Posts Tagged ‘noaa’

NOAA’s U.S. Winter Outlook Calls for Variability

Saturday, January 17th, 2009

With the absence of La Niña and El Niño in the equatorial Pacific Ocean this season (climate patterns that give forecasters clues about potential weather events months in advance), predicting weather patterns on seasonal timescales becomes increasingly challenging. Instead, other climate patterns over the Arctic and North Atlantic regions may play a significant role in influencing U.S. winter weather.

“These patterns are only predictable a week or two in advance and could persist for weeks at a time,” said Michael Halpert, deputy director, Climate Prediction Center. “Therefore, we expect variability, or substantial changes in temperature and precipitation across much of the country.”

What is Aquaculture?

Saturday, January 17th, 2009

NOAA — Aquaculture – often referred to as fish farming or shellfish farming – is the art, science, and business of cultivating aquatic animals in fresh or marine waters for consumption and to supplement commercial and recreational fisheries. About 70 percent of the aquaculture in the U.S. is fresh water farming of catfish and trout. Marine aquaculture is just 20 percent of the entire U.S. industry. Most marine aquaculture is shellfish farming, such as oysters, clams, and mussels. Only a few U.S. farms grow marine finfish, including salmon, cod, cobia, Hawaiian yellowtail, and Pacific threadfin (moi).

Similar to farms on land, fish and shellfish farms come in various sizes and types – from small, family-owned commercial farms to large companies. Local, state and federal agencies, research institutions, and tribes run aquaculture facilities that produce the eggs used to farm many freshwater and marine species.

Currently, more than 80 percent of the seafood Americans eat is imported, and half of that comes from aquaculture. It is vital that the United States further develop its own sustainable aquaculture industry, both to reduce its annual $9 billion seafood import deficit and to keep pace with the growing demand for seafood.

NOAA’s Aquaculture Program is dedicated to fostering safe, sustainable aquaculture in collaboration with other NOAA offices including NOAA’s Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research and NOAA’s National Ocean Service.

NOAA: 2008 Global Temperature Ties as Eighth Warmest on Record

Friday, January 16th, 2009

The year 2008 tied with 2001 as the eighth warmest year on record for the Earth, based on the combined average of worldwide land and ocean surface temperatures through December, according to a preliminary analysis by NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C. For December alone, the month also ranked as the eighth warmest globally, for the combined land and ocean surface temperature. The assessment is based on records dating back to 1880.

The analyses in NCDC’s global reports are based on preliminary data, which are subject to revision. Additional quality control is applied to the data when late reports are received several weeks after the end of the month and as increased scientific methods improve NCDC’s processing algorithms.

NCDC’s ranking of 2008 as the eighth warmest year compares to a ranking of ninth warmest based on an analysis by NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies. The NOAA and NASA analyses differ slightly in methodology, but both use data from NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center – the federal government’s official source for climate data.

Global Temperature Highlights – 2008

The combined global land and ocean surface temperature from January-December was 0.88 degree F (0.49 degree C) above the 20th Century average of 57.0 degrees F (13.9 degrees C). Since 1880, the annual combined global land and ocean surface temperature has increased at a rate of 0.09 degree F (0.05 degree C) per decade. This rate has increased to 0.29 degree F (0.16 degree C) per decade over the past 30 years.
Separately, the global land surface temperature for 2008, through December, was sixth warmest, with an average temperature 1.46 degrees F (0.81 degree C) above the 20th Century average of 47.3 degrees F (8.5 degrees C).
Also separately, the global ocean surface temperature for 2008, through December, was 0.67 degree F (0.37 degree C) above the 20th Century average of 60.9 degrees F (16.1 degrees C) and ranked tenth warmest.
Global Temperature Highlights – December 2008

The December combined global land and ocean surface temperature was 0.86 degree F (0.48 degree C) above the 20th Century average of 54.0 degrees F (12.2 degrees C).
Separately, the December 2008 global land surface temperature was 1.22 degrees F (0.68 degree C) above the 20th Century average of 38.7 degrees F (3.7 degrees C) and ranked 14th warmest.
For December, the global ocean surface temperature was 0.74 degree F (0.41 degree C) above the 20th Century average of 60.4 degrees F (15.7 degrees C) and tied with December 2001 and December 2005 as sixth warmest.
Other Global Highlights for 2008

