2.5 A National Strategy for a Sustained Network of Coastal Moorings

Monday, 23 January 2017: 5:00 PM
Conference Center: Chelan 4 (Washington State Convention Center )
Shannon McArthur, NDBC, Stennis Space Center, MS; and K. E. Bailey, T. Murphy, J. Newton, C. Janzen, R. Morrison, S. Ruberg, U. Send, and H. Worthington

Environmental observations collected from the ocean, estuaries, and the Great Lakes are critical to the success of the nation’s economy.  This information equips NOAA and its partners to monitor, prepare, and respond to events threatening coastal communities, human health and safety, and vulnerable ecosystems; to support a productive and efficient economy through safe marine transportation; and to understand the impacts of a changing climate to prepare informed adaptation and mitigation strategies.   

Many of these observations are made from coastal moorings, which are instrumented buoys or a configuration of instruments suspended below the surface that are anchored to the ocean floor by a cable or line. Coastal moorings allow for the deployment of multiple sensors that measure many variables, including temperature, salinity, currents, dissolved oxygen, and nitrates. These types of observing systems provide in-situ water column and surface expression information.

The marine transportation industry, the tourism industry, the military, and coastal and emergency managers are among numerous stakeholders who rely on observations from coastal moorings.  Recent incidents involving the threat of disestablishment of long-term moorings near Tillamook, Oregon and Cape Canaveral, Florida due to funding constraints highlighted this dependence. The stakeholders of those communities were vocal about how they used the data and the impact of losing such important information. As a result, the NOAA National Data Buoy Center (NDBC) and the Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS) worked together to ensure the observations from these moorings remained available to stakeholders. However, these incidents also revealed a larger need for a plan to sustain the network of critical coastal moorings.

Therefore, the National Strategy for a Sustained Network of Coastal Moorings (the Strategy) to identify, preserve, monitor, and adaptively manage and integrate a network of coastal moorings was developed to establish a framework for in-depth planning and implementation of a sustained national coastal mooring network. It enables enhanced integrated stakeholder management by establishing a planning framework by which operators, users, and stakeholders of the coastal mooring network may stay engaged, provide cyclic peer review, and offer input into the progressively evolving architecture and design of the network.

The scope of the Strategy focuses on coastal moorings, while recognizing and considering other related civil earth observations and complementary ocean observing systems. The network is an integrated piece of a full system of sustained civil earth observations.

The Strategy defines categories for coastal moorings and offers a high-level regional analysis of known observational gaps that could best be addressed with coastal moorings. This analysis is a first step toward formal engagement with regional stakeholders to optimize future infrastructure design. The Strategy provides nine recommendations to achieve a sustainable national network of coastal moorings.

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