds play a big role in the surface mass and energy budgets over the Greenland Ice Sheet. Melting of the world’s major ice sheets can significantly impact human and environmental conditions via its contribution to sea-level rise.”

Better understanding of clouds also improves climate models.

“Our results may help to explain some of the difficulties that current global climate models have in simulating the Arctic surface energy budget, including the contributions of clouds,” said Ralf Bennartz, lead author for the study and professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. “Above all, this study highlights the importance of continuous and detailed ground-based observations over the Greenland Ice Sheet and elsewhere. Only such detailed observations will lead to a better understanding of the processes that drive Arctic climate.”

NOAA’s mission is to understand and predict changes in the Earth's environment, from the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun, and to conserve and manage our coastal and marine resources. Join us on Facebook, Twitter and our other social media channels.


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Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Working with 10 nations to address illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing and stem the bycatch of protected species

January 11, 2013

The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Rush escorts the suspected high seas drift net fishing vessel Da Cheng in the North Pacific Ocean on August 14, 2012.

The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Rush escorts the suspected high seas drift net fishing vessel Da Cheng in the North Pacific Ocean on August 14, 2012.

Download here. (Credit: U.S. Coast Guard)

As part of its overall efforts to ensure that the U.S. fishing industry isn’t undermined by unsustainable or illegal activities, NOAA today submitted a Congressionally mandated report identifying 10 nations whose fishing vessels engaged in illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing in 2011 or 2012, or had ineffective measures to prevent the unintended catch of protected species in 2012.

IUU fishing undermines international efforts to sustainably manage and rebuild fisheries and creates unfair market competition for fishermen who adhere to strict conservation measures, like those in the United States. IUU fishing can devastate fish populations and their productive marine habitats, threatening food security and economic stability. Independent experts have estimated economic losses worldwide from IUU fishing to be between $10 billion and $23 billion annually.

“NOAA’s international fisheries work is critical to the economic viability of U.S. fishing communities and the protection of U.S. jobs,” said Russell Smith, NOAA deputy assistant secretary for international fisheries. “This is about leveling the playing field for fishermen around the world, and IUU fishing represents one of the biggest threats to the U.S. fishing industry. Seafood is a global business, and U.S. fishermen following the rules should not have to compete with those using illegal or unsustainable fishing practices.”

The IUU fishing vessel Taruman held 143 tons of illegally harvested Patagonian toothfish (Chilean sea bass).

The IUU fishing vessel Taruman held 143 tons of illegally harvested Patagonian toothfish (Chilean sea bass).

Download here. (Credit: Australian Customs Service)

The U.S. will soon start consultations with each of the 10 nations — Colombia, Ecuador, Ghana, Italy, Mexico, Panama, the Republic of Korea, Spain, Tanzania, and Venezuela — to encourage them to take action to address IUU fishing and bycatch by their fishermen.

All 10 nations identified in this year’s report had vessels that did not comply in 2011 and/or 2012 with conservation and management measures required under a regional fishery management organization to which the United States is a party. Mexico was also identified for ineffective management of the bycatch of North Pacific loggerhead sea turtles, which travel between Japan and Mexico through Hawaiian waters, and are endangered under the U.S. Endangered Species Act.

“As one of the largest importers of seafood in the world, the United States has a global responsibility and an economic duty to ensure the fish we import is caught sustainably and legally,” said Sam Rauch, deputy assistant administrator for NOAA’s Fisheries Service. “We look forward to working with these nations to encourage their compliance, and we will continue to work with our partners to detect and combat illegal practices.”

NOAA’s Office of Law Enforcement Special Agent James Cassin conducts a video inventory of the fishing vessel Antillas Reefer in Maputo, Mozambique in 2008. These video inventories are conducted post-seizure to eliminate liability claims and identify all potential evidence on a vessel.

NOAA’s Office of Law Enforcement Special Agent James Cassin conducts a video inventory of the fishing vessel Antillas Reefer in Maputo, Mozambique in 2008. These video inventories are conducted post-seizure to eliminate liability claims and identify all potential evidence on a vessel.

Download here. (Credit: NOAA)

All six of the nations identified in the previous 2011 Biennial Report to Congress (Colombia, Ecuador, Italy, Panama, Portugal, and Venezuela) have addressed the instances by taking strong actions like sanctioning vessels, adopting or amending laws and regulations, or improving monitoring and enforcement. Each of these six nations now has a positive certification for their 2011 identified activities. However, a nation positively certified for action taken since the last report may be listed again as engaged in IUU fishing if new issues are identified, as is the case in this report.

If a nation fails to take appropriate action to address the instances of illegal fishing or bycatch activities described in the report, that nation’s fishing vessels may be denied entry into U.S. ports, and imports of certain fish or fish products from that nation into the United States may be prohibited. The United States is second only to China in the amount of seafood it imports. NOAA’s latest figures showed that 91 percent of the 4.7 billion pounds of seafood consumed in the United States in 2011 was imported.

Today’s report is a requirement of the High Seas Driftnet Fishing Moratorium Protection Act, as amended by the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Reauthorization Act and the Shark Conservation Act. To read the report, go to http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/ia.

