NOAA runs operational forecast modeling systems that provide users with forecast guidance of water levels, currents, and water temperatures for the next 60 hours. The Extratropical Surge and Tide Operational Forecast System (ESTOFS), a storm surge model developed by Coast Survey in 2012, is a vital source of information for forecasting coastal flood events during this weekend’s blizzard.
See the ESTOFS output here, or check nowCOAST for model output integrated with other data.
ESTOFS storm surge forecast guidance valid 2 p.m. EST Jan. 23, overlaid with National Weather Service surface wind forecast (depicted using curved wind barbs)
ESTOFS storm surge forecast guidance valid 1 p.m. EST Jan 23, for New Jersey coast, overlaid on NOAA’s nautical chart
These kids had a great time getting their hands on science at last year’s Open House.
Explore your world and learn how NOAA takes the pulse of the planet every day and protects and manages ocean and coastal resources. Join us on NOAA’s Silver Spring, Maryland, campus for a series of free activities, including engaging talks by NOAA experts, interactive exhibits, special tours, and hands-on activities for ages 5 and up. Meet and talk with cartographers, scientists, weather forecasters, hurricane hunters, and others who work to understand our environment, protect life and property, and conserve and protect natural resources. Learn some of Coast Survey’s heritage and see a historic printing press that we actually used to print charts in the 1800s.
Visit www.noaa.gov/openhouse for details or call 240-533-0710 for more information.
Saturday, February 6
9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
1315 East-West Highway
Silver Spring, MD 20910
Located near Silver Spring Metro Station
Public parking available
Free and open to the public
Note: A government-issued photo ID is required for adults. Check www.noaa.gov/openhouse for a list of acceptable forms of ID.
NOS Acting Assistant Administrator Russ Callender (left) and Coast Survey Director Rear Adm. Gerd Glang (right) welcome Colonel Candido Regalado Gomez, chief of Cuba’s Office of Hydrography and Geodesy.
Following up on Coast Survey’s visit to Havana last spring, Cuban hydrographic officials traveled to Maryland on December 15-17, to meet with NOAA National Ocean Service leaders for discussions about potential future collaboration. High on the agenda for Coast Survey is improving nautical charts for maritime traffic transiting the increasingly busy Straits of Florida.
The historic meeting began with Dr. Russell Callender, NOS acting assistant administrator, welcoming the Cuban delegation, led by Colonel Candido Regalado Gomez, chief of Cuba’s National Office of Hydrography and Geodesy.
“You will receive briefings today as a backdrop to the hydrographic collaboration we are pursuing to make maritime navigation safer in the transboundary waters our nations share,” Callender told the group. “I hope your meetings this week in Silver Spring will contribute to your understanding of the breadth and work of NOAA firsthand, and strengthen our work together.”
The five Cuban officials and representatives from NOAA’s navigation services and the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency worked through the day, explaining the ins-and-outs of each other’s responsibilities and processes. The teams were ready, by the end of the jam-packed agenda, to resolve charting challenges that interfere with smooth navigational transitions from Cuban waters to U.S. waters in the busy Straits of Florida.
This heat density map of maritime traffic illustrates the high volume of traffic (the brown area south of Florida) needing seamless chart coverage.
First, Cuba’s Office of National Hydrography and Geodesy and Coast Survey’s Marine Chart Division confirmed the division of responsibilities and updated each other on the progress for collaborating on international charts (known in mariner’s parlance as “INT Charts”) 4148, 4149, 4017, and 4021. Then, in a technical move sure to please recreational boaters and commercial mariners alike, the two countries conferred on adjusting Cuba and U.S. electronic navigational charts to eliminate overlaps and gaps in coverage.
U.S. and Cuban officials met at NOAA Coast Survey offices in Silver Spring, Maryland, for an intensive day of reports and collaboration. From left to right, Dr. Russell Callender, acting assistant administrator for the National Ocean Service; Rear Admiral Gerd Glang, director of Coast Survey; Richard Edwing, director of CO-OPS; John Lowell, the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency’s chief hydrographer; Tim Wiley, environmental engagement officer, Office of the Coordinator for Cuban Affairs, U.S. Department of State; Captain Richard Brennan, chief of Coast Survey Development Laboratory; Sladjana Maksimovic, Coast Survey cartographer; Edenia Machin Gonzalez, scientist, Cuba’s National Cartographic Agency; Ramon Padron Diaz, frigate captain and chief of Hydrographic Department, Cuba’s National Office of Hydrography; Colonel Candido Regalado Gomez, chief of Cuba’s National Office of Hydrography and Geodesy; and Victor E. Aluija Urgell, lieutenant/general director, GEOCUBA Marine Studies.
