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New economic study shows marine debris costs California residents millions of dollars

August 16, 2014 Comments off

New economic study shows marine debris costs California residents millions of dollars
Source: NOAA

Marine debris has many impacts on the ocean, wildlife, and coastal communities. A NOAA Marine Debris Program economic study released today shows that it can also have considerable economic costs to residents who use their local beaches.

The study found that Orange County, California residents lose millions of dollars each year avoiding littered, local beaches in favor of choosing cleaner beaches that are farther away and may cost more to reach. Reducing marine debris even by 25 percent at beaches in and near Orange County could save residents roughly $32 million during three months in the summer.

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Significant Security Deficiencies in NOAA’s Information Systems Create Risks in Its National Critical Mission

August 15, 2014 Comments off

Significant Security Deficiencies in NOAA’s Information Systems Create Risks in Its National Critical Mission
Source: U.S Department of Commerce, Office of Inspector General
From Abstract (PDF):

Information systems connected to NESDIS’ critical satellite ground support systems increases the risk of cyber attacks. The Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellites’ (POES’) and Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellites’ (GOES’) mission-critical satellite ground support systems have interconnections with systems where the flow of information is not restricted, which could provide a cyber attacker with access to these critical assets.

NESDIS’ inconsistent implementation of mobile device protections increases the likelihood of a malware infection. In our review of selected Windows components on four NESDIS systems, we found that (a) unauthorized mobile devices had been connected to POES, GOES, and Environmental Satellite Processing Center (ESPC), and (b) GOES and ESPC did not consistently ensure that Microsoft Windows’ AutoRun feature was disabled.

Improvements are needed to provide assurance that independent security control assessments are sufficiently rigorous. We found that 28 of 60 (47 percent) of the independent assessments of security controls have deficiencies and may not have provided NOAA’s authorizing official with an accurate implementation status of the system’s security controls.

Billion-Dollar Weather and Climate Disasters

August 8, 2014 Comments off

Billion-Dollar Weather and Climate Disasters
Source: NOAA

On August 6, NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center released updated information on 2013 Billion-Dollar Weather and Climate Disasters and several new tools to assist users in analyzing the data. These new features allow users to better explore the type, frequency and cost of U.S. billion-dollar events by state and year, from 1980 to 2013.

Based on updated financial information, NOAA is adding two new disasters to the 2013 total to include an Illinois Flooding and Severe Weather that occurred April 16-19, 2013, and a Midwest Severe Weather event that occurred August 6-7, 2013. This brings the total number of 2013 billion-dollar weather and climate events to nine. The estimated cost of damages from these events is $23 billion dollars.

NOAA also reanalyzed the entire period of record to examine events that were close to $1 billion threshold. Based on this reanalysis, 17 were added events to the entire period of record dating back to 1980, including several drought in the early part of the record.

NOAA’s updated Atlantic hurricane season outlook calls for an increased chance of a below-normal season

August 7, 2014 Comments off

NOAA’s updated Atlantic hurricane season outlook calls for an increased chance of a below-normal season
Source: NOAA

Forecasters with NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center raised the likelihood for a below-normal season in today’s update to the Atlantic Hurricane Season Outlook. The update predicts a 70 percent chance of a below-normal season, a 25 percent chance of a near-normal season and only a five percent chance of an above-normal season. The probabilities in the initial outlook issued on May 22 were 50 percent, 40 percent and 10 percent, respectively.

Sea Level Rise and Nuisance Flood Frequency Changes around the United States

July 29, 2014 Comments off

Sea Level Rise and Nuisance Flood Frequency Changes around the United States (PDF)
Source: NOAA

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration ( NOAA ) water level (tide) gauges have been measuring water levels around the U.S. for over a century, providing clear evidence of sea level rise relative to land (SLR rel ) around most of the continental United States and Hawaii. As SLR rel increases mean sea level (MSL), there is naturally an increase in tidal datum elevations, which are typically used to delineate inundation thresholds. Direct consequences of rising sea level against fixed elevations such as today’s built infrastructure also include increased inundation during extreme events both spatially and temporally. Not only are extreme flooding events reaching high er grounds and covering larger areas due to SLR rel , the frequency and duration of these extreme flood events are increasing.

