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#SeaGrant50: NOAA Launches New Site, Celebrates Sea Grant's 50th Anniversary
By Paul F on Jul 6, 2016 at 4:14 PM

New Web Sea Grant Feature on NOAA.gov Focuses on Coastal Storm Awareness, Harmful Algal Blooms and More

Washington, DC, July 7, 2016 - In mid-February, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (Sea Grant's federal parent agency) unveiled a redesigned look for its Web portal, www.noaa.gov, which received over 81.2 million visitor sessions in 2015.

As announced via a press release this past winter,  NOAA re-engineered the site based on user feedback in ways to help visitors more quickly and easily find the NOAA news, data and information they've come to expect. NOAA also made it easier to explore the breadth of its 9 focus areas - weather, climate, oceans and coastas, fisheries, satellites, research, marine and aviation, charting and sanctuaries - each of which have representative icons at the left-hand side of every page. The redesign is easier to use on mobile and tablet devices, which accounted for some 27.5% of the site's total visits in 2015.




One of the other additions on the site is a portal for the National Sea Grant College Program, which celebrates 50 years of science serving America's coast in 2016-17. For five decades now, Sea Grant has worked to create and maintain a healthy coastal environment and economy, and to help citizens understand, conserve and better utilize America’s coastal, ocean and Great Lakes resources. By drawing on the experience of more than 3,000 scientists, engineers, public outreach experts, educators and students from more than 300 institutions, Sea Grant is able to make an impact at local and state levels, and serve as a powerful national force for change.

In addition to introducing folks to Sea Grant, NOAA.gov's thematic portal includes a multi-part snapshot of this nation-wide coastal science program: from how it is strengthening coastal communities and building partnerships to preparing the nation's marine workforce and protecting Great Lakes communities.

NOAA.Gov's Portal: Sea Grant Raises Awareness on Coastal Storms

Highlighted in the section on "Strengthening Coastal Communities" is NOAA's Coastal Storm Awareness Program (CSAP), a $1.8M effort conducted by Sea Grant programs in New Jersey, New York and Connecticut. Through CSAP, a suite of 10 social science studies were funded to help better understand how people respond to coastal storm warnings.


VIDEO: In late May, Sea Grant programs in the Tri-State area released a short documentary and accompanying trailer that points to resources from, among others, NOAA's National Weather Service, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, NYC Office of Emergency Management. This 4-1/2 minute trailer is a preview of NOAA Sea Grant's Coastal Storm Awareness Program's 23-minute documentary, view-able on YouTube.


NOAA.Gov's Portal: Sea Grant's Harmful Algal Bloom Studies

The "Protecting Great Lakes Communities" section of NOAA.gov's Sea Grant portal features resources on harmful algal blooms, including New York Sea Grant's site, www.nyseagrant.org/habs.

As seen in Ohio Sea Grant's "The HABs Issue," HABs are a particularly perennial issue for Lake Erie. OHSG has a number of publications on the topic, namely "What Is This Stuff? HABs in Ohio Waters" (pdf) and "10 Things I Should Know About Algal Blooms" (pdf).

NOAA and its research partners predict that western Lake Erie will experience a less severe bloom this summer than the record-setting one experienced last year during the harmful algal bloom season. The outlook reflects less discharge from the Maumee River and a return to an average nutrient runoff into the lake.

“With a return to average spring discharge, and much lower river flow in June than in the recent years, the western basin should look better," said Richard Stumpf, Ph.D., NOAA’s National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science’s lead for the Lake Erie bloom forecast. "However, the phosphorus inputs to the lake are still high enough to support bloom development.”
 
“The need to reduce phosphorus and other nutrient from fertilizer, manure, and sewage remains,” said Chris Winslow, Ph.D., interim director of the Ohio Sea Grant College Program. "This year’s forecast not only highlights NOAA’s forecast, but it will also focus attention on current efforts to assess bloom impacts on human health, to educate water treatment plant operators, to inform and implement landscape best management practices, and to determine the best way to track our progress toward a 40 percent reduction in phosphorous loading, the target set by Annex IV of the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement."

To get a better picture of what's fueling harmful algal blooms in our waters, Dr. Chris Gobler, an often NYSG-funded researcher, offers a comprehensive explanation of some of the prime contributors to harmful algal blooms, at least in the bays of Long Island, NY. He is seen here in an extended 2013 interview with News 12, a local television station with bases on Long Island, Connecticut and New Jersey.


VIDEO: Stony Brook University School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences investigator Dr. Chris Gobler talks about how groundwater contaminants affect local waterways in this eight-and-a-half-minute Q&A.

Just last week, WSHU FM, NPR's local affiliate station on Long Island and Connecticut, released a brief audio segment (about a minute-and-a-half in length) that also helps to clarify the causes and severity of different harmful algal blooms.


AUDIO: "Explaining Those Harmful, Even Deadly, Algal Blooms" (WSHU FM, July 1, 2016)
Note: If you don't see the player above, it's because you're using a non-Flash device (eg, iPhone or iPad).


Transcript for the above audio clip:

Long Island officials say that the Island has a serious wastewater problem. But what makes the water so dangerous?

When household wastewater leaks into the groundwater, it has a lot of nitrogen. If the nitrogen reaches still water, like a lake, then a chain reaction may start.

Some of the bacteria in the water, called blue-green algae, can consume the nitrogen for energy and reproduce—explosively. This creates an algal bloom, which can be harmful in two ways. It can cut off the exchange of oxygen from the air to the water, depleting the supply of oxygen to fish. This becomes worse when the blue-green algae, technically a type of bacteria, die.

Other organisms that live in the water eat the dead bacteria for nutrients, and use more oxygen in the process. This could kill the fish due to lack of oxygen. The dead bacteria also might make the water toxic depending on the chemicals they release when they die.

Even the fish and marine life that survive may become unsafe to eat if they’ve accumulated enough toxins.

In small quantities, like when the bacteria were in the water before the algal bloom, the toxins don’t affect humans. The danger of the bloom is that it concentrates the toxins to dangerous levels.

However, not all algal blooms are the same. Only some are toxic. Others don’t block the water from the air. The difference is based on the species of bacteria.

To stay safe, use common sense. Do not drink or swim in water containing an algal bloom.

To report a cyanobacteria bloom where bathing is permitted, call the Suffolk County Department of Health Services’ Office of Ecology at 631-852-5760.

To report one at a body of water in Suffolk County without a bathing beach, call the Division of Water at the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation at 518-402-8179.

Also, there are Web sites, like the Suffolk County Government on Algae Blooms.


More Info: #SeaGrant50 and NYSeaGrant.org

#SeaGrant50 ...

More information on the 50th anniversary campaign via the National Sea Grant College Program (NSGCP), which includes a "50th Stories" sub-page. The NSGCP will gather and share related content from the individual 33 Sea Grant programs on social media via its social media channels using the hashtag #SeaGrant50:

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On www.nyseagrant.org ...

 
Tags: #SeaGrant50
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