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Blog Category: National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration

NOAA Issues Arctic Report Card: Long-Term Warming and Environmental Change Trends Persist in 2013

NOAA Announces 2013 Arctic Report Card

According to a new report released today by NOAA and its partners, cooler temperatures in the summer of 2013 across the central Arctic Ocean, Greenland and northern Canada moderated the record sea ice loss and extensive melting that the surface of the Greenland ice sheet experienced last year. Yet there continued to be regional extremes, including record low May snow cover in Eurasia and record high summer temperatures in Alaska.

The findings were released today by David M. Kennedy, NOAA’s deputy under secretary for operations, during a press briefing at the American Geophysical Union annual meeting in San Francisco. Kennedy stated the Arctic caught a bit of a break in 2013 from the recent string of record-breaking warmth and ice melt of the last decade.  Kennedy joined other scientists to release the Arctic Report Card 2013, which has, since 2006, summarized changing conditions in the Arctic. One hundred forty-seven authors from 14 countries contributed to the peer-reviewed report. 

In 2006, NOAA’s Climate Program Office introduced the State of the Arctic Report which established a baseline of conditions at the beginning of the 21st century. It is updated annually as the Arctic Report Card to document the often-quickly changing conditions in the Arctic. In addition, for the first time, scientists also released new information on marine fishes and black carbon.  

NOAA’s Stunning Science On a Sphere® Now in 100 Locations Worldwide

Image of the Spehere

A glowing six-foot diameter sphere, suspended from the ceiling of NOAA headquarters in Silver Spring, Md., is the 100th Science On a Sphere® installed around the world. The 3-D display system, which was unveiled November 22, illuminates awe-inspiring animations of planet Earth and is used by educators, curators and scientists alike to explore global environmental data, such as swirling hurricanes, clouds and ocean currents. 

Science On a Sphere® (SOS) is seen by 33 million people annually in 15 countries, 27 U.S. states, the District of Columbia and American Samoa. Using computers and video projectors, the system displays planetary data on an opaque carbon fiber sphere, and presenters can draw from more than 400 annotated datasets to highlight weather observations, climate models, ocean acidification plus the latest solar system imagery.  Read more

NOAA: Much Colder Air In Store for Plains, Heavy Rain, Snow and Mixed Precipitation

Map of U.S. with temperature predictions

Arctic front will bring coldest weather so far this season

The Department of Commerce's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) issued its annual winter outlook today through the National Weather Service. 

A cold front moving across the Plains will bring temperatures plummeting as much as 10-25 degrees below normal across much of the central and northern Plains on Thursday, as well as areas of heavy snow across parts of the Rockies and central Plains Thursday into Friday. Mixed precipitation is forecast for parts of the southern Plains into the Southwest, with heavy rain possible across the Desert Southwest. Read more For interactive map, visit http://www.weather.gov/.

Commerce Achieves Record Veteran Hiring Numbers in 2013

Veterans Day 2013 - Honoring All Who Served

In honor of Veterans Day, we wanted to take a moment to highlight the Department of Commerce’s commitment to hiring veterans. In Fiscal Year 2013, 13.2 percent of new Commerce hires were veterans and 3.6 percent were disabled veterans, the highest numbers of veterans the Department has employed in over 20 years.

The Department of Commerce (DOC) Veteran Employment Council, made up of volunteer human resources (HR) specialists, advisors, and program managers, plays a major role in hiring and retaining veterans and works with the individuals once they come on board.

“Here at Commerce, we take hiring veterans very seriously,” said Kevin Mahoney, Commerce’s Chief Human Capital Officer and Director, Office of Human Resources Management. “I would like to thank the DOC Veteran Employment Council for their hard work throughout the year, and we look forward to seeing even higher numbers next year.”

This year, the Department of Commerce trained over 3,100 hiring managers and human resources specialists on veterans’ preference and special appointing authorities for veterans and disabled veterans. Top performing agencies in the Department of Commerce for veteran hiring include the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) at 31.8 percent, the Office of the Secretary (OS) at 20 percent, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) at 16.2 percent and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) at 13.2 percent.

