July Senate Oceans Caucus Briefing

Senate Ocean Caucus Panelists, (L-R): Samantha Helton and Brandon Elsner, Office of Senator Wicker, Captain Louttit, Dr. Macrander, Molly McCammon, and VADM Brown.

Senate Ocean Caucus Panelists, (L-R): Samantha Helton and Brandon Elsner, Office of Senator Wicker, Captain Louttit, Dr. Macrander, Molly McCammon, and VADM Brown.

Image Credit: US IOOS

On July 9, 2015, the Senate Oceans Caucus and the U.S. IOOS Association sponsored an informational briefing in the Russell Senate Office Building entitled “Making a Difference: Why Ocean Observing Matters.” Brandon Elsner, Legislative Assistant for Senator Wicker (R-MS) provided opening remarks.

Moderated by the Executive Director of the Alaska Ocean Observing System, Molly McCammon, the event provided an overview of the U.S. IOOS Program. Over 90 people attended the briefing, including Congressional staff and Federal, academic, and private sector representatives, to learn about the benefits of U.S. IOOS.

Vice Admiral Manson Brown (U.S. Coast Guard, Ret.), NOAA Assistant Secretary for Environmental Observation and Prediction, Department of Commerce/National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, described how NOAA utilizes ocean observations and U.S. IOOS’ critical role in providing ocean, coastal, and Great Lakes data to improve safety, enhance our economy, and protect the environment.

Captain Kip Louttit (U.S. Coast Guard, Ret.), Executive Director, Marine Exchange of Southern California, provided an overview of the Under Keel Clearance (UKC) project for the Ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles. Combined these Ports are the largest in the United States. Large ships rely on knowledge of wave swell conditions (wave direction, time period, and height) when determining whether they can come into the Ports. Capt. Louttit explained decisions to hold tankers off-shore when wave swell conditions place ships at a heightened risk of grounding are currently made as conditions occur, and there is little capability to forecast these events in advance. He informed the audience of the UKC project, and how U.S. IOOS’ Southern California Coastal Ocean Observing System’s contribution will enable a forecast of dangerous wave conditions in advance of an event that may ground tankers. The UKC project will increase the safety, efficiency, and reduce emissions of tankers entering the Ports. Dr. Michael Macrander, Shell Arctic Program, discussed how U.S. IOOS is addressing ocean observing needs in energy exploration and development.

Dr. Macrander explained how ocean observations provide the knowledge base that allows energy in the offshore to operate: safely & responsibly; in compliance with regulations; in manner that fulfills standards and commitments; and is protective of the environment and respects people. He explained ocean observations provide critical data that accommodates design and operations and protection of people and infrastructure. He informed that Shell Oil has an agreement with NOAA to make data available to the Agency and the scientific community as a whole. These data are available through U.S. IOOS via its Alaska Ocean Observing System.

Links to presentations: 

Orginally posted on: http://www.ioos.noaa.gov/ioos_in_action/stories/senate_ocean_caucus_briefing.html