NOAA News Releases

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Updated: 31 weeks 1 day ago

NOAA and the University of Rhode Island Sign Agreement to Explore Effects of Offshore Wind Energy Development

Wed, 2023-07-19 11:06
NOAA and the University of Rhode Island Sign Agreement to Explore Effects of Offshore Wind Energy Development

Wind turbines generate electricity at the Block Island Wind Farm on July 07, 2022 near Block Island, Rhode Island. The first commercial offshore wind farm in the United States is located 3.8 miles from Block Island, Rhode Island in the Atlantic Ocean. The five-turbine, 30 MW project was developed by Deepwater Wind and began operations in December, 2016 at a cost of nearly $300 million. (Image credit: Getty images)

June 15, 2023

 

 

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NOAA expands coastal access for people with disabilities

Wed, 2023-07-19 10:24
NOAA expands coastal access for people with disabilities

At a Teachers on the Estuary training, teachers learned signs for "estuary," "watershed," and other coastal terms created by a team of Deaf subject matter experts, education specialists, and three National Estuarine Research Reserves. (Image credit: James Rassman)

Download Image July 19, 2023

   

   

   

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NOAA researchers explore Alaska's deep waters

Wed, 2023-07-19 08:27
NOAA researchers explore Alaska's deep waters Watch live online through July 24

Emily Narrow, mission videographer, enjoys the sunset over the Pacific Ocean from the back deck of NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer, during the NOAA Ocean Exploration mission: Discovering the Deep: Exploring Remote Pacific Marine Protected Areas In 2017. Credit: NOAA Ocean Exploration. (Image credit: NOAA Ocean Exploration)

Download Image July 19, 2023

 

 

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FEMA Hazard Mitigation money allocated toward coral restoration for first time

Tue, 2023-07-18 12:34
FEMA Hazard Mitigation money allocated toward coral restoration for first time

Coral reefs provide important functions for the coastal communities of Puerto Rico. (Image credit: NOAA)

Download Image July 18, 2023

   

   

   

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NOAA, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service propose new critical habitat for green sea turtles

Mon, 2023-07-17 14:16
NOAA, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service propose new critical habitat for green sea turtles July 18, 2023

A green sea turtle swims in the waters off of Oahu, Hawaii. (Image credit: NOAA)

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Today, NOAA Fisheries and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced a proposal to designate new areas of critical habitat to protect threatened and endangered green sea turtles. The agencies share jurisdiction for sea turtles, with the Fish and Wildlife Service overseeing their protection and recovery on nesting beaches and NOAA Fisheries providing oversight in the marine environment.

The Fish and Wildlife Service proposes designating 8,870 acres (approximately 35.896 square kilometers) of critical habitat on land where green sea turtles bask, nest, incubate, hatch and travel to the sea. NOAA Fisheries proposes to designate marine critical habitat from mean high water to 20 meters depth to protect access to nesting beaches, migratory corridors and important feeding and resting areas; it also includes Sargassum habitat in the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Ocean. 

“Green sea turtles continue to face threats in the marine environment, including human interactions like bycatch and marine debris, as well as habitat loss and the ongoing impacts of climate change,” said NOAA Fisheries Assistant Administrator Janet Coit. “These new critical habitat proposals will aid in our joint mission to protect and recover endangered and threatened green sea turtles.” 

“Designating critical habitat for green sea turtles will help us effectively carry out our mission of protecting and recovering the species,” said Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks Shannon Estenoz. “Endangered Species Act protections are benefiting the species by raising awareness about its threats, inspiring diverse partnerships on its behalf, and now helping conserve habitat critical to its conservation and recovery.”

The proposed critical habitat areas include the states of California, Florida, Hawaii, North Carolina and Texas; the territories of American Samoa, Guam and U.S. Virgin Islands; and the commonwealths of the Northern Mariana Islands and Puerto Rico. Details on the proposed critical habitat can be found in the Fish and Wildlife Service's Frequently Asked Questions

Designating critical habitat under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) does not affect private landowners unless they implement an action involving federal funds, permits or other activities. It also does not affect land ownership or establish a refuge, wilderness reserve or preserve, or other conservation areas, nor does it allow the government or public to access private lands. It does not create a closed area, marine protected area, refuge, wilderness reserve, preservation or other conservation area.

A final rule listing 11 distinct population segments (DPSs) of green sea turtles was issued in 2016 (three endangered DPSs and eight threatened DPSs). The 2016 rule did not include the proposed critical habitat as it was deemed not determinable at that time. Once critical habitat is designated, federal agencies must consult with the Fish and Wildlife Service or NOAA Fisheries to ensure actions they fund, authorize or undertake will not destroy or adversely modify the critical habitat. Much of the proposed critical habitat for the green sea turtle overlaps with existing critical habitat for other species. Please visit the Fish and Wildlife Service’s online mapping tool offsite link and NOAA Fisheries’ online mapping tool offsite link for more information on those overlapping areas and species.