The United States recorded a preliminary total of 1,690 tornadoes during 2008, which is well above the 10-year average of 1,270 and ranks as the second highest annual total since reliable records began in 1953. The high number of tornado-related fatalities during the first half of the year made 2008 the 10th deadliest with a 2008 total of 125 deaths.
Northern Hemisphere snow cover extent in December was 16.95 million square miles (43.91 million square kilometers). This was 0.17 million square miles (0.43 million square kilometers) above the 1966-2008 December average. Northern Hemisphere snow cover extent was below average for most of 2008.
Arctic sea ice extent in 2008 reached its second lowest melt season extent on record in September. The minimum of 1.80 million square miles (4.67 million square kilometers) was 0.80 million square miles (2.09 million square kilometers) below the 1979-2000 average minimum extent.
NOAA understands and predicts changes in the Earth’s environment, from the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun, and conserves and manages our coastal and marine resources.

NOAA Gives Navy Marine Mammal Protection Measures for Sonar Training off Hawaii

Tuesday, January 13th, 2009

January 12, 2009

NOAA’s Fisheries Service has issued regulations and a letter of authorization to the U.S. Navy to impact marine mammals while conducting training exercises around the main Hawaiian Islands. The regulations require the Navy to implement measures designed to protect and minimize effects to marine mammals.

The Navy requested authorization under the Marine Mammal Protection Act because the mid-frequency sound generated by tactical active sonar, and the sound and pressure generated by detonating explosives, may affect the behavior of some marine mammals or cause a temporary loss of their hearing.

NOAA’s Fisheries Service does not expect the exercises to result in serious injury or death to marine mammals, and is requiring the Navy to use mitigation measures intended to avoid injury or death. However, in a small number of cases, exposure to sonar in certain circumstances has been associated with the stranding of some marine mammals, and some injury or death potentially could occur despite the best efforts of the Navy. Therefore, the regulations and the letter allow for incidental impacts on marine mammals, including injury or death of up to 10 animals of each of 11 species over the five years covered by the regulations.

NOAA’s Fisheries Service has determined that these effects would have a negligible effect on the species or stocks involved.

Under the regulations and the letter, the Navy must follow mitigation measures to minimize effects on marine mammals, including:

establishing marine mammal safety zones around each vessel using sonar;
using Navy observers to shut down sonar operations if marine mammals are seen within designated safety zones;
using of exclusion zones to ensure that explosives are not detonated when animals are detected within a certain distance;
implementing a stranding response plan that includes a training shutdown provision in certain circumstances and a memorandum of agreement to allow the Navy to contribute in-kind services to NOAA’s Fisheries Service if the agency has to conduct a stranding response and investigation;
establishing an area of extra caution in the Maui Basin because of its high density of humpback whales.
These measures should minimize the potential for injury or death and significantly reduce the number of marine mammals exposed to levels of sound likely to cause temporary loss of hearing.

NOAA’s Fisheries Service and the Navy worked to develop a robust monitoring plan to use independent, experienced aerial and vessel-based marine mammal observers (as well as Navy watch standers), passive acoustic monitoring, and tagging to help better understand how marine mammals respond to various levels of sound and to assess the effectiveness of mitigation measures. The implementation of this monitoring plan is included as a requirement of the regulations and the letter.

The Navy has been conducting training exercises, including the use of mid-frequency sonar, in the Hawaiian Islands for more than 40 years. Exercises range from large multi-national, month-long training exercises using multiple submarines, ships, and aircraft conducted every other year, known as Rim of Pacific Training Exercises, to two- to three-day exercises to test the readiness of battle groups, known as Undersea Warfare Exercises or USWEXs, and shorter exercises that last less than a day. In addition, some exercises involve the use of explosives.