The report is prepared by NOAA Fisheries’ Office of International Affairs, which also works with the nations identified to resolve IUU issues. In addition, NOAA’s Office of Law Enforcement works with foreign law enforcement and fisheries officials to investigate illegal trafficking, illegal imports, and IUU fishing, and it routinely partners with U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the U.S. Coast Guard. NOAA Law Enforcement and the Coast Guard also work together to ensure that U.S.-flagged vessels are complying with the law.

The foreign fishing vessel Marshalls 201 runs from the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Walnut in September 2006 while still in U.S. waters. After the vessel was stopped and boarded, U.S. Coast Guard personnel determined the Marshalls 201 did not possess the proper permits to fish within U.S. waters and contained approximately 500 metric tons of tuna on board. The vessel and catch were seized and escorted to Guam for prosecution. The owner pled to one count and paid a penalty of $500,000.

The foreign fishing vessel Marshalls 201 runs from the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Walnut in September 2006 while still in U.S. waters. After the vessel was stopped and boarded, U.S. Coast Guard personnel determined the Marshalls 201 did not possess the proper permits to fish within U.S. waters and contained approximately 500 metric tons of tuna on board. The vessel and catch were seized and escorted to Guam for prosecution. The owner pled to one count and paid a penalty of $500,000.

Download here. (Credit: U.S. Coast Guard)

Today, NOAA also issued final regulations to implement the international provisions of the Shark Conservation Act. These regulations specify the procedures for identifying and certifying nations whose vessels catch sharks on the high seas. They also amend the definition of IUU fishing to help ensure a comprehensive approach to addressing unsustainable fisheries activities of greatest concern to the United States.

NOAA’s mission is to understand and predict changes in the Earth's environment, from the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun, and to conserve and manage our coastal and marine resources. Join us on Facebook, Twitter and our other social media channels at social media channels.


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Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Public comment sought on expanding Gulf of the Farallones and Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuaries off Northern California

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Dec. 20, 2012

Contact:
Keeley Belva, 301-713-3066
Vernon Smith, 301-713-7248
NOAA Seeks Public Comment on Expanding Gulf of the Farallones and Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuaries
Off Northern California

NOAA's Office of National Marine Sanctuaries announced today it will begin a public process to review the boundaries for its Gulf of the Farallones and Cordell Bank national marine sanctuaries off northern California. The agency is soliciting public comments on this boundary review through March 1.

The sanctuaries, established by Congress in the 1980s, together protect nearly 2,000 square miles of ocean near the coast of San Francisco. The proposed expansion area is north of the existing sanctuaries and extends from Bodega Bay in Sonoma County to Alder Creek in Mendocino County. This area encompasses Point Arena-North America's most intense "upwelling" site-which is home to diverse species and a productive ecosystem.

NOAA will review these comments to determine if an expansion is beneficial, and if so, will prepare a draft environmental impact statement (EIS) to assess expansion alternatives. Any draft EIS will be subsequently prepared through a public process under the National Environmental Policy Act. Once a draft EIS is completed, it will be opened for public comment again before final action is taken. This process will not revisit or amend the regulations for the current sanctuaries.

"The waters off the northern California coast are incredibly nutrient-rich and drive the entire natural system and, for almost a decade, local communities have been petitioning their elected officials to expand sanctuary protection to these areas," said Daniel J. Basta, director of the NOAA's Office of National Marine Sanctuaries.

In 2008, during a review of the two sanctuaries' management plans, NOAA was urged to facilitate a public process in the next five years to ensure that sanctuary boundaries were inclusive of the surrounding area's natural resources and ecological qualities. Senator Barbara Boxer and Representative Lynn Woolsey have also introduced legislation in every Congress since 2003 to expand the sanctuaries' boundaries.

Three scoping meetings are planned for the public to learn more about the proposal and submit comments. Public meetings will be held on the following dates, locations, and times: Bodega Bay Grange Hall, Bodega Bay, Calif., Jan. 24, 6:00 p.m. Point Arena High School, Point Arena, Calif., Feb. 12, 6:00 p.m. Gualala Community Center, Gualala, Calif., Feb. 13, 6:00 p.m.

Comments on the proposed boundary expansion may also be submitted by March 1, 2013 via: Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov/. Submit electronic comments via the Federal eRulemaking Portal with Docket Number NOAA-NOS-2012-0228 Mail: Maria Brown, Sanctuary Superintendent, Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary, 991 Marine Drive, The Presidio San Francisco, CA 94129

Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary, designated in 1981, and Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary, designated in 1989, both contribute greatly to ocean and coastal management by engaging in public outreach and education to promote stewardship, conducting scientific and applied research initiatives, and developing and supporting programs that strengthen resource protection for the long-term health of the region.

Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary encompasses nearly 1,300 square miles of ocean and coastal waters beyond California's Golden Gate Bridge. The sanctuary supports an abundance of species including the largest breeding seabird rookery in the contiguous United States, and other species such as whales and white sharks. Visit http://www.farallones.noaa.gov.

Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary, located 42 miles north of San Francisco, is a destination feeding area for local and migratory marine life. The sanctuary's productive waters and unique undersea topography provide the foundation for a rich and diverse marine community. Visit http://www.cordellbank.noaa.gov.

NOAA's mission is to understand and predict changes in the Earth's environment, from the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun, and to conserve and manage our coastal and marine resources. Join us on Facebooklink leaves government site, Twitterlink leaves government site and our other social media channels. On the Web:
Sanctuaries Expansion Information



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