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NOAA Panel Meets in New York

In February, the Hydrographic Services Review Panel (HSRP) held a New York/New Jersey public meeting at the Grand Hyatt New York. Regional and local stakeholders presented before HSRP on issues relevant to the navigation services mission of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

HSRP, a federal advisory committee to NOAA, also held focused breakout sessions with stakeholders to discuss issues, such as the application of NOAA navigation data and services to support U.S. marine transportation, for national and regional preparedness, and response and recovery efforts, including pre-storm preparation, and the need for improvements to NOAA data to support coastal planning.

Port of New York/New Jersey

Rear Admiral Richard Larrabee, director of the Port Commerce Department of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, started the day with his keynote address on the future of the Port of New York/New Jersey and what post-Panamax expansions are underway there. He also focused some on the navigation information that the port authority needs from NOAA products.

Coastal Resiliency

The welcoming remarks from Holly A. Bamford, Ph.D., assistant administrator for NOAA National Ocean Service focused on Coastal Resilience, Coastal Intelligence, and NOAA’s Navigation Services. Coastal resiliency is important for the nation, she said, not just coastal communities. Under the threat of severe storms, these coastal resources will require more planning and building a weather-ready nation with accurate predictions and warnings.

Global Shipping Trends

John Vickerman of Vickerman & Associates, LLC compared current and future trade and transportation trends for global shipping. The growth of container market demand in North America has lagged behind other regions like Europe and Asia, but has increased steadily. Between now and 2015, growth in the world container port market demand is expected to grow by 260 percent. The expanded Panama Canal will also shift cargo flow. Of the 10 busiest ports in the world in 2011, nine were in Asia; of the top 10, six were on the Chinese mainland. The Port of Shanghai is number one, and the Port of Singapore is number two. These two ports are larger than all the North American ports combined. The new vessel deployment through the expanded Panama Canal will shape new U.S. shipping logistics patterns, including more robust landside access to the gateway ports.

Corps Reporting

Tony Niles, assistant director for Civil Works Research and Development, discussed updating nautical charting and developing better consistency standards. Although the Corps of Engineers is required to provide the results of hydrographic surveys to NOAA within one month of the survey, data consistency is difficult because districts have varying data formats, reporting frequency and methods of dissemination. Software products like the eHydro GIS Application may help the reporting process for high use channel data, and channel survey data can be overlain on NOAA ENC without modification or preparation by the ECS vendor. Most districts should be on-board with its use by the end of 2014, with the goal of producing channel condition and framework data that is quantitative, objective, repeatable, consistent and usable.

FEMA Response

Julia O’Brien, acting emergency analyst/geospatial coordinator, DHS/FEMA Region II spoke about the post-Sandy geospacial response. Before the storm, the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) Modeling Task Force (MOTF) ran predicted surge models, and USGS deployed storm surge sensors to measure the water depth at the structural level, providing a real-time assessment as the storm made landfall; NOAA and the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) prepared to collect images after the storm. The first GIS-ready, high resolution imagery from NOAA was available within 48 hours after the storm. Using surge models, NOAA targeted high-priority areas, where there were impacts to nautical charting, the marine transportation system, coastal zones and MOTF priorities. Thousands of geospacial structural assessments were made within 72 hours, which were used to deliver expedited assistance to victims in need of temporary shelter, to determine priority for housing inspection teams, to concentrate forces on the most impacted areas, and to determine the potential long-term housing requirement priority areas.

Other speakers included Dr. Alan Blumberg, George Meade Bond professor and director, Stevens Institute of Technology; David Leach, director and programs directorate, USACE North Atlantic Division; Lieutenant Commander Donna Leoce, USCG sector New York, chief of the Waterways Management Division; Captain Jack Olthuis, executive directory of Sandy Hook Pilots Association; Elaine Mahoney, NOAA Coastal Services Center; Captain Gordon Loebl of the Port of New York and New Jersey; Ed Kelly, executive director, Maritime Association of the Port of New York/New Jersey ; Susan Shingledecker, vice president, BoatU.S. Foundation; and Carrie Grassi, senior policy advisor, New York City Mayor’s Office of Long-Term Planning and Sustainability.

The HSRP site visit toured the Staten Island Ferry, USCG Vessel Traffic Service, USCG Station New York, and Sandy Hook Pilot Station.

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