Spotlight on Commerce: Dr. Daniel Meléndez, Meteorologist, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Weather Service, Department of Commerce

Photo of Daniel Meléndez

Ed. note: This post is part of the Spotlight on Commerce series highlighting members of the Department of Commerce and their contributions to an Economy Built to Last.

Guest blog post by Dr. Daniel Meléndez, Meteorologist, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Weather Service, Department of Commerce

At the National Weather Service, my main responsibility at the Office of Science and Technology is to support and manage science and technology infusion in the areas of radar meteorology, severe weather, and tropical cyclones. I also handle grants for the Hurricane Forecast Improvement Program. During my detail in the Office of the Federal Coordinator for Meteorology, I staff the National Hurricane Operations Plan, road weather management, air transport and dispersion, Multipurpose Phased Array Radar, air domain awareness issues, and the Interdepartmental Hurricane Conference.

I am committed to public service because weather information is ultimately an economic driver and because science provides enormous benefits to the public. Strengthening science and technology that enables better weather information provides many benefits to both the public and private sectors, saves lives and property, and even provides the foundation for new businesses. My role in managing science and technology infusion helps improve performance through new science and technology strengthens core economic and public infrastructure. In my current detail I support various interagency meteorological efforts that allow me to see and contribute to larger governmental aims to advance the economic and security interests of society.

Commerce Teams Receive GreenGov Presidential Award

Today, the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) announced the fourth annual winners of the GreenGov Presidential Awards, which honor Federal civilian and military personnel, as well as agency teams, facilities and programs that have taken innovative steps to reduce energy use and carbon pollution, curb waste, and save taxpayer dollars.

The Department of Commerce and a team from Commerce’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) were recognized as two of the eight award winners during a ceremony with senior administration officials today.

A team of National Marine Fisheries Service scientists and engineers at the Ted Stevens Research Institute in Juneau, Alaska, received an award in the category of Lean, Clean and Green for using seawater as a heat source to replace oil-fueled heat pumps and eliminate all carbon emissions. The staff developed a system to extract heat from seawater already being pumped through the lab to support research activities. The seawater heat pump is the latest of three projects the facility has spearheaded in order to reach zero carbon emissions.

The Department of Commerce was recognized for its joint efforts with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Department of Homeland Security, and the U.S. Global Change Research Program in the Climate Champion award category. The Federal agencies partnered to create an interactive sea level rise mapping and calculator tool that helps city planners identify and prepare for future flood risks. The team released the tool less than a year after Hurricane Sandy, allowing state and local planners to make better informed decisions that consider the risk in location and design of redevelopment projects. The tool uses the most up-to-date scientific information by providing assessments of future risks beyond current conditions.

One Year After Sandy, Commerce Continues Helping Communities Rebuild

Satellite view of Superstorm Sandy, 10-29-12

One year ago today, Sandy made landfall along the mid-Atlantic coast. The storm devastated communities, families, and businesses. While it’s natural to reflect on the tremendous damage the storm wrought, today also presents us with an opportunity to look toward the future.

Before, during and immediately after the storm, the Department of Commerce provided information and data that helped save lives and property and get commerce flowing again. But our work hasn’t stopped and we continue to help in rebuilding efforts.

From spot-on forecasts delivered four days before the storm’s landfall to economic assistance to working to open ports, Commerce’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency (NOAA) and Economic Development Administration (EDA) have been standing with our federal agency partners to assist affected communities. In the last year, the Obama administration has provided direct assistance to more than 230,000 people and small businesses and has announced more than $39.7 billion in funding for recipients. 

EDA serves as the administration’s lead for economic recovery as part of the National Disaster Recovery Framework, which coordinates key areas of assistance in the wake of natural disasters. Since Sandy struck, EDA has provided targeted technical assistance through peer-to-peer forums to assist the New Jersey tourism industry, government procurement roundtables, “Access to Capital Meetings” to inform business resources of traditional and non-traditional financing mechanisms, and providing risk management resources to small businesses in the region. Ultimately, these initiatives have helped provide small businesses, local leaders, and economic development practitioners learn best practices and empowered them to undertake robust recovery efforts.

