Commerce.gov is getting a facelift soon. See the new design.
Syndicate content

Blog Category: National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration

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.

Secretary Pritzker Tours NOAA’s Western Regional Center in Seattle

Secretary Pritzker is joined by Commerce employees at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Western Regional Center in Seattle, Washington

As part of her nationwide listening tour, Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker yesterday visited the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Western Regional Center in Seattle, Washington, the largest NOAA facility outside of Washington, D.C. She thanked NOAA employees for their hard work, which she said was critical to Commerce’s mission. The Secretary also toured parts of NOAA’s Office of Response and Restoration and NOAA Fisheries Service. 

On the tour of the Western Regional Center, Secretary Pritzker learned specifically about two different kinds of tsunami detection buoys that NOAA has developed and has now been commercialized by private industry. The buoys are now built commercially and sold to many different countries, thus providing a standardized tsunami detection and warning system for the world as well as creating U.S. jobs and increasing U.S. exports.  A partnership between the National Weather Service and Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory has made tsunami forecasting and warning more accurate than ever before, while helping to promote the development of tsunami forecasting capabilities in other countries.

Secretary Pritzker also visited the Office of Response and Restoration where Secretary Pritzker learned about the tools they build and maintain that emergency responders depend on nationwide. These tools provide the best available science data to federal, state, and local responders when they need it most, predicting chemical reactions, oil spill and marine debris trajectories, and oil weathering during emergencies.  From preparedness and response through recovery, the NOAA Office of Response and Restoration protects the United States’ coastal and marine environment from threats including marine debris, releases from hazardous waste sites, and oil and chemical spills.

Commerce Department Encourages Businesses to Prepare Now for Future Emergencies and Disasters

National Preparedness Month Graphic

September is National Preparedness Month. It is crucial that businesses, in addition to government officials and the public, take steps now to prepare for future emergencies or natural disasters. The Commerce Department is encouraging business owners to be good corporate citizens by establishing a plan to help lessen the economic impact of disasters within their communities. Here are three things business owners can do today to prepare for future emergencies and disasters:

  1. Have a business continuity plan. This plan can help protect businesses, employees, and infrastructure, and increase chances of recovery after a disaster.
  2. Know your risks. Gather information about local hazards by contacting your local emergency management office, American Red Cross chapter and NOAA's National Weather Service forecast office.
  3. Become a StormReady community. Being StormReady means your business has multiple ways to receive forecasts and warnings from the National Weather Service, monitors local weather conditions, communicates effectively with employees, promotes public readiness through community seminars, and has a formal hazardous weather plan. 

According to a report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Climatic Data Center, Americans coped with 11 weather and climate disaster events in 2012, including seven severe weather and tornado events, two tropical cyclone events, a year-long drought and wildfires. The impacts of this weather have a significant effect on the U.S. economy. In addition to killing over 300 people, the events in 2012 caused more than $110 billion in damages, having particularly devastating economic effects on the impacted areas. That makes last year’s disaster costs second only to 2005, which incurred $160 billion in damages. 

These effects can be felt by businesses that don't reopen after a storm, which also negatively impacts communities and the local economy. The American Red Cross reports that as many as 40 percent of businesses fail following a disaster. But businesses that are weather-ready don't have to be part of this statistic. 

The time is now. Businesses can’t afford to be unprepared, particularly with the peak of hurricane season now in full swing. Implementing the suggested recommendations can help businesses and communities survive natural disasters and sustain their local economies. 

For more information on how businesses can prepare for an emergency, visit www.ready.gov/business.

Shark Week? At NOAA Fisheries, Every Week is Shark Week

Alternate Text

Sharks thrill us because they’re mysterious, powerful, terrifying, and beautiful. That’s why there’s a Shark Week. And, as top predators in the marine ecosystem, sharks are also vital to the health of the ocean. That’s why there’s a corps of NOAA Fisheries scientists and managers who are dedicated to researching and protecting sharks. This week, on the NOAA Fisheries website, you can meet our shark experts.