This regulation, in effect for five years, governs the incidental take of marine mammals during the Navy’s training activities, and includes required mitigation and monitoring measures. The letters of authorization, which are required for the Navy to legally conduct their activities, are issued annually, provided the Navy abides by the terms and conditions of the letter, submits the required annual reports, and shows their activities do not result in more numerous effects or more severe harm to marine mammals than were originally analyzed or authorized.

NOAA understands and predicts changes in the Earth’s environment, from the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun, and conserves and manages our coastal and marine resources.

NOAA’s Fisheries Service is dedicated to protecting and preserving our nation’s living marine resources and their habitat through scientific research, management and enforcement. NOAA’s Fisheries Service provides effective stewardship of these resources for the benefit of the nation, supporting coastal communities that depend upon them, and helping to provide safe and healthy seafood to consumers and recreational opportunities for the American public. To learn more, visit NOAA’s Fisheries Service Web site.

NOAA Will Work With Six Identified Nations to Address Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated Fishing

Tuesday, January 13th, 2009

January 13, 2009

NOAA today submitted the first ever report to Congress identifying nations – France, Italy, Libya, Panama, the People’s Republic of China, and Tunisia – whose fishing vessels were engaged in illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing in 2007 or 2008.

This opens the way for continued consultations between the U.S. government and officials of each of the six nations to encourage them to take corrective action to stop IUU fishing by their vessels.

Bluefin tuna, one of the species that are most affected by illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing.

High resolution (Credit: NOAA)
“Illegal fishing is a global problem that is depleting fish stocks and hurting the economies of nations and the livelihoods of people who depend on sustainable fishing,” said Dr. Jim Balsiger, NOAA acting assistant administrator for NOAA’s Fisheries Service. “Our report is part of stepped up efforts called for by Congress to work with other nations to stop illegal fishing on shared fish stocks.”

Annual global economic losses due to IUU fishing are estimated to be about $9 billion, according to an international task force on IUU fishing.

According to NOAA’s report, the identified nations had fishing vessels that did not comply with measures agreed to under various international regional fishery management organizations. In the Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea, fishing vessels of identified nations were using illegal fishing gear, fishing during a closed season, or not complying with reporting requirements. Failure to report catch and effort data to the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas hampers the ability of that regional fishery management organization to conduct vital stock assessments used to manage and rebuild stocks, such as the severely depleted eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean bluefin tuna.

In the Pacific Ocean, an identified nation had vessels that violated an international rule requiring any vessel fishing for tuna in the eastern Pacific Ocean be listed in the vessel register for the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission, the regional fishery management organization that manages tuna stocks in that area.

Today’s identification of nations follows two years in which NOAA’s Fisheries Service, working with the U.S. Department of State, conducted extensive outreach at bilateral and multilateral meetings to inform fishing nations of the new international measures to combat IUU fishing under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Reauthorization Act.

The act, signed into law in 2007, amends the High Seas Driftnet Moratorium Protection Act to require the U.S. to strengthen international fishery management organizations and address IUU-fishing and the bycatch of protected living marine resources. Specifically, the Moratorium Protection Act now requires the secretary of commerce to identify in a biennial report to Congress those foreign nations whose fishing vessels are engaged in IUU fishing or fishing activities or practices that result in the bycatch of protected living marine resources. The act also now requires the secretary to certify whether these identified nations have stopped IUU fishing and the bycatch of protected resources.

Today’s identification will be followed by consultations to urge nations to adopt corrective measures. Following consultations, NOAA will formally certify each of the six nations either as adopting effective measures to stop IUU fishing, or having vessels engaged in IUU fishing. If a nation is found to be engaged in IUU fishing, that nation’s vessels may be denied entry into U.S. ports and the president may prohibit imports of certain fish products from that nation or take other measures.

Today’s report to Congress also includes information on the status of living marine resources around the globe and multilateral efforts to improve stewardship of these resources.

