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Blog Category: Gulf

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's GOES-15 Weather Satellite Captures Its First Image of Earth

View of Eath taken by GOES-15. Click for larger image.

GOES-15, launched on March 4 from Cape Canaveral, Florida, joins three other NOAA operational GOES spacecraft that help the agency's forecasters track life-threatening weather—from tornadoes, floods and hurricanes—and solar activity that can impact the satellite-based electronics and communications industry. The black and white full-disk image shows North and South America with a storm system visible across the United States, indicated by a drape of clouds from New England westward to the central Plains. Further west is a cold front over the Rocky Mountains. Mostly clear skies are seen over the mid-Atlantic, southeastern U.S., Gulf of Mexico, California and Mexico. (More)

Norfolk, Va.-based NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson to Map Ocean Floor in Gulf of Mexico

Thomas Jefferson. Click for larger image.

Commerce’s NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson, one of the most technologically advanced hydrographic survey vessels in the world, will depart its Norfolk, Va. homeport on April 6 to conduct a five-month long effort to map the seafloor and look for hazards to navigation off the Gulf coast. “The Gulf of Mexico has been affected by a number of large hurricanes in recent years, and our work will pinpoint the resulting hazards and shoals in these busy waters,” said Cmdr. Shepard Smith, Thomas Jefferson’s commanding officer. (More)

Census Bureau Makes Special Efforts for Complete Count of Hurricane Affected Areas in the Gulf Coast

Hightower at table.

U.S. Commerce Deputy Secretary Dennis F. Hightower met with local government officials and community leaders to assess the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2010 Census efforts to ensure a complete count of Gulf Coast residents affected by hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Ike. “We hired early, provided extra training, added an extra local office, increased pay rates, and are delivering the form to any housing unit that is or may be habitable—all to ensure a complete count in hurricane-affected areas of the Gulf Coast,” Hightower said. (More) (2010 Census Web site)

NOAA Report Explains Sea Level Anomaly this Summer Along U.S. Atlantic Coast

Tide and Currents logo. Click to go to NOAA Center for Operational Oceanographic Products and Services Web site.

Persistent winds and a weakened current in the Mid-Atlantic contributed to higher than normal sea levels along the Eastern Seaboard in June and July, according to a new technical report from Commerce’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). After observing water levels six inches to two feet higher than originally predicted, NOAA scientists began analyzing data from select tide stations and buoys from Maine to Florida and found that a weakening of the Florida Current Transport—an oceanic current that feeds into the Gulf Stream—in addition to steady and persistent Northeast winds, contributed to this anomaly. (More)

NOAA: Smaller Than Expected, But Severe, Dead Zone in Gulf of Mexico

Image of mouth of Mississippi River showing nutrient run-off. Click for animated vizualization.

Commerce’s NOAA-supported scientists, led by Nancy Rabalais, Ph.D. from the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium, found the size of this year’s Gulf of Mexico dead zone to be smaller than forecasted, measuring 3,000 square miles. However, the dead zone, which is usually limited to water just above the sea floor, was severe where it did occur, extending closer to the water surface than in most years. Earlier this summer, NOAA-sponsored forecast models predicted a larger than normal dead zone area of between 7,450–8,456 square miles. (More) (Graphic of Dead Zone)(NOAA Visualization)

NOAA Forecasts Predicts large "Dead Zone" for Gulf of Mexico this Summer

Image of mouth of Mississippi River showing nutrient run-off. Click for data visualization.

A team of NOAA-supported scientists from the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium, Louisiana State University, and the University of Michigan is forecasting that the “dead zone” off the coast of Louisiana and Texas in the Gulf of Mexico this summer could be one of the largest on record. The dead zone is an area in the Gulf of Mexico where seasonal oxygen levels drop too low to support most life in bottom and near-bottom waters. The mouth of the Mississippi River (imaged here) is an example of how nutrient run-off creates plankton blooms. (More) (NOAA Visualization)

Commerce Secretary Announces $19.5 Million More for Ike/Gustav Recovery Efforts

EDA seal.

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke announced an additional $19.5 million in Economic Development Administration (EDA) investments to aid the ongoing economic recovery following the devastation caused last year by hurricanes Ike and Gustav. Last week, the Obama Administration announced $20.9 million of investments for the Gulf Coast region to assist in the recovery. “The Obama Administration is committed to creating jobs, encouraging innovation and improving our nation’s competitiveness,” Locke said. (More)

NOAA Report: Four Fish Stocks Declared Fully Rebuilt

Monkfish in buckets. Click for larger image.

NOAA’s Fisheries Service of the Commerce Department reported to Congress that four stocks—Atlantic bluefish, Gulf of Mexico king mackerel and two stocks of monkfish in the Atlantic—have been rebuilt to allow for continued sustainable fishing. This is the largest number of stocks to be declared rebuilt in a single year since the fisheries service declared the first stock successfully rebuilt in 2001. “Rebuilding these four stocks so they can support the highest sustainable harvest for future generations of Americans is a significant milestone,” said Jim Balsiger, acting NOAA assistant administrator for NOAA’s Fisheries Service. (More)