Another consequence of SLR rel is the increase in lesser extremes such as occasional minor coastal flooding experienced during high tide. These events are becoming more noticeable and widespread along many U.S. coastal regions and are today becoming more of a nuisance . As sea levels continue to rise and with an anticipated acceleration in the rate of rise from ocean warming and land-ice melt, concern exists as to when more substantive impacts from tidal flooding of greater frequency and duration will regularly occur. Information quantifying these occurrences to inform mitigation and adaptation efforts and decision makers is not widely available.

In this report, we show that water level exceedances above the elevation threshold for “minor” coastal flooding (nuisance level ) impacts established locally by the National Weather Service (NWS) have been increasing in time. More importantly, we document that event frequencies are accelerating at many U.S. East and Gulf Coast gauges, and many other locations will soon follow regardless of whether there is an acceleration of SLR rel . Lastly, we show a regional pattern of increasingly greater event-rate acceleration as the height between MSL and a location’s nuisance flood threshold elevation decreases.

Climate data from air, land, sea and ice in 2013 reflect trends of a warming planet

July 17, 2014 Comments off

Climate data from air, land, sea and ice in 2013 reflect trends of a warming planet
Source: NOAA

In 2013, the vast majority of worldwide climate indicators—greenhouse gases, sea levels, global temperatures, etc.—continued to reflect trends of a warmer planet, according to the indicators assessed in the State of the Climate in 2013 report, released online today by the American Meteorological Society.

Scientists from NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C., served as the lead editors of the report, which was compiled by 425 scientists from 57 countries around the world (highlights, visuals, full report). It provides a detailed update on global climate indicators, notable weather events, and other data collected by environmental monitoring stations and instruments on air, land, sea, and ice.

“These findings reinforce what scientists for decades have observed: that our planet is becoming a warmer place,” said NOAA Administrator Kathryn Sullivan, Ph.D. “This report provides the foundational information we need to develop tools and services for communities, business, and nations to prepare for, and build resilience to, the impacts of climate change.”

The report uses dozens of climate indicators to track patterns, changes, and trends of the global climate system, including greenhouse gases; temperatures throughout the atmosphere, ocean, and land; cloud cover; sea level; ocean salinity; sea ice extent; and snow cover. These indicators often reflect many thousands of measurements from multiple independent datasets. The report also details cases of unusual and extreme regional events, such as Super Typhoon Haiyan, which devastated portions of Southeast Asia in November 2013.

Lightning Deaths in 2014 in United States

June 27, 2014 Comments off

Lightning Deaths in 2014 in United States
Source: National Weather Service

To date in 2014, there have been 7 lightning fatalities: 4 in Florida, 1 each in Michigan, New Mexico and Texas

NOAA study shows educating, warning, and citing speeding mariners helps lower ship speeds in areas with endangered North Atlantic Right Whales

June 12, 2014 Comments off

NOAA study shows educating, warning, and citing speeding mariners helps lower ship speeds in areas with endangered North Atlantic Right Whales
Source: NOAA

NOAA’s policy of notifying — but not necessarily citing — speeding vessels in protected areas along the East Coast was effective in lowering their speeds through these sensitive areas, protecting the critically endangered North Atlantic right whales from ship collisions, while keeping punitive fines to mariners to a minimum, according to a new study.

A NOAA regulation, instituted in December 2008, requires vessels 65 feet or greater in length to travel at speeds of 10 knots or less in areas seasonally occupied by the critically endangered North Atlantic right whale.