By examining adjacent and adjoining ENCs, both sides were able to confer on ways to improve chart coverage in the busy Straits of Florida, where chart misalignments can play havoc with navigational systems as a vessel moves across maritime borders. Countries around the world regularly resolve these issues, as the U.S. does with Canada and Mexico, through regional consultations hosted by the International Hydrographic Organization but, until now, the U.S. and Cuba were unable to work together on their common set of challenges.
Coast Survey initiated the charting discussions earlier this year, when a team of cartographic professionals traveled to Havana in February for three days of meetings with Cuban officials from the Office of National Hydrography and Geodesy and GEOCUBA. During the visit, the Americans and Cubans agreed to work together on a new international paper chart, INT Chart 4149, which will cover south Florida, the Bahamas, and north Cuba. The Office of Coast Survey is now creating the chart, using data supplied by the United Kingdom Hydrographic Office and the Cubans in addition to U.S. data, and plans to publish the new chart in 2016.
This week’s charting progress follows closely on another major accomplishment. Last month, NOAA Administrator Dr. Kathryn Sullivan and Dr. Holly Bamford, acting assistant secretary of conservation and management, traveled to Havana to sign a Memorandum of Understanding on Marine Protected Area cooperation between our two countries. The agreement provides an opportunity for the U.S and Cuba to develop science, education, and management programs between sister sites in both countries, and will strengthen our collaborative relationship.
“The Cuban maritime industry, like many U.S. ports, is building new infrastructure to support commerce and tourism,” said Rear Admiral Gerd Glang, director of Coast Survey. “Like us, they are improving their charts as port and coastal uses evolve, to support expanding maritime commerce.”
“We are now able to work together, as we do with other nations, to coordinate chart coverage and data acquisition.”
In addition to hours of indoor meetings, the Cuban delegation was able to spend some time discussing data acquisition onboard Coast Survey’s research vessel, Bay Hydro II, homeported in Solomons, Maryland. Kathryn Ries (in blue jacket), deputy director of Coast Survey, hosted Ramon Padron Diaz, frigate captain and chief of the Hydrographic Department, Cuba’s National Office of Hydrography; Victor E. Aluija Urgell, lieutenant/general director, GEOCUBA Marine Studies; Edenia Machin Gonzalez, scientist, National Cartographic Agency – Cuba; Yanet Stable Cardenas, first secretary, Embassy of the Republic of Cuba; and Colonel Candido Regalado Gomez, chief of Cuba’s National Office of Hydrography and Geodesy.
by Ensign Kaitlyn Seberger, Junior Officer, NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson
Sub-Lt. Uchechukwu Erege deploys a conductivity-temperature-depth cast to obtain sound speed.
This fall, NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson has had the pleasure of hosting Sub-Lieutenant Uchechukwu Erege. Sub-Lieutenant Erege, known to the ship’s crew as “UK,” is a hydrographer in the Nigerian Navy Hydrographic Office. The Nigerian Navy Hydrographic Office is the national hydrographic authority for the country and is responsible for conducting hydrographic surveys in territorial waters, ensuring nautical charts are up-to-date, processing bathymetric data, and providing Notice to Mariners for hazards to navigation.
UK joined the Nigerian Navy in 2012 after graduating with distinction from the University of Lagos with a bachelor’s and master’s degree in geoinformatics. He then completed a 10-month training program at the Nigerian Defense Academy before transitioning to his current position in the hydrography branch.
“At the time, the Nigerian Navy was searching for graduates in various technical fields,” UK says, “and joining the Navy was a great opportunity to serve my country and secure a job in my field of study.”
The United States and Nigeria are both member States of the International Hydrographic Organization (IHO), whose primary aim is to ensure the world’s oceans and navigable waterways are surveyed and charted. Through a grant funded by IHO and the government of South Korea, members of developing countries are able to attain higher education in the field of hydrography. UK was awarded this grant in 2014 and used it to attend the University of Mississippi’s 12-month master’s program in hydrographic science.
“My wife, Ezinne, has been very supportive during my time in the U.S.,” UK explains. “I would not have had as much success here without her.”
