Improving search and rescue times
The U.S. Coast Guard uses U.S. IOOS data from high frequency radar systems for critical life-saving operations around the clock. High frequency radars deliver surface current speed and direction data in near real time. Using this information, rescuers can then track the probable paths of victims and drifting survivor craft, improving rescue efforts along the U.S. coast. Tests showed that by ingesting high frequency radar data into the U.S. Coast Guard’s Search and Rescue system, the search area was decreased by 65% over 96 hours, focusing search efforts, improving the chance of saving lives, and reducing overall search costs. The U.S. Coast Guard integrated high frequency radar in the Mid-Atlantic region in 2009 and work is ongoing to extend this nationwide on or before early 2012. This effort is a partnership among U.S. IOOS, the U.S. Coast Guard, and the Department of Homeland Security.
HF radar data showing currents for June 4, 2010, overlaid with oil coverage in the Deepwater Horizon spill area in the northern Gulf of Mexico, courtesy Rutgers University Coastal Ocean Observation Lab.
Multiple agencies rely on round-the-clock high frequency radar data served through U.S. IOOS for response efforts after an oil spill. These high frequency radar systems, which serve surface current speed and direction in near real time, assisted crews in compiling forecasts of where the oil would travel during the Deep Water Horizon oil spill off the Gulf Coast in 2010. High frequency radar data also proved critical after the Cosco Busan oil spill in San Francisco Bay in 2007. In that case, hourly surface current information provided emergency personnel with spill location and flow direction to enhance response time.
High frequency radar [LINK TO HF RADAR SECTION}data have been used to assist in the response to other spill and contaminant events. For example, in 2008, after finding a defect in the City and County of San Francisco’s wastewater system, managers used high frequency radar data to determine if the system would cause a wastewater discharge near shore. Local decision makers used daily forecasts based on U.S. IOOS data to decide whether to close nearby beaches. The City of San Diego’s Department of Environmental Health also uses the Tijuana River Plume Trajectory to help guide decisions about sampling and beach closures.
CDIP Buoy off Kaumalapau Harbor
U.S.IOOS data delivered from a buoy located outside the main harbor of Lanai, Hawaii - Kaumalapau Harbor – has saved barge companies, importing oil to the island, from having to return to Honolulu full of fuel because the ocean conditions in the harbor were too rough to safely discharge. Prior to the deployment of the buoy, two or three barges a year would be forced to return to Honolulu at a cost to the barge companies of approximately $22,000 per event. With the buoy in place since 2007, the barge companies now have the ability to know ahead of time when they can safely make the drop off and have not had to return a single ship. In addition to saving the barge companies approximately $66,000 per year, there is the benefit of improved safety and efficiency of importing oil to the island, increasing crew safety, and reducing threats of damage to the barge and risk of oil spill.
A “Bar Forecast” that uses critical U.S. IOOS wave data has dramatically reduced the number of U.S. Coast Guard rescue incidents in the San Francisco area of California.
CDIP provides wave conditions
In 2005, the National Weather Service in Monterey started broadcasting the Bar Forecast, providing information on sea conditions, for marine operators entering and departing San Francisco.
Since the Bar Forecast was introduced, there has been a 50 percent decrease in the average number of annual U.S. Coast Guard rescue incidents in the vicinity of the San Francisco bar. The wave instruments serving as input for this Forecast are the Pt. Reyes Buoy and the San Francisco Bar Buoy. The Point Reyes buoy is well exposed to north, west and south storms, and thus serves as an indicator of long period swell conditions. The San Francisco Bar Buoy is moored on the edge of the navigation channel and serves as an indicator of the local sea conditions. The combination of data from these buoys, which are part of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Coastal Data Information Program (CDIP), provided the complete wave spectra necessary for formulating the Bar Forecast.
"Chá bă," a new buoy off the coast of Washington, contributes better information about the ocean conditions that oysters can and cannot tolerate.
Photo courtesy of Dr. John Payne, Pacific Ocean Shelf Tracking Project
Oyster hatcheries on the verge of collapse just a few years ago are again major contributors to the $111 million West Coast shellfish industry, thanks in part to a $500,000 federal investment in the monitoring of coastal seawater. This effort is strengthened by data and observational information from IOOS and the NOAA Ocean Acidification Program. Real-time data from offshore U.S. IOOS buoys act as an early warning system for shellfish hatcheries, signaling the approach of cold, acidified seawater one to two days before it arrives in the sensitive coastal waters where larvae are cultivated. The data enable hatchery managers to schedule production when water quality is good. In the Pacific Northwest, monitoring efforts detected the acidification of seawater that was threatening shellfish, providing an understanding of the problem and offering an approach to address it. Armed with better information about the ocean conditions that oysters can and cannot tolerate, Taylor Shellfish Farms in Washington State was able to adapt its operations, resulting in its best year since 1989. Whiskey Creek Shellfish Hatchery in Oregon, a major supplier to the majority of West Coast oyster farmers, also enjoyed substantial increases in its oyster harvest. In 2008, productivity for Whiskey Creek was at just 20 percent of its normal level; by 2010, it had risen to 70 percent.
New tools created in part by the U.S. IOOS region in the Great Lakes are improving the safety of drinking water in that area. In partnership with
Hydrodynamic Model Project. Great Lakes Observing System
NOAA’s Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory (GLERL), the Great Lakes Observing System (GLOS) supported the development of a 3-D hydrodynamic model for the Lake Huron-Lake Erie corridor that addresses lake level and flow forecasting needs, and supports source water protection, spill response and search and rescue operations.
In addition, GLOS worked with a regional partner, the Cooperative Institute for Limnology and Ecosystems Research, to leverage the efforts of four research universities and NOAA-GLERL to plan and implement a near-shore observing network. Deployed in the near shore zone (i.e., at 20-50 m contour lines) and near municipal water intakes, the network has improved water quality monitoring for water intakes and public beaches.
Hydrodynamic Model Project. Great Lakes Observing System
U.S. IOOS partners in the Caribbean have improved forecasts in the region over the past several years by enhancing the availability of data in the area. The Caribbean Regional Association (CaRA)
substantially increased the number of sensors collecting ocean and meteorological information by deploying four buoys gathering ocean data and installing one high frequency radar array that collects surface current data in Puerto Rico. The region also installed a network of 12 shore-based meteorological stations at key locations throughout Puerto Rico and the United States Virgin Islands. These data sources provide new capability for the National Weather Service to validate forecasts in the region.