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Blog Category: National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration

Commerce Department Mobilizes to Assist Relief Efforts in Haiti

Help for Haiti icon. Click to go to Web site.

The U.S. Department of Commerce is mobilizing to assist in the earthquake relief efforts in Haiti. “In response to President Obama’s pledge of support, the Department of Commerce has mobilized resources to assist the Haitian people,” said Commerce Secretary Gary Locke. Commerce’s NOAA is sending a multi-tiered disaster response team to conduct emergency surveys and damage assessment of key Haitian ports. BIS is expediting the licensing process to speed up the export of humanitarian items. For more information on the effort and what you can do to help, visit the White House’s site on earthquake relief. (More) (Haiti Earthquake Relief Web site)

NOAA Satellites Help Rescue 195 People in 2009

Image of COSPAS-SARSAT Systems overview. Click for larger image.

NOAA’s fleet of satellites played a vital role in the rescues of 195 people during life-threatening situations throughout the U.S. and its surrounding waters in 2009. In each incident, NOAA satellites pinpointed these downed pilots, shipwrecked mariners, or stranded hikers by detecting a distress signal from an emergency beacon and relaying the information to first responders on the ground. NOAA’s polar-orbiting and geostationary satellites, along with Russia’s Cospas spacecraft, are part of the international Search and Rescue Satellite Aided Tracking system, called COSPAS-SARSAT. (More) (Rescue at sea photo)

NOAA Ranks December Snowstorm a Category 3 on Northeast Snowfall Impact Scale

Graphic of snowfall accumulation from Dec. 18-21, 2009 storm. Click for larger image

To the surprise of no one affected by the Dec. 18-20, 2009 system that dumped heavy snow from the mid-Atlantic to southern New England, NOAA has rated the storm a Category 3 or “Major” winter storm on NOAA’s Northeast Snowfall Impact Scale, also known as NESIS. Topping the NESIS scale—and the only storms rated Category 5—are the “Superstorm” on March, 1993 followed by the “Blizzard of ’96” in January, 1996. The scale, developed in 2004, catalogues storms dating back to 1888. (More)

NOAA Highlights Tsunami Advances, Urges Quick Action When Tsunami Threatens

Logo of TsunamiReady Community. Click to go to TsunamiReady Web site.

NOAA’s TsunamiReady Community

In December 2004, lack of an effective international warning system contributed to unprecedented loss of life when a tsunami devastated countless communities around the Indian Ocean and stunned the rest of the world. Through Commerce’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the United States accelerated preparation for a potential tsunami along the U.S. coastline and efforts to build partnerships for an international warning program. According to NOAA tsunami experts, the key to surviving a destructive tsunami is people’s ability to receive warnings and willingness to act quickly to move inland or to higher ground. (More)

NOAA Assesses Post-Tsunami Marine Debris in American Samoa

Submerged marine debris off Amanave Village in southwestern Tutuila. Click for larger image.

A team from Commerce’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has begun a survey of marine debris generated by the devastating September 29 tsunami in American Samoa. The team is carefully measuring the amount and impact of debris such as roofing and domestic goods in coral reef habitat near villages severely affected by the tsunami. Tsunamis are a natural occurrence, and corals can recover from damage by waves, sediment and plant debris resulting from a tsunami. Marine debris, however, can be very different. (More)

NOAA: U.S. Temperatures Slightly Above Average, Precipitation Above Normal for 2009

Map showing U.S. temeperatures. Click for full-size map.

Global surface temperatures for 2009 will be well above the long-term average, while the annual temperature for the contiguous United States will likely be above the long-term average, according to a preliminary analysis by NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C. The analysis is based on global records, which began in 1880 and U.S. records beginning in 1895. (More) (Temp map) (Precip map) (Precip 1895-2009 graph)

Commerce Department Launches Copenhagen Climate Change Conference Web Site

U.S. COP-15 logo. Click to go to Web site.

The Department of Commerce has launched a Web site devoted to the participation of the United States in the 15th session of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Copenhagen, Denmark, Dec. 7-18. In cooperation with the U.S. State Department’s U.S. Center, the Web site, www.commerce.gov/cop15/, will include daily schedules, links to related content and live Webcasts from the U.S. Center. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke and NOAA Administrator Jane Lubchenco will participate as major speakers at the conference. The Web site link will be available on the right navigation bar of the Commerce homepage for the duration of the conference. (Web site) (NOAA at Copenhagen)

Glider Completes Historic Crossing: New Technology Advances Climate Understanding

Photo of the Scarlet Knight. Click for larger image.

The first-ever 7,300-mile Atlantic Ocean crossing by an unmanned underwater glider is opening up a new world of ocean technology. A ceremony on Dec. 9 in Baiona, Spain, will celebrate the partnership effort among the U.S. interagency Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS) through Rutgers University, NOAA, Puertos Del Estado (Spanish Port Authority), the National Oceanographic Partnership Program, and other European partners. “It is through efforts like this that we will continue to learn more about the wonders of the ocean at a critical time for our planet,” said Richard Spinrad, NOAA assistant administrator for oceanic and atmospheric research. (More)

NOAA: North American 2008 Cooling Attributed to Natural Causes

NOAA map

Cooler North American temperatures in 2008 resulted from a strong natural effect, and the overall warming trend that has been observed since 1970 is likely to resume, according to university and NOAA scientists. “Our work shows that there can be cold periods, but that does not mean the end of global warming. The recent coolness was caused by transitory natural factors that temporarily masked the human-caused signal,” said Judith Perlwitz, lead author of the study and a researcher with the Cooperative Institute for Research Environmental Sciences, and NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory. (More)

NOAA: Slow Atlantic Hurricane Season Comes to a Close

Map tracing paths of hurricanes. Click for full-size.

NOAA map

The 2009 Atlantic hurricane season officially ends today, marking the close of a season with the fewest named storms and hurricanes since 1997 thanks, in part, to El Niño. Commerce’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reported nine named storms formed this year, including three hurricanes, two of which were major hurricanes at Category 3 strength or higher. These numbers fall within the ranges predicted in NOAA’s mid-season outlook issued in August, which called for seven to 11 named storms, three to six hurricanes, and one to two major hurricanes. (More)