NOAA also has just released a proposed rule that outlines the procedures for identifying and certifying nations for IUU fishing and bycatch of protected living marine resources. A draft environmental assessment of the rule is also now available. You can read the Report to Congress, the draft rule and environmental assessment online.

NOAA understands and predicts changes in the Earth’s environment, from the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun, and conserves and manages our coastal and marine resources.

President Bush Discusses Conservation and the Environment

Tuesday, January 13th, 2009

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you all. Please be seated. Thank you for coming, and Happy New Year. Laura and I thank all of our distinguished guests, starting with members of my Cabinet — Secretary Kempthorne, Secretary Gutierrez, Administrator Johnson. Admiral, thank you for coming today. We’re proud you’re here. Mr. Secretary, thank you for being here. Other members of the administration who have joined us. Members of the conservation community, we’re glad you’re here.

Governor, I am proud you’re here. Thank you for coming. And Josie is with you. Representatives from — by the way, Northern Mariana Islands — Governor. Just in case you don’t know him. (Laughter.) We know him — and we like him. And all the representatives from America Samoa, really appreciate you all coming. Apologize for the weather, but I don’t apologize for the policy, because we’re fixing to do some fabulous policy.

It’s interesting that we’re gathered a few steps from the office once occupied by a young Assistant Secretary of the Navy named Theodore Roosevelt. Not long after he left the position, he was back on these grounds as the 26th President of the United States. And exactly a hundred years ago, he embarked on his final weeks as the President — something I can relate to. (Laughter.)

President Roosevelt left office with many achievements, and the most enduring of all was his commitment to conservation. As he once said: “Of all the questions which can come before the nation, short of the actual preservation of its existence in a great war, there is none which compares in importance with leaving this land even a better land for our descendants than it is for us.”

That spirit has guided the conservation movement for a century; it’s guided my administration. Since 2001, we have put common-sense policies in place, and I can say upon departure, our air is cleaner, our water is purer, and our lands are better protected.

To build on this progress, I’m pleased to make several announcements today. Under the Antiquities Act that Theodore Roosevelt signed in 1906, the President can set aside places of historic or scientific significance to be protected as national monuments. With the proclamations I will sign in a few moments, I am using that authority to designate three beautiful and biologically diverse areas of the Pacific Ocean as new marine national monuments.

The first is we will establish the Marianas Trench Marine National Monument. At the heart of this protected area will be much of the Marianas Trench — the site of the deepest point on Earth — and the surrounding arc of undersea volcanoes and thermal vents. This unique geological region is more than five times longer than the Grand Canyon. It is deeper than Mount Everest is tall. It supports life in some of the harshest conditions imaginable. A fascinating array of species survive amid hydrogen-emitting volcanoes, hydrothermal vents that produce highly acidic and boiling water, and the only known location of liquid sulfur this side of Jupiter.

Many scientists — and I want to thank the scientists who have joined us today — believe extreme conditions like these could have been the first incubators of life on Earth. As further research is conducted in these depths, we will learn more about life at the bottom of the sea — and about the history of our planet.

The other major features of the new monument are the majestic coral reefs off the coast of the upper three islands in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. These islands, some 5,600 miles from California, are home to a striking diversity of marine life — from large predators like sharks and rays, to more than 300 species of stony corals. By studying these pristine waters, scientists can advance our understanding of tropical marine ecosystems not only there, but around the world.

The second new monument will be the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument. The monument will span seven areas to the far south and west of Hawaii. One is Wake Island — the site of a pivotal battle in World War II, and a key habitat for nesting seabirds and migratory shorebirds. The monument will also include unique trees and grasses and birds adapted to life at the Equator; the rare sea turtles and whales and Hawaiian monk seals that visit Johnston Atoll; and some of the most pristine and spectacular coral reefs in the world. These isolated specks of land and abundant marine ecosystems are almost completely undisturbed by mankind. And as part of the Pacific Remote Islands National Monument, they will be ideal laboratories for scientific research.

