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Blog Category: National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration

Secretary Locke Announces Fishery Failure Determination in Gulf of Mexico

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke today determined there has been a fishery disaster in the Gulf of Mexico due to the economic impact on commercial and recreational fisheries from the ongoing Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The affected area includes the states of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.

“We are taking this action today because of the potentially significant economic hardship this spill may cause fishermen and the businesses and communities that depend on those fisheries,” Locke said. “The disaster determination will help ensure that the Federal government is in a position to mobilize the full range of assistance that fishermen and fishing communities may need.”

Locke made the determination under Section 312(a) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act.  The declaration was made in response to requests from Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal and Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour based on the loss of access to many commercial fisheries and the existing and anticipated environmental damage from this unprecedented event.

Since May 2, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has closed a portion of federal waters affected by the spill to commercial and recreational fishing. This closure area, which is based on the scientific trajectory of the spill, now includes nearly 20 percent of federal waters in the Gulf of Mexico, largely between Louisiana state waters at the mouth of the Mississippi and the waters off Florida’s Pensacola Bay.

Full release
Related NOAA release

Latest NOAA status release on oil spill

NOAA: Ocean Stored Significant Warming Over Last 16 Years

The upper layer of the world’s ocean has warmed since 1993, indicating a strong climate change signal, according to a new study. The energy stored is enough to power nearly 500 100-watt light bulbs per each of the roughly 6.7 billion people on the planet.

“We are seeing the global ocean store more heatOcean waves breaking over rocks than it gives off,” said John Lyman, an oceanographer at NOAA’s Joint Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Research, who led an international team of scientists that analyzed nine different estimates of heat content in the upper ocean from 1993 to 2008.

The team combined the estimates to assess the size and certainty of growing heat storage in the ocean. Their findings will be published in the May 20 edition of the journal Nature. The scientists are from NOAA, NASA, the Met Office Hadley Centre in the United Kingdom, the University of Hamburg in Germany and the Meteorological Research Institute in Japan.

The team combined the estimates to assess the size and certainty of growing heat storage in the ocean. Their findings will be published in the May 20 edition of the journal Nature. The scientists are from NOAA, NASA, the Met Office Hadley Centre in the United Kingdom, the University of Hamburg in Germany and the Meteorological Research Institute in Japan.  

Read the full story here.

NOAA: Above-Normal Temperatures and Below-Normal Precipitation in April

Graphic of temperature mapNOAA's State of the Climate report shows the April 2010 average temperature for the contiguous United States was 54.3 degress F, which is 2.3 degrees F above the long-term (1901-2000) average (14th-warmest April on record). April's average precipitation was 2.18 inches, 0.25 inch below the 1901-2000 average, based on a 116-year record since 1895, this monthly analysis is prepared by scientists at NOAA's National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C. (Release) (Temperature graphic) (Precipitation graphic)

Secretary Locke, Secretary Napolitano and Administrator Lubchenco Visit Gulf Coast

Trajectory mapAt the direction of President Obama, Department of Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and NOAA Administrator Jane Lubchenco visited the Gulf Coast to meet with federal, state and local officials, and local business leaders as part of their continued oversight of BP’s efforts to plug the leak and contain the spill, and their ongoing emphasis on interagency coordination in response to the event. All three officials traveled to Biloxi, Miss. Locke and Napolitano continued on to Pensacola, Fla., in the afternoon. (NOAA-Deepwater) (Current trajectory map—PDF) (Incident News)

NOAA: Deepwater Horizon Incident, Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill Update

Photo of Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill from NASA Satellite

Improving weather today allowed both NOAA overflights and dispersant operations to resume. Today, four aircraft applied dispersants to the surface slick, and dispersant application by vessels is expected to begin tomorrow. Monitoring of the dispersant efforts are ongoing. NOAA overflights were conducted over the source as well as south from Mobile. At present, technical specialists and other personnel from many agencies and organizations are assisting NOAA in providing scientific support for the spill response. (Incident News)

NOAA: Deepwater Incident, Gulf of Mexico Effort

Trajectory map--PDF.

The Deepwater Horizon incident declared a Spill of National Significance (SONS). A SONS is defined as "a spill that, due to its severity, size, location, actual or potential impact on the public health and welfare or the environment, or the necessary response effort, is so complex that it requires extraordinary coordination of federal, state, local and responsible party resources to contain and clean up the discharge," and allows greater federal involvement. Commerce’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is assisting the Unified Command in evaluating a new technique to apply dispersants to oil at the source—5000’ below the surface. If successful, this would keep plumes and sheens from forming. (More) (NOAA-Deepwater) (Trajectory map 1—PDF) (IncidentNews: Deepwater Horizon)

NOAA Awards $73.6 Million Recovery Act Contract for New Fisheries Survey Vessel

NOAA logo

Commerce’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) awarded a $73.6 million American Recovery and Reinvestment Act contract to Marinette Marine Corporation located in Marinette, Wisconsin, for the construction of a new fisheries survey vessel, which will dramatically improve NOAA’s ability to conduct surveys for fish, marine mammals and turtles off the U.S. “Thanks to the Recovery Act, this new vessel will greatly enhance our understanding of our ocean resources and play a vital role in supporting NOAA’s mission,” said Jane Lubchenco, Ph.D., Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere and NOAA Administrator.” (More)

Commerce's NOAA Tracks Ash from Iceland Volcano

Image of video screen. Click to go to video clip.

Credit: NOAA/EUMESTAT/NASA

The eruption of a volcano under the Eyjafjallajokull glacier of Iceland on Wednesday, April 14, sent ripple effects around the globe as it halted international flights to and from Northern Europe. Airborne volcanic ash posed a threat to jet engines, and to prevent disaster, air traffic controllers grounded planes. From the earliest moments of the eruption, a global network of Volcanic Ash Advisory Centers began monitoring the ash plume and the appropriate centers issued advisories about flow of the ash through the atmosphere. There are nine such centers, each responsible for a defined geographic region. (More) (Video clip) (Image of ash cloud)

NOAA: Global Temps Push Last Month Hottest March on Record

Temperature anomolies map. Click for larger image.

The world’s combined global land and ocean surface temperature made last month the warmest March on record, according to Commerce’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Taken separately, average ocean temperatures were the warmest for any March and the global land surface was the fourth warmest for any March on record. Additionally, the planet has seen the fourth warmest January-March period on record. The monthly National Climatic Data Center analysis, which is based on records going back to 1880. (More) (Temperature anomalies graphic). (State of the Climate report)

NOAA: U.S. Averaged Warmer-than Normal, Drier-than-Normal in March

Map of March temperature. Click for larger image.

NOAA’s State of the Climate report shows the March 2010 average temperature for the entire contiguous United States was warmer-than-average with several New England states experiencing one of the warmest March’s on record. Average precipitation for the U.S. was below normal, but heavy rainfall set March records in parts of the Northeast. Based on data going back to 1895, the monthly analyses are prepared by scientists at NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, North Carolina. (More) (Temperatures) (Precipitation levels)