Celebrating National Seafood Month

fish, salmon, and shrimp in a display case

Hey, seafood lovers—did you know it’s National Seafood Month? The United States is a global leader in sustainable seafood, supporting an industry with 1.2 million jobs nationwide and adding $55 billion of value to the nation’s GDP in 2011 (Fisheries Economics of the U.S.). To celebrate, NOAA Fisheries is publishing great seafood stories, including science features, culinary Q&As, and seafood videos and podcasts.

Ensuring that both present and future generations can enjoy the benefits of sustainable seafood is a core responsibility of the Department of Commerce through NOAA Fisheries. From Alaska to Maine, U.S. seafood is responsibly harvested under a strong monitoring, management, and enforcement program that works to keep the marine environment healthy, fish populations thriving, and our seafood industry on the job.

Responsibly harvested seafood starts with sound science, and at the heart of fisheries science is the stock assessment. We break it down for you in this animated video—the ABC’s of stock assessments.

Sound science makes effective management possible. Since 2000, 34 overfished stocks have been rebuilt, including the most recent—the southern stock of black sea bass.

United States Department of Commerce Plan for Orderly Shutdown Due to Lapse of Congressional Appropriations

Annual funding for the government expired on September 30. The Administration strongly believed that a lapse in funding should not occur. The Department is prepared for a lapse in funding that would necessitate a significant reduction in operations. Prior to a potential lapse in funding, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) required the Department to submit a draft plan for agency operations (PDF) in the absence of appropriations (a “shutdown plan”).

The plan may be modified with additional guidance from the Office of Personnel Management and OMB, and may be changed by the Department, as circumstances warrant. This plan (PDF) complies with the guidance provided by the Office of Management and Budget, the Department of Justice and the Department of Commerce. All employees who are Presidentially Appointed, Senate Confirmed will remain on duty.

In compliance with the restrictions of the Anti-Deficiency Act, the Department of Commerce will maintain the following services and activities during a lapse in FY14 appropriations:

• Weather, water, and climate observing, prediction, forecast, warning, and support
• Law enforcement activities for the protection of marine fisheries
• Fisheries management activities including quota monitoring, observer activities, and regulatory actions to prevent overfishing
• Essential natural resource damage assessment activities associated with the Deepwater Horizon incident
• Water level data for ships entering U.S. ports, critical nautical chart updates and accurate position information.
• Patent and trademark application processing
• Operation of the national timing and synchronization infrastructure as well as the National Vulnerability Database
• Maintenance, continuity and protection of certain research property and critical data records
• All services of the National Technical Information Service
• Export enforcement – the ongoing conduct of criminal investigations, and prosecutions, and coordination with other law enforcement and intelligence agencies in furtherance of our national security
• Budget operations required to support excepted activities under a shutdown, such as tracking of obligations and funds control.

The following services and activities will not be available during a lapse in FY14 appropriations:

• Most research activities at NIST and NOAA (excluding real-time regular models on research computers used for Hurricane and FAA flight planning)
• Assistance and support to recipients of grant funding
• Technical oversight of non-mission essential contracts
• Services and activities provided by:
−Bureau of Economic Analysis
−Economic Development Administration
−Economics and Statistics Administration
−Minority Business Development Agency
−Bureau of the Census
• Most services and activities provided by the International Trade Administration

Back in Black: Black Sea Bass Stock is Rebuilt

Black Sea Bass

The wait wasn’t easy but it’s over. NOAA Fisheries has declared the southern stock of black sea bass successfully rebuilt. With that, the combined commercial and recreational catch limit for this popular species has more than doubled, to 1.8 million pounds.

The southern stock of black sea bass ranges from Cape Hatteras, NC to the Florida Keys. For the communities along that stretch of coast, the higher catch limit is extremely good news.

According to the latest Fisheries Economics of the U.S. report, in 2011 recreational fishing in this region supported more than 52,000 jobs and added just short of $3 billion of value to the nation’s GDP.

Among recreational anglers, black sea bass is one of the most popular fish throughout its range. Those anglers will now be chasing black sea bass for about 6 months each summer and fall. In recent years, the season lasted about half that long.

Black sea bass is also an important commercial species. Although the economic impact from commercial fishing is less overall, it will be felt strongly in the Carolinas, where the commercial black sea bass fleet is concentrated.