The NOAA-led study looked the compliance with speed regulations by 8,009 individual vessels that made more than 200,000 trips between November 2008 and August 2013, mostly in areas where the endangered whales are known to travel. Some were remotely monitored by radio signals sent from the vessels.
Virtually all ships received notification of the speed regulations. The owners or operators of 437 of these ships received non-punitive notifications of violations and were reminded of the regulation, or cited after they were observed violating the restrictions. Twenty-six of them received citations and were fined.

Compliance with the regulation was low at the beginning of the regulatory period but steadily improved, according to the study. Vessels that received fines or citations later showed improved compliance. Informational letters issued by NOAA’s Office of Law Enforcement, monthly public summaries of vessel operations, and direct at-sea radio contact also were effective in keeping the vessels in compliance with the law.

NOAA predicts near-normal or below-normal 2014 Atlantic hurricane season

May 22, 2014 Comments off

NOAA predicts near-normal or below-normal 2014 Atlantic hurricane season
Source: NOAA

In its 2014 Atlantic hurricane season outlook issued today, NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center is forecasting a near-normal or below-normal season.

The main driver of this year’s outlook is the anticipated development of El Niño this summer. El Niño causes stronger wind shear, which reduces the number and intensity of tropical storms and hurricanes. El Niño can also strengthen the trade winds and increase the atmospheric stability across the tropical Atlantic, making it more difficult for cloud systems coming off of Africa to intensify into tropical storms.

The outlook calls for a 50 percent chance of a below-normal season, a 40 percent chance of a near-normal season, and only a 10 percent chance of an above-normal season. For the six-month hurricane season, which begins June 1, NOAA predicts a 70 percent likelihood of 8 to 13 named storms (winds of 39 mph or higher), of which 3 to 6 could become hurricanes (winds of 74 mph or higher), including 1 to 2 major hurricanes (Category 3, 4 or 5; winds of 111 mph or higher).

These numbers are near or below the seasonal averages of 12 named storms, six hurricanes and three major hurricanes, based on the average from 1981 to 2010. The Atlantic hurricane region includes the North Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico.

NOAA — El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) Diagnostic Discussion

May 9, 2014 Comments off

El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) Diagnostic Discussion
Source: NOAA (National Weather Service)

The model predictions of ENSO for this summer and beyond are indicating an increased likelihood of El Niño compared with those from last month. Most of the models indicate that ENSO-neutral (Niño-3.4 index between -0.5oC and 0.5oC) will persist through part of the remainder of the Northern Hemisphere spring 2014 (Fig. 6), most likely transitioning to El Niño during the summer. There remains uncertainty as to exactly when El Niño will develop and an even greater uncertainty as to how strong it may become. This uncertainty is related to the inherently lower forecast skill of the models for forecasts made in the spring. While ENSO-neutral is favored for Northern Hemisphere spring, the chance of El Niño increases during the remainder of the year, exceeding 65% during the summer (click CPC/IRI consensus forecast for the chance of each outcome).

NOAA — Annual Report to Congress on the Status of U.S. Fisheries

May 2, 2014 Comments off

Annual Report to Congress on the Status of U.S. Fisheries
Source: NOAA

The 2013 Annual Report on the Status of U.S. Fisheries highlights the continued progress that collectively, NOAA Fisheries, the regional fishery management councils, and our stakeholders have made to end overfishing and rebuild stocks. Released in conjunction with Fisheries Economics of the U.S. 2012, Status of U.S. Fisheries 2013 documents additional progress towards long-term economic sustainability of our nation’s fish stocks. This progress demonstrates the strength of the U.S. science-based management model under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and management Act (MSA) and the importance of ending overfishing as the key to addressing past overfishing problems.

Update on National Hurricane Center Products and Services for 2014

April 11, 2014 Comments off

Update on NHC Products and Services for 2014 (PDF)
Source: NOAA (National Hurricane Center)

NOAA’s National Hurricane Center (NHC) will implement the following changes to its text and graphical products for the 2014 hurricane season…

NOAA State of the Climate — January Global Temperature Fourth Highest on Record

February 21, 2014 Comments off

January Global Temperature Fourth Highest on Record
Source: NOAA

According to NOAA scientists, the globally-averaged temperature over land and ocean surfaces for January 2014 was the highest since 2007 and the fourth highest for January since reliable record keeping began in 1880. It also marked the 38th consecutive January and 347th consecutive month (almost 29 years) with a global temperature above the 20th century average. The last below-average January global temperature was January 1976 and the last below-average global temperature for any month was February 1985.