Historically, green sea turtles were killed for their meat and eggs, leading to global population declines. Today, the species faces an array of risks, including threats to its habitat. Coastal development impacts the beaches they require to nest and increases artificial lighting, causing hatchlings to migrate to the lights and away from the ocean. Runoff and other pollution kill seagrass and algae, reducing the availability of these major food sources for green sea turtles. Fisheries bycatch, vessel strikes, marine debris and pollutants also continue to threaten green sea turtles.

Climate change also imperils green sea turtles as rising seas and storms erode beaches and flood nests, causing them to wash away. Higher sand temperatures can increase the number of female hatchlings, shifting the ratio of males and females. Changes in ocean temperature alter the amount and distribution of food, upsetting their migration, foraging range and nesting seasons.

NOAA Fisheries and the Fish and Wildlife Service listed the green sea turtle under the ESA in 1978. Today’s announcement comes as the ESA turns 50 this year. Throughout the year, the ESA is being celebrated for its importance in preventing imperiled species’ extinction, promoting the recovery of wildlife and conserving the habitats upon which they depend. 

The Fish and Wildlife Service and NOAA Fisheries will conduct virtual and in-person informational meetings and public hearings on the proposed critical habitat. Registration is only required for virtual meetings and hearings. Please visit one of the following websites to register:

Comments on the proposed rules must be submitted by Oct. 17, 2023. Submit comments at www.regulations.gov under docket number FWS-R4-ES-2022-0164 for the proposed terrestrial critical habitat; and under docket number NOAA-NMFS-2023-0087 for the proposed marine critical habitat.  

Visit the NOAA Fisheries and Fish and Wildlife Service websites for more information about green sea turtles. 

 

Media Contact

Lauren Gaches, nmfs.pa@noaa.gov, (202) 740-8314

Fisheries sea turtles habitat 0

NOAA monthly U.S., global climate report call: July 20

Mon, 2023-07-17 08:46
NOAA monthly U.S., global climate report call: July 20 Experts recap June and provide outlooks through October July 18, 2023

A collage of typical climate and weather-related events: floods, heatwaves, drought, hurricanes, wildfires and loss of glacial ice. (Image credit: NOAA)

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On Thursday, climate and weather experts will discuss key findings from NOAA's U.S. and global climate analyses for June 2023, the latest El Niño/La Niña update, and the U.S. seasonal outlooks for temperature, precipitation and drought for the next three months. An expert from NOAA's Southern Regional Climate Center will also provide a review of the extreme heat that covered much of the southern U.S. last month.

WHEN

Thursday, July 20, 11:00 - 11:45 a.m. ET (USA)

WHO

  • Ahira Sánchez-Lugo, climatologist, NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information
  • John Nielsen-Gammon, Ph.D., Director, NOAA Southern Regional Climate Center
  • Matt Rosencrans, meteorologist, NOAA Climate Prediction Center

WHAT

  • Conference Call (slides will accompany call, see below)
  • Presentations
  • Questions and Answers

HOW

1. Dial into the conference call:

  • 888-790-3248  U.S./Canada (toll-free)
  • 1-312-470-7232  International (toll)
  • Verbal passcode: CLIMATE


2. View slides at https://www.ncei.noaa.gov/access/monitoring/monthly-report/briefings (available approximately 30 minutes before teleconference).

 

FOR MORE INFORMATION

NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information climate reports recapping June 2023: https://www.ncei.noaa.gov/access/monitoring/monthly-report/national/202306 (U.S.)

https://www.ncei.noaa.gov/access/monitoring/monthly-report/global/202306 (Global)

NOAA Climate Prediction Center outlooks & assessments: https://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov

NOAA El Niño/La Niña page: https://www.climate.gov/enso

NOAA Climate Portal: https://www.climate.gov

Upcoming NOAA climate monitoring reports: https://www.ncei.noaa.gov/access/monitoring/dyk/monthly-releases

 

 

Media contact

John Bateman, john.jones-bateman@noaa.gov, 202-424-0929

Climate climate outlooks media teleconference 0

Dive deep into Alaska's waters: Tune in live with researchers aboard Okeanos Explorer

Fri, 2023-07-14 12:55
Dive deep into Alaska's waters: Tune in live with researchers aboard Okeanos Explorer

This sculpin was observed resting on a large red tree coral during a 2016 expedition in Glacier Bay National Park. Red tree corals have been shown to be the foundation of diverse deepwater communities in Alaska and are one of the types of corals we hope to see during the Seascape Alaska 3: Aleutians Remotely Operated Vehicle Exploration and Mapping expedition.  (Image credit: Deepwater Exploration of Glacier Bay National Park expedition and UCONN-NURTEC.)

July 14, 2023

 

 

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The ongoing marine heat waves in U.S. waters, explained

Fri, 2023-07-14 11:23
The ongoing marine heat waves in U.S. waters, explained

Extensive bleaching of the soft coral Palythoa caribaeorum on Emerald Reef, Key Biscayne, Florida. Undated image. (Image credit: NOAA)

Download Image July 14, 2023

NOAA scientists have tracked a steady climb in ocean temperatures since April 2023, which is causing unprecedented heat stress conditions in the Caribbean Basin, including waters surrounding Florida and in the Gulf of Mexico. 