During his time at the University of Mississippi, a professor put him in contact with Captain Shep Smith, commanding officer of NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson. Through a recommendation from the Nigerian Chief of Naval Staff and Capt. Smith, UK augmented for three months on Thomas Jefferson.
“I thought it would be a good opportunity to see how hydrography is practiced outside of Africa,” UK says. “I wanted to develop new skills that would be an asset to my office. My experience at the University of Mississippi and on NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson has been a great way to network with other hydrographic entities and build international partnerships.”
While on Thomas Jefferson, UK gained hands-on experience as a sheet project manager, and in ship and hydrographic survey launch acquisition of multibeam and side scan sonar data, conductivity-temperature-depth casts, system integration, and troubleshooting.
“As a project manager, I was responsible for ensuring adequate data collection and maintaining good data management. The skills I gained on TJ will be a valuable asset when I return to Nigeria.”
UK proposes creating standard operating procedures in his office, for processing efficiency. An SOP for public affairs can also help inform the country of hydrographic survey projects. UK would also like to recommend more collaboration with international agencies, such as NOAA, and with Nigeria’s West African neighbors in regards to hydrography.
Ensign Peter Gleichauf presents Sub-Lt. Uchechukwu Erege with the NOAA Corps flag that Thomas Jefferson sailed with during his time augmenting on the ship. The entire crew signed the flag.
Sub-Lieutenant Uchechukwu Erege has been a valuable asset to the Thomas Jefferson crew and we wish him the best of luck in his future endeavors. Fair winds and following seas!
by Thomas Loeper, Coast Survey navigation manager for the Great Lakes
Have you ever wondered how scientists make short-term forecast water levels, currents, and water temperature for the Great Lakes? They use the National Ocean Service’s operational forecast systems. There are now five different computer forecast modeling systems running for the Great Lakes — one for each lake. The forecast guidance from these forecast systems supports a variety of activities, including environmental management, emergency response for incidents like hazardous materials spills, homeland security, and search and rescue, as well as safe and efficient navigation of recreational and commercial vessels along the entire Great Lakes system.
The current operational forecast systems have been operational since 2005/2006, and Coast Survey is planning upgrades in the coming years. The original forecast systems were developed in the early 1990s as a collaborative effort between NOAA’s National Ocean Service, the Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory, the National Weather Service, and the Ohio State University. They were the first civilian coastal ocean systems to produce regularly scheduled predictions for the U.S.
The new forecast systems will have double the forecast horizon, from 60 to 120 hours, and provide higher horizontal and vertical resolution predictions.
Model inputs include currents, winds, and temperatures
The inputs to the forecast systems include atmospheric forecasts and observations such as surface winds, cloud cover, air temperature, and dew point temperature, along with water levels, water temperatures, and tributary flows along its grid boundaries. To model the lake, scientists use an unstructured 3-D grid of points that extend from the surface to the bottom of the lake. The grid provides more detail in areas of great concern, i.e., in harbors or in chokepoints like the Straits of Mackinac between Lake Michigan and Lake Huron. NOAA feeds this information into a 3-D oceanographic circulation model to generate the forecast guidance.
Lakes Michigan and Huron operational forecast system grid detail in the Straits of Mackinac
Upgrades to the Great Lakes operational forecast systems
First, NOAA will update the forecast system for Lake Erie. The Lake Erie Operational Forecast System is expected to be operational by March 2016. By 2017, the upgraded system will help scientists forecast harmful algal bloom. Additionally, NOAA is developing an ice module to incorporate into the forecast systems for all the Great Lakes.
Upgraded Lake Erie operational forecast system grid with horizonal spacing from 400m to 3.5km
Second, we are developing a new combined forecast system: the Lakes Michigan and Huron Operational Forecast System. This model upgrade combines both lakes since they act — hydraulically — as one giant lake, essentially forming the largest lake in the world by surface area. This system is scheduled for operations sometime in 2018.
Nowcast/forecast graphics are available as map views from the Center for Operational Oceanographic Products and Services (CO-OPS) Operational Forecast System site. To view real-time and forecast conditions as web map services, use the recently upgraded nowCOAST. NowCOAST is a GIS-based webmap service providing more frequently updated observations for coastal and Great Lakes regions along with coastal and marine weather forecasts now available 24 hours a day.
nowCOAST image of surface water currents prediction from Lake Erie operational forecast system