Most areas of the world experienced warmer-than-average monthly temperatures, with the most notable warmth across Alaska, western Canada, southern Greenland, south-central Russia, Mongolia, and northern China. Parts of southeastern Brazil and central and southern Africa experienced record warmth, contributing to the warmest January Southern Hemisphere land temperature departure on record at 2.03°F (1.13°C) above the 20th century average. Temperature departures were below the long-term average across the eastern half of the contiguous U.S, Mexico, and much of Russia. However, no regions of the globe were record cold.

NOAA: Slow Atlantic hurricane season coming to a close

December 3, 2013 Comments off

NOAA: Slow Atlantic hurricane season coming to a close
Source: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

The 2013 Atlantic hurricane season, which officially ends on Saturday, Nov. 30, had the fewest number of hurricanes since 1982, thanks in large part to persistent, unfavorable atmospheric conditions over the Gulf of Mexico, Caribbean Sea, and tropical Atlantic Ocean. This year is expected to rank as the sixth-least-active Atlantic hurricane season since 1950, in terms of the collective strength and duration of named storms and hurricanes.

NOAA Releases NERRS Climate Sensitivity Report

August 7, 2013 Comments off

NOAA Releases NERRS Climate Sensitivity Report
Source: NOAA

The nation’s 28 National Estuarine Research Reserves (NERR) are experiencing the negative effects of human and climate-related stressors according to a new NOAA research report from the National Ocean Service. Results of the new national study, Climate Sensitivity of the National Estuarine Research Reserve System, point to three East Coast located reserves, Sapelo Island NERR (GA), ACE Basin NERR (SC) and Waquoit Bay NERR (MA), and one on the California-Mexico border, Tijuana River NERR (CA), as the most sensitive to climate change.

Researchers determined the extent of relative climate sensitivity in the reserves by looking at five factors: social, biophysical, and ecological sensitivity, and exposure to temperature change and sea level rise.

High social sensitivity to climate change was indicated where there is higher employment within natural resource-dependent industries, lower per capita income and median home values, higher percentages of minority populations, and a higher percentage of individuals lacking a high school education.
• Social sensitivity to climate change was generally highest in the southern portions of the East and West coasts of the U.S., the Gulf of Mexico and Alaska.

Biophysical sensitivity summarizes each reserve’s relationship between annual spring atmospheric temperature and rainfall data and water quality factors such as water temperature, dissolved oxygen and pH.
• Temperature change exposure risk was greatest for reserves located in the Great Lakes, Gulf of Mexico, Mid- Atlantic, and Northeast regions of the country, while reserves in the Gulf of Mexico, parts of the Mid-Atlantic, Southeast, California, and Oregon showed the greatest risk of seal level rise exposure.

New From the GAO

July 29, 2013 Comments off

New GAO Reports

Source:  Government Accountability Office

1. Farm Programs: USDA Needs to Do More to Prevent Improper Payments to Deceased Individuals. GAO-13-503, June 28.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-13-503
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/660/655650.pdf
Podcast: http://www.gao.gov/multimedia/podcasts/655727

2. Insurance Markets: Impacts of and Regulatory Response to the 2007-2009 Financial Crisis. GAO-13-583, June 27.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-13-583
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/660/655613.pdf

3. Grant Workforce: Agency Training Practices Should Inform Future Government-wide Efforts. GAO-13-591, June 28.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-13-591
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/660/655677.pdf

4. Status of the Department of Education’s Inventory of Its Data Collections. GAO-13-596R, June 28.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-13-596R

5. NOAA: Overview of the Strategy, Execution, and Evaluation Budgeting Process. GAO-13-649R, June 28.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-13-649R