More isolated marine heat wave conditions have been detected off the Northeast U.S. coast, along the path of the Gulf Stream. NOAA has also been monitoring a large marine heat wave in the Northeast Pacific (in the Gulf of Alaska) that has been sitting offshore since late 2022.

As we gather more data about these events, NOAA scientists are providing answers to big questions about marine heat waves:

What are marine heat waves?

Marine heat waves are usually defined as any time the ocean temperature is above the 90th percentile for a specific length of time. This means that the temperatures are warmer than 90% of the previous observations for a given time of year. Marine heat waves can last for weeks, months or years. Marine heat wave conditions are monitored by NOAA’s Physical Sciences Laboratory (PSL) and NOAA Coral Reef Watch.

How are marine heat wave observations and measurements made?

The National Weather Service’s National Data Buoy Center collects and disseminates real-time quality-controlled marine observations using 1,300 weather observing stations. Global ocean surface temperatures are also monitored daily using blended satellite measurements.

Why is this marine heat wave in South Florida significant? 

In the last week (as of this writing), water temperatures throughout the Gulf of Mexico and in the Caribbean Sea have been approximately 1.8-5.4?F (1-3?C) warmer than normal. Temperatures around Southern Florida are the warmest on record (going back to 1981). The latest conditions can be seen on the NOAA PSL Map Room webpage.  

Given that we are in the thick of the Atlantic hurricane season and the tropical North Atlantic is already warm, extremely warm ocean temperatures in the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico are concerning. Developing tropical storms that pass into the region may strengthen as a result of these conditions. The ongoing marine heat wave in South Florida could impact sensitive marine ecosystems in the region, such as shallow water corals.

How long has the marine heat wave been going on? How long will this heat wave last? 

The current Gulf of Mexico marine heat wave has been present for several months, beginning in February/March of 2023. NOAA’s experimental marine heat wave forecasts indicate a 70-100% chance that extreme ocean temperatures will persist in the southern Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Sea through at least October 2023. We have low-to-medium confidence in this prediction given the historical skill of the forecasting system in these regions.

What role does climate change play in this marine heat wave off Florida?

The ocean absorbs 90% of the excess heat associated with global warming. As a result, we know that marine heat waves all over the planet are becoming warmer over time. The absolute temperature of the current event is warmer because of climate change, but it would have likely still occurred without climate change. 

Warming trends also impact our marine heat wave prediction systems, typically by increasing the probability of marine heat waves in our forecasts

How are corals and marine ecosystems impacted by marine heat waves? 

Marine heat waves cause stress to corals and other marine ecosystems. Exposure to extreme temperature for long periods of time causes a breakdown in the relationship between coral and the algae that live inside of them. The coral is left pale or white, i.e., bleached. The lack of food from the algae can lead to the death of the coral. 

If the heat stress does not subside, the coral will die. Mortality becomes likely if the corals experience ocean temperatures of 1°C greater than the historical maximum monthly average for two months, or 2°C greater than the historical maximum monthly average for one month.

How does NOAA anticipate these marine heat waves may impact fisheries and ecosystems? 

Extreme heat can be destructive and deadly for marine systems. An unprecedented marine heat wave known as “the Blob” dominated the northeastern Pacific from 2013 to 2016, and upended ecosystems across a huge swath of the Pacific Ocean. This led to an ecological cascade, causing fishery collapses and fishery disaster determinations

“The Blob” caused whales’ prey to be concentrated unusually close to shore, and a severe bloom of toxic algae along the coast delayed opening of the valuable Dungeness crab fishery. Humpback whales moved closer to shore to feed in some of the same waters targeted by the crab fishery, resulting in a then-record 53 whale entanglements in 2015 and 55 in 2016.

 

Media contact

Alison Gillespie, alison.gillespie@noaa.gov, (202) 713-6644

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Rising ocean temperatures raise new concerns for coral reefs

Thu, 2023-07-13 16:13
Rising ocean temperatures raise new concerns for coral reefs

The Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary is working to protect a variety of fragile ecosystems and Mission: Iconic Reefs program aims to reverse the decline of coral species. (Image credit: Beata Lerman, Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary)

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Forecasters confident El Nino will continue through winter

Thu, 2023-07-13 10:49
Forecasters confident El Nino will continue through winter

Atmosphere-ocean feedbacks during El Nino southern oscillation. (Image credit: NOAA)

Download Image July 13, 2023

 

 

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Podcast: Atlantic sharks! 30 years of combatting myths & assessing populations

Thu, 2023-07-13 09:14
Podcast: Atlantic sharks! 30 years of combatting myths & assessing populations

Atlantic blue shark. (Image credit: NOAA Fisheries)

Download Image July 13, 2023

 

 

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Wed, 2023-07-12 14:03
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