In this issue: Industry Data Portal; Arctic Build-out Plan, scientific reports and activities;  GulfWatch Alaska & GOAIERP, Personnel changes at NOAA and USGS and more!
April 2013 Newsletter

Industry Arctic Data Now Publicly Available Through AOOS Research Workspace

Signed in August of 2011, a data-sharing agreement between NOAA and three oil companies (Shell, ConocoPhillips, and StatOil) laid the groundwork for AOOS to provide public access to a wealth of oceanographic and environmental data collected between 2008 and 2011 in the Chukchi Sea.

The agreement calls for sharing three major data sets in the lease sale areas including: real-time weather and ocean observations, environmental information and sea ice and sea floor mapping data.  During the open water season, real-time data are available through the AOOS Sensor Map. Historic weather, oceanographic and environmental studies data is freely available through the AOOS Research Workspace.  For more information visit:


Conceptual Arctic Observing System Build-Out  

AOOS is developing a conceptual buildout plan for an Arctic Ocean Observing System for the U.S./Alaska Arctic. The goal of this plan is to prioritize core monitoring platforms and activities to meet stakeholder needs for safe marine operations, improved storm and other hazard response, and integrated data products for ecosystem assessments and climate trends.  Click here for a draft of the plan and submit comments by June 1.  For questions, comments or suggestions e-mail:

Two New National Research Council Committees Address Alaska Arctic issues

Two recently initiated NRC studies will tackle Alaska issues in the coming year. Sponsored by the Polar Research Board, the Emerging Research Questions in the Arctic study will provide guidance on future research questions in the Arctic over the next 10-20 years, infrastructure needs and collaboration opportunities. The committee’s first meeting is scheduled for Anchorage May 7-8.  Alaskans on that committee include Henry Huntington, Pew Charitable Trusts (co-chair), Sven Haakanson, Alutiiq Museum in Kodiak, Tom Weingartner and Larry Hinzman, University of Alaska Fairbanks, and Michael Macrander, Shell. For more information, go to
The other study, Responding to Oil Spills in Arctic Marine Environments, which has already met three times, is tasked with assessing the current state of the science regarding oil spill response and environmental assessment in the Arctic region (with a specific focus on the regions north of the Bering Strait), with emphasis on potential impacts in U.S. waters.  The committee most recently met in mid-March in Fairbanks. Alaskans serving on that committee are Mark Myers and Brenda Norcross, University of Alaska Fairbanks, Robert Suydam, North Slope Borough in Barrow, and William Majors, Alaska Clean Seas. For more information on this study, go to


Additional Reports Recently Released on Arctic issues include:

• Managing for the Future in a Rapidly Changing Arctic was led by an interagency working group on the Coordination of Domestic Energy Development and Permitting in Alaska and assisted by the National Ocean Council and the Arctic Research Commission,  and is available at:

• The United States Arctic Research Commission (USARC) just released a report to the President and Congress outlining recommended scientific research goals and objectives for the Arctic. It is available at:
• The Interagency Arctic Research Policy Committee (IARPC) published a plan for Federally sponsored research in the Arctic region from 2013 to 2017. Seven research areas were identified which will benefit from close interagency coordination and inform national policy:
· DOI released their expedited 60-day review of Shell’s 2012 Alaska Arctic drilling operations in 2012.  A PDF is available:

Gulf of Alaska Ecosystem Studies Underway

Two major integrated ecosystem studies are underway in the Gulf of Alaska this season.  One is the Gulf of Alaska Integrated Ecosystem Research Program – or GOAIERP – funded by the North Pacific Research Board and based on the successful Bering Sea Integrated Ecosystem Research Program.  More than 40 scientists from 11 institutions are taking part in this $17.6 million study that examines the physical and biological mechanisms that determine the survival of juvenile groundfishes in the eastern and western Gulf of Alaska. Now in its third year, oceanographers, fisheries biologists and modelers are gearing up for their second field season looking at the gauntlet faced by commercially important groundfishes during their first year of life as they are transported from offshore areas where they are spawned to nearshore nursery areas. Follow along with scientists in the Field Notes:
The second program is Gulf Watch Alaska, a five-year, $12 million program funded by the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Trustee Council.  Gulf Watch is beginning its second field season to monitor marine conditions, lingering oil, and resources injured by the 1989 oil spill. Over a dozen state, federal, university, and non-profit research organizations are collaborating to provide information on marine animals, plants and waters that will support management of spill-affected ecosystems and resources in the Sound, the outer Kenai Peninsula coast, and lower Cook Inlet.  Visit to learn more. 

2-Year Anniversary of Japanese Tsunami 

Last month marked the two year anniversary of the Japanese Tsunami.  Despite the tragic loss and costly recovery underway in Japan, the NOAA Marine Debris Program received a $5 Million gift from the Japanese government to contribute to clean up efforts along the Pacific Coast, Alaska and Hawaii.  This gift will not cover the costs of a total cleanup, but it is contributing to significant cleanup efforts in the impacted states.  Reducing the stream of trash into our oceans continues to be a primary pursuit of the NOAA program.  Marine Debris from the tsunami continues to wash ashore, and last week the 185-ton dock that washed up on Washington's coast was successfully removed to an inland landing site.  For updates or inquires into the latest efforts in Alaska, contact Peter Murphy at:

Federal personnel changes to watch
With NOAA Administrator Jane Lubchenco’s departure in February after four years, former Deputy Under Secretary Dr. Kathy Sullivan is now the acting administrator.  Principal Deputy Administrator Margaret Spring also has left NOAA, heading to the Monterey Bay Aquarium as vice president for conservation and science. Former National Ocean Service director David Kennedy is now Deputy Under Secretary for Operations and returns as Arctic issues lead for NOAA. Holly Bamford has taken Kennedy’s place as the Assistant Administrator for the National Ocean Service. 
At the Department of Interior, USGS Director Marcia McNutt resigned in February, replaced by Suzette Kimball as acting.  And in the Secretary’s office in Washington DC, Kim Elton has left his position as special assistant for Alaska issues.


AOOS is updating our website, and web tools.  Check out newly updated Access Data and Feature Data pages, and check out the latest (iPad and ISO friendly) Model Explorer! Stay tuned for more...
Important Upcoming Dates
·                                          April 22-24           Sustainable Ocean Summit, World Ocean Council
·                                          April 25                 AOOS Board meets in Anchorage
·                                          April 30-May 2    Arctic Observing Summit, Vancouver BC
·                                          May 21-23           Ocean Research Advisory Panel, Washington DC
                                           May 30-31            Polar Research Board, Washington DC

Copyright © 2012 Alaska Ocean Observing System, All rights reserved., AOOS Announcements
Molly McCammon, Darcy Dugan, Rosa Meehan and Rob Bochnek
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