$2.5 M grant will support ocean, coastal observations

Funds totaling $2.5 million awarded to the Alaska Ocean Observing System by the U.S. Integrated Ocean Observing System will be used for the first year of a cooperative agreement in support of ocean and coastal observing in Alaska.

AOOS issued a statement on June 27 outlying projects these funds will be used for during the anticipated five-year program, including snowpack and related climate and weather sensors in Prince William Sound and Cook Inlet, operated by the Natural Resources Conservation Service.

In Prince William Sound, that project is managed by the Prince William Sound Science Center, said Molly McCammon, executive director of AOOS, in Anchorage.

Alaskans depend on our oceans and coast for our economy and way of life, and yet we still know so little about what happens in our waters, McCammon said.

Eight other projects also share in these funds. They include updating of a historical sea ice atlas, ocean acidification ship surveys in the Gulf of Alaska; buoys in the Gulf and Bering Sea, and a statewide outreach network for stakeholders; continued long term monitoring in the Gulf along the Seward Line; combined weather and ship tracking information systems managed by the Marine Exchange of Alaska; and high frequency radar stations to measure surface currents in real time for oil spill response and improved search and rescue.

Also included are projects involving water level sensors in Western Alaska communities vulnerable to coastal erosion, year-round ecosystem observations in the Chukchi Sea, and monitoring of marine mammals in the Chukchi Sea using autonomous glider surveys.

AOOS’s funds are part of over $31 million in federal grants awarded by U.S. IOOS in 2016 to maintain and expand ocean, coastal and Great Lakes observing efforts throughout the United States, the Caribbean and the Pacific regions. Providing funds for these entities is a key provision of the 2009 Integrated Coastal and Ocean Observation System Act, which authorizes the establishment of the U.S. IOOS.