New numbers show that the Northeastern Regional Association of Coastal Ocean Observing Systems (NERACOOS), a regional entity of the U.S. Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS), provides more than 50% of surface and 90% of underwater observations in the northeastern part of the United States. Additionally, in a user survey, more than 75% of people surveyed said services NERACOOS provides are critical to their daily lives.
NERACOOS and partners discussed the findings at the annual NERACOOS meeting on November 29, 2011. Zdenka Willis, U.S. IOOS Program Director, and Gabrielle Canonico, U.S. IOOS Program Regional Program Analyst, attended and provided a national overview of U.S. IOOS during the meeting. More than 60 stakeholders attended the meeting, and provided positive feedback about NERACOOS efforts last year.
IOOS Representatives and stakeholders talk about the meaningful presence of NERACOOS in the Northeast region (Credit: Portsmouth Herald)
Buoys in the region are the lifeblood of the observing assets and are used routinely by the Federal government for monitoring water quality and ecosystem health, supporting safe marine operations and efficiency of commercial shipping, and other purposes. For example, John Cannon of NOAA's National Weather Service Weather Forecast Office in Gray, Maine, talked about the importance of visibility sensors on the buoys, which provide data critical for the safe operation of maritime traffic in the region.
Dr. Neal Pettigrew is recognized by the Northeast Atlantic region, NERACOOS for his dedicated efforts to the Gulf of Maine Buoy array and the efforts of his team in developing coastal buoys used not only by NERACOOS but also by the Caribbean region, CaRICOOS.
A NERACOOS hallmark is its many successful partnerships, highlighted in Executive Director Ru Morrison’s “State of NERACOOS” address. NERACOOS recognized Dr. Neal Pettigrew for his dedicated efforts to the Gulf of Maine Buoy array and his team efforts in developing coastal buoys used by both NERACOOS and the Caribbean Regional Association (CaRA), another IOOS regional entity.
Portsmouth Harbor pilot PJ Johnson spoke to participants and the press about the value of NERACOOS data in keeping shipping traffic moving through New England ports. NERACOOS has also incorporated new data sources, such as right whale detection data from ten buoys that listen passively for the animals. When sensors detect a whale, the buoys send an alert to ships nearby, allowing them to slow down and post a lookout. This alert helps protect the endangered right whales, while keeping shipping moving efficiently.