By Lt. Taylor Krabiel
In the 1950s, U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey (USC&GS) Pathfinder surveyed the Pribilof Islands with the latest technologies to chart previously unsurveyed waters and bring the islands into a common datum with the mainland. Fast forward 71 years and NOAA Ship Fairweather continues this work. Despite the decades and technologies that separate the two ships, they share many commonalities in their mission and their surveying techniques.
Continue reading “Surveying the Pribilof Islands, from Pathfinder to Fairweather”
By Lt. Taylor Krabiel
The Pribilof Islands are remote and isolated, located in the Bering Sea roughly 280 nautical miles north of Dutch Harbor Alaska. The economy and community are reliant on the surrounding ocean, while the islands themselves provide shelter for vessels working in the Bering Sea. Accurate nautical charts are not only integral to safe navigation and delivery of goods and services for the community, but also to commercial fishing and crabbing. The last major survey of the area was conducted from 1951 to 1954 by the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey vessel Pathfinder. However, much of the shoreline around St. George remained uncharted. The Fairweather’s surveys of the islands will provide modern bathymetric data for updating NOAA’s charting products in support of navigation safety.
Continue reading “NOAA Ship Fairweather surveys the remote Pribilof Islands”
Congratulations to Seascape Alaska! The Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization recently endorsed this important regional mapping campaign as part of the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development 2021-2030 (Ocean Decade), in part for its contributions to The Nippon Foundation-GEBCO Seabed 2030 Project.
Continue reading “United Nations Ocean Decade endorses Seascape Alaska”
Integrated Ocean and Coastal Mapping (IOCM) is the practice of planning, acquiring, integrating, and sharing ocean and coastal data and related products so that people who need the data can find it and use it easily. NOAA’s IOCM program also aims to make the most of limited resources, with a goal to map once, use many times. The IOCM program is happy to share that the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and NOAA have entered into a cost-sharing agreement to conduct mapping activities off Kodiak Island, Alaska in support of Seascape Alaska, a regional mapping campaign. This multiyear study is funded primarily by the USGS on the survey vessel, NOAA Ship Fairweather. NOAA’s Coast Survey is also providing project management, environmental compliance evaluation, data acquisition and processing, and quality assurance. The data will be archived at NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information, so that other users can access as well.
Continue reading “Planned data collection for Southern Alaska highlights agency partnership”
NOAA hydrographic survey ships, navigation response teams, and contractors are preparing for the 2023 hydrographic survey season. The ships and survey vessels collect bathymetric data (i.e. map the seafloor) to support nautical charting, modeling, and research, but also collect other environmental data to support a variety of ecosystem sciences. NOAA considers hydrographic survey requests from stakeholders such as marine pilots, local port authorities, the Coast Guard, and the boating community, and also considers other hydrographic and NOAA science priorities in determining where to survey and when. Visit our “living” ArcGIS StoryMap to find out more about our mapping projects and if a hydrographic vessel will be in your area this year!
Continue reading “NOAA releases 2023 hydrographic survey season plans”
NOAA hydrographic survey ships and contractors are preparing for the 2022 hydrographic survey season in U.S. coastal waters and beyond. The ships collect bathymetric data (i.e. map the seafloor) to support nautical charting, modeling, and research, but also collect other environmental data to support a variety of ecosystem sciences. NOAA considers hydrographic survey requests from stakeholders such as marine pilots, local port authorities, the Coast Guard, and the boating community, and also considers other hydrographic and NOAA science priorities in determining where to survey and when. Visit our “living” story map to find out more about our mapping projects and if a hydrographic vessel will be in your area this year!
Continue reading “NOAA releases 2022 hydrographic survey season plans”
By HAST Bailey Schrader, Operations Officer Lt. Shelley Devereaux and HST Adriana Varchetta
After enjoying the California sunshine in San Francisco Bay, NOAA Ship Fairweather began its transit down the coast towards Santa Barbara, California. The ship would not anchor for the next sixteen days, leaving all crew on 24-hour rotations. Thankfully, the already attenuated crew was visited by augmenting scientists and hydrographers – Physical Scientist Devereaux from the Pacific Hydrographic Branch, HHST Arboleda from NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson, and HAST Schrader from NOAA Ship Rainier. Together, they traveled south to complete one of the last projects of the season, the area in and around Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary.
Continue reading “Backscatter and oil platforms – a Channel Islands adventure”
By ACHST Simon Swart, Operations Officer Lt. Shelley Devereaux, and HST Adriana Varchetta
After six months of surveying in Alaska, NOAA Ship Fairweather was ready to point the bow south and set sail for San Francisco Bay. However, an unforeseen circumstance stymied the planned underway date. Although we eagerly anticipated the warmer waters of San Francisco Bay, this delay was well received by the hydrographers in the survey department and amongst the NOAA Corps officers. Our work had begun stacking up due to an extremely busy season, coupled with the fact that for most of us, this was our first time working on hydrographic project sheets. Therefore, we happily used this week of “down-time” to complete previous project sheets and plan for the upcoming survey. Those of us as sheet managers focused on cleaning multibeam data, processing backscatter mosaics, attributing features, conducting quality control checks, and writing descriptive reports. This process was greatly assisted with the help of augmenting physical scientists Pete Holmberg and Janet Hsiao. In the end, we were able to finish processing a number of sheets and reach a comfortable place on all the others. After a week of long hours, we were finally ready to toss lines and say “see you next year Alaska.”
Continue reading “Underway from Alaska to California encountering a new phenomenon, cellular service”
By Simon Swart and Adriana Varchetta
Between April and August of 2021, NOAA Ship Fairweather visited the southern part of the Kodiak archipelago to survey and provide updated bathymetry for a remote, yet important area that sorely needed new chart data. Early in the year, abundant wildlife and the sparse population meant the ship’s crew only had to contend with spritely weather patterns. But as spring turned to summer and the weather improved, the village of Akhiok became a hive of activity. Many types of fishing vessels began plying the waters around Alitak Bay, dropping crab pots and casting nets as they went. The increase in sunlight also transformed the landscape from brown, barren hills into a lush green canvas. Quick waves hello and calls from locals to not run over their crab pots, kept the importance of the mission at the forefront of the crews mind, with an occasional aircraft sighting jolting them back to the 21st century.
Continue reading “The Kodiak archipelago – whales, foxes, and bears, oh my!”
By Matt Canning and Ensign Carly Robbins, NOAA Ship Fairweather
Sheets of ice stretch for miles and miles. Mountains and peaks reach with jagged arms straight for the heavens. Snowmounds inoffensively deafening visitors in the winter months with a quiet like no other. Glacier walls and their child icebergs bobbing in the deep, cold water at every turn. Wildlife of the sky and sea of every shape and size, from Tufted Puffins and Kittlitz’s Murrelets to harbor seals and orcas – this is Prince William Sound.
Continue reading “Surveying the waters of Prince William Sound, Alaska”