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UD Nets NOAA Funding to Advance Mid-Atlantic Ocean Observing

The University of Delaware has received $400,000 from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to continue development of an ocean observing system for the Mid-Atlantic region, spanning the waters from Cape Hatteras, N.C., to Cape Cod, Mass., and out to the continental shelf. Nearly 25 percent of the U.S. population lives along the Mid-Atlantic coast.

The initiative is part of the national Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS), a network called for in the President's Ocean Action Plan. It consists of people and technology in 11 regions along the U.S. coast. IOOS's goal is to coordinate the collection and digital delivery of ocean data so that it is easily accessible from one source and can be used to enhance storm forecasting, emergency response to oil spills and other disasters, shipping, Homeland Security, fishing, boater safety, and other applications.

At UD, Prof. Carolyn Thoroughgood, vice provost for research and graduate studies, who will take on the new appointment as special assistant to the provost on July 1, will oversee efforts by the Mid-Atlantic Coastal Ocean Observing Regional Association (MACOORA) to bring together data providers and data users from the public and private sectors to set priorities for the observing system.

The nonprofit association is governed by a board of directors representing industries, academic institutions, resource management agencies and nongovernmental organizations across the region. Thoroughgood chairs the board of directors, and David Chapman, associate research scientist in UD's College of Marine and Earth Studies, is the association's executive director.

The priorities set by the association are then brought to the Mid-Atlantic Regional Coastal Ocean Observing System (MARCOOS) to implement. A total of $1.7 million is being directed to Rutgers University for that effort, which involves 30 principal investigators from 20 academic, governmental and private institutions across the region, including three principal investigators from the University of Delaware.

“Our mission, working together, is to protect lives, livelihoods and quality of life through an understanding of marine and coastal environments,” said Thoroughgood, who is a professor of marine and Earth studies at UD and president-elect of the Oceanography Society. “These data are designed to serve as an 'early warning system' to minimize the impact of severe weather, enhance homeland security efforts and safeguard our environment,” she said.

According to NOAA, $20.4 million will be awarded to U.S. regions for ocean observing efforts this year.

Tracey Bryant | newswise
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