6. Medicare: Ownership Status of Inpatient Prospective Payment System Hospitals That Qualify for Payment Adjustments. GAO-13-667R, June 27.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-13-667R

Endangered Species Act: Our Update on Recovery Progress

July 12, 2013 Comments off

Endangered Species Act: Our Update on Recovery Progress
Source: NOAA Fisheries

This year we celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Endangered Species Act, signed into law on December 28th, 1973. By passing this law, Congress recognized that the natural heritage of the United States is of “esthetic, ecological, educational, recreational, and scientific value to our Nation and its people.” They understood that without protection from human actions many of our nation’s living resources would become extinct.

We are pleased to release our 2010-2012 Biennial Report to Congress on the Recovery Program for Threatened and Endangered Species, which includes the known population status of the imperiled species in our charge. During the period of this report, we were responsible for 70 listed domestic species.

This report includes highlights of nine recovery stories that illustrate the types of partnerships and scientific research necessary to put our species on the road to recovery.

New From the GAO

July 11, 2013 Comments off

New GAO Reports and Statement for the Record
Source: Government Accountability Office

Reports

1. NOAA: Initial Response to Post-Storm Assessment Requirements. GAO-13-559R, July 11.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-13-559R

2. Transit Asset Management: Additional Research on Capital Investment Effects Could Help Transit Agencies Optimize Funding. GAO-13-571, July 11.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-13-571
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/660/655838.pdf

Statement for the Record

1. Compacts of Free Association: Guidelines Needed to Support Reliable Estimates of Cost Impacts of Growing Migration, by David B. Gootnick, director, international affairs and trade, before the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. GAO-13-773T, July 11.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-13-773T
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/660/655830.pdf

NOAA, partners predict possible record-setting dead zone for Gulf of Mexico

June 19, 2013 Comments off

NOAA, partners predict possible record-setting dead zone for Gulf of Mexico

Source: NOAA

Scientists are expecting a very large “dead zone” in the Gulf of Mexico and a smaller than average hypoxic level in the Chesapeake Bay this year, based on several NOAA-supported forecast models.

NOAA-supported modelers at the University of Michigan, Louisiana State University, and the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium are forecasting that this year’s Gulf of Mexico hypoxic “dead” zone will be between 7,286 and 8,561 square miles which could place it among the ten largest recorded. That would range from an area the size of Connecticut, Rhode Island and the District of Columbia combined on the low end to the New Jersey on the upper end. The high estimate would exceed the largest ever reported 8,481 square miles in 2002 .

Hypoxic (very low oxygen) and anoxic (no oxygen) zones are caused by excessive nutrient pollution, often from human activities such as agriculture, which results in insufficient oxygen to support most marine life in near-bottom waters. Aspects of weather, including wind speed, wind direction, precipitation and temperature, also impact the size of dead zones.

The Gulf estimate is based on the assumption of no significant tropical storms in the two weeks preceding or during the official measurement survey cruise scheduled from July 25-August 3 2013. If a storm does occur the size estimate could drop to a low of 5344 square miles, slightly smaller than the size of Connecticut.

Billion-Dollar Weather/Climate Disasters

June 14, 2013 Comments off

Billion-Dollar Weather/Climate Disasters

Source: NOAA

The National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) is the Nation’s Scorekeeper in terms of addressing severe weather/climate events in their historical perspective. As part of its responsibility of monitoring and assessing the climate, NCDC tracks and evaluates climate events in the U.S. and globally that have great economic and societal impacts. NCDC is frequently called upon to provide summaries of global and U.S. temperature and precipitation trends, extremes, and comparisons in their historical perspective. Found here are the weather/climate events that have had the greatest economic impact from 1980 to 2012. The U.S. has sustained 144 weather/climate disasters since 1980 where overall damages/costs reached or exceeded $1 billion (including CPI adjustment to 2013). The total cost of these 144 events exceeds $1 trillion.

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