The third new monument will be the Rose Atoll Marine National Monument. Rose is a diamond-shaped island to the east of American Samoa — our nation’s southernmost territory. It includes rare species of nesting petrels, shearwaters, and terns — which account for its native name, “Island of Seabirds.” The waters surrounding the atoll are the home of many rare species, including giant clams and reef sharks — as well as an unusual abundance of rose-colored corals. This area has long been renowned as a place of natural beauty. And now that it’s protected by law, it will also be a place of learning for generations to come.

Taken together, these three new national monuments cover nearly 200,000 square miles, and they will now receive our nation’s highest level of environmental recognition and conservation. This decision came after a lot of consultation — consultation with local officials, consultation with prominent scientists, consultation with environmental advocates, consultation with the United States military and the fishing community. Based on these consultations, as well as sound resource management principles, the monuments will prohibit resource destruction or extraction, waste dumping, and commercial fishing. They will allow for research, free passage, and recreation — including the possibility of recreational fishing one day. For seabirds and marine life, they will be sanctuaries to grow and thrive. For scientists, they will be places to extend the frontiers of discovery. And for the American people, they will be places that honor our duty to be good stewards of the Almighty’s creation.

The benefits of today’s decision reach far beyond nature. The monuments will preserve sites of cultural and spiritual significance to native peoples. They will ensure full freedom of navigation, and include measures to uphold training missions and other military operations. And they will open the door to new economic benefits in the Territories. After all, if travelers now, or students, or scientists, book a ticket to Saipan or Pago Pago, they will know they’re headed for a place with friendly people and a vibrant culture, and some of our country’s most treasured natural resources.

This morning I’m also pleased — today I’m also pleased to share some news about two other national treasures. One is the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Marine National Monument, which I created in 2006. This stunning island chain is the largest single conservation area in American history, and the largest fully protected marine area in the world. And the other is Mount Vernon — the home of America’s first President and an agricultural pioneer — that would be George Washington. I’m pleased to announce the United States will soon submit a request that these two landmarks become UNESCO World Heritage sites — America’s first such submission in 15 years.

The new steps I’ve announced today are the capstone of an eight-year commitment to strong environmental protection and conservation. Look, I know that sounds contrary to the conventional wisdom of many in the news media. But let me just share a few facts about our record — and you can be the judge for yourself:

Since 2001, air pollution has dropped by 12 percent. The strictest air quality standards in American history are now in place, as are strong regulations on power plant and diesel engine emissions. More than 3.6 million acres of wetlands have been protected, restored, or improved. Millions of acres of vital natural habitat have been conserved on farms. More than 27 million acres of federal forest land have been protected from catastrophic wildfires. The maintenance backlog in our national parks has been reduced. More than 11,000 abandoned industrial brownfields are on their way back to productive use. We’ve had a new focus on cleaning debris from our oceans. Popular recreational fish like the striped bass and red drum are gaining new protection. And new marine protected areas are helping improve the health of our fisheries off the southeast coast.

At the same time, we’ve taken aggressive steps to make America’s energy supply cleaner and more secure — and confronted the challenge of global climate change. I signed two major energy bills. We raised fuel efficiency standards for automobiles for the first time in more than a decade. We mandated major increases in the use of renewable fuels and the efficiency of lighting and appliances.

We dedicated more than $18 billion to developing clean and efficient technologies like biofuels, advanced batteries and hydrogen fuel cells, solar and wind power, and clean, safe nuclear power. We’re providing more than $40 billion in loan guarantees to put these technologies to use.

We forged an international agreement under the Montreal Protocol mandating major cuts in refrigerants that are some of the most potent greenhouse gases. We built international consensus on an approach that will replace the Kyoto Protocol with a global climate agreement that calls for meaningful commitments to reduce greenhouse gases from all major economies, including India and China.

With all these steps, we have charted the way toward a more promising era in environmental stewardship. We have pioneered a new model of cooperative conservation in which government and private citizens and environmental advocates work together to achieve common goals. And while there’s a lot more work to be done, we have done our part to leave behind a cleaner and healthier and better world for those who follow us on this Earth.

And now I’d like those who have been assigned the task of standing up here to join me as I sign the national monuments. (Applause.)