You can also check out a very cool and—don’t say we didn’t warn you—disgusting video of our expert, Antonella Preti, dissecting the stomach of a 12-foot-long, 1,300 pound shortfin mako shark. She specializes in the feeding ecology of sharks, or more specifically she studies what’s in their stomachs. By analyzing the contents of more than 2,000 swordfish and shark stomachs, Preti and her colleagues have built a database of who eats who in the ocean, an essential tool for managing fisheries. Preti shows us it really takes guts to be a scientist.

Also, meet Lisa Natanson, an expert on the life history of sharks, and see her role in analyzing the age of the shortfin mako. A shark backbone has rings much like those of a tree that can help a scientist determine a shark’s age. On Thursday, August 8, at 2:00 p.m. EST, Natanson and Preti will hold a live tweet chat to answer your questions about shark science and anything you might want to know about the shortfin mako.

John Carlson is a shark scientist whose research focuses on rebuilding vulnerable populations of sharks and sustainably managing shark fisheries. Listen to this podcast to hear Carlson discuss his research into whether sharks are more likely to survive if caught on a circle hook instead of the more common J hook.

You’ll also find loads of other shark content, from videos to photos to interviews with more experts.

At NOAA Fisheries, our goal is to sustainably manage shark populations so that we can continue to enjoy the economic and ecological benefits they provide. And we do that every week of the year. So visit our website at www.fisheries.noaa.govduring Shark Week, and learn what we’re doing to create a sustainable future for sharks.

Readout of U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker’s Visit With Commerce Employees in Boulder, Colorado

Readout of U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker’s Visit With Commerce Employees in Boulder, Colorado

While in Boulder, Colorado, as part of her nationwide listening tour, U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker today met with employees from the Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Approximately 1,600 department staff and affiliates are located at the Boulder facility, and the Commerce Boulder Laboratories is the largest  department facility outside Washington, DC.

Secretary Pritzker first held a town hall with approximately 350 employees from the three agencies as part of her commitment to engage with and hear directly from all Commerce employees about their work. The secretary emphasized how their work is crucial to creating a better quality of life for Americans and more opportunities for entrepreneurs and businesses. She also asked employees for their input in the department’s ongoing efforts to protect, promote and inform what America needs to be competitive and innovative in the 21st century.

Readout of U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker’s Visit to Boulder, Colorado

Andrea Chavez, Director of Manufacturing, Ball Aerospace; Rob Strain, President, Ball Aerospace; Penny Pritzker, Secretary of Commerce visit during a tour of Ball’s Boulder manufacturing facility on Thursday.

Today, U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker traveled to Boulder, Colorado, to kick off her nationwide listening tour. Upon her swearing in, Secretary Pritzker announced that she would travel the country to meet with, and hear from, business and community leaders, entrepreneurs, and Commerce Department employees to discuss how public-private partnerships can strengthen the economy and create jobs.

Secretary Pritzker met with Boulder Mayor Matthew Appelbaum to thank him and the city council for their long-standing support of Commerce’s three Boulder laboratories, which are run by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the National Institute of Standards and Technology, and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration. The two talked about CO-LABS (Colorado Leveraging Assets for Better Science), a consortium of the 24 labs, universities, businesses, local governments, and community leaders organized to establish Colorado as a global leader in research, technology, and their commercialization, as well as other initiatives to fuel economic growth in the region through increased promotion and investment in innovation.

Next, Secretary Pritzer toured Ball Aerospace and Technologies Corp., a company that produces spacecraft instruments and sensors, radio frequency and microwave technologies, and a variety of advanced aerospace technologies and products. In addition to Mayor Appelbaum, she was joined by several Ball Aerospace executives, including president Rob Strain, North America metal packaging president Mike Hranicka, and chief financial officer Scott Morrison.