Have it your way – creating customized nautical charts using the latest data

An image showing the output of the NOAA Custom Chart application with a chart covering the western side of the Chesapeake Bay.

Nautical charts have always contained a great amount of information – even more so with electronic navigational charts. This information is constantly being updated, necessitating the need to keep your nautical chart suite as current as possible. The Office of Coast Survey’s online NOAA Custom Chart application enables users to create nautical charts directly from the latest official NOAA electronic navigational chart (NOAA ENC®) data. Users now have the ability to create their own nautical charts using individually set parameters, and then save this custom nautical chart as a file that can be viewed or printed.

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Coast Survey’s mobile integrated survey team goes to Antarctica

An image of the United States Coast Guard cutter Polar Star docked at McMurdo Station ice pier on a relatively ice free day for Winter Quarters Bay.
By, Annie Raymond

In 1959, following the International Geophysical Year of 1957-58, scientists from twelve nations conducting active research in Antarctica came together and signed the Antarctic Treaty. In the years following, 42 additional countries acceded to the treaty. The treaty preserves the entire continent and surrounding waters solely for purposes of peaceful scientific collaboration and bans resource extraction and military activity. McMurdo Station on Ross Island, operated by the United States through the United States Antarctic Program, a branch of the National Science Foundation (NSF), has emerged as the largest year-round station and primary logistics hub for the region. The first U.S. Operation Deep Freeze happened prior to and in support of the International Geophysical Year of 1957-58. Since then, Operation Deep Freeze has continued annually and has become the name for supply sealift missions to McMurdo, delivering fuel, food, and supplies to scientists in Antarctica.

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The Interagency Working Group on Ocean and Coastal Mapping announces progress report on mapping U.S. ocean, coastal, and Great Lakes waters

Graphic showing the percentage of coastal, ocean, and Great Lakes waters of the United States that are unmapped as of January 2022.

The Interagency Working Group on Ocean and Coastal Mapping (IWG-OCM) has released the third annual report on the progress made in mapping U.S. ocean, coastal, and Great Lakes waters. Knowledge of the depth, shape, and composition of the seafloor has far-reaching benefits, including safer navigation, hazard mitigation for coastal resilience, preservation of marine habitats and heritage, and a deeper understanding of natural resources for sustainable ocean economies. The 2020 National Strategy for Mapping, Exploring, and Characterizing the United States Exclusive Economic Zone and the global Seabed 2030 initiative make comprehensive ocean mapping a priority for the coming decade. The Unmapped U.S. Waters report tracks progress toward these important goals.

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The nautical chart update process – build it and we will chart it

Nautical charts are updated with the most current information available through several processes and workflows within NOAA’s Office of Coast Survey. The large majority of these updates consist of revisions to water depth information. The bottom of a water body is changeable by nature, thus hydrographic surveys are constantly necessary to show contemporary depths in a given body of water. What doesn’t happen quite as often are changes to land along the coast, altering the way inlets, harbor entrances, and river mouths appear from a bird’s eye view. Unless there has been a catastrophic event, these changes in land are usually the result of human interaction.

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Backscatter and oil platforms – a Channel Islands adventure

Image showing Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary, oil platforms, and the sheets covering the project area.
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.

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Deep fiords and hydrographic history in Glacier Bay National Park

NOAA Ship Rainier at anchor in Bartlett Cove, Glacier Bay National Park.
By Ensign Alice Beittel and Ensign Karl Wagner

Throughout the spring and summer of 2021, NOAA Ship Rainier surveyed numerous bays and inlets of Alaska’s Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve. As one of the largest national wilderness systems and a United Nations designated World Heritage Site, Glacier Bay National Park includes over 2.7 million acres of marine, terrestrial, and freshwater ecosystems. This dynamic landscape is a living example of a never-ending cycle of geological and ecological change and adaptation. With up to 20-foot tide ranges, seasonal migrations of humpback whales and salmon, and glaciers in flux, the resilient ecosystem attracts millions of visitors each year. This year, Rainier surveyed the Beardslee Islands, Geikie Inlet, Berg Bay, Muir Inlet, Bartlett Cove, Pleasant Island, Taylor Bay, and Dundas Bay. Each survey area revealing several changes in seafloor bathymetry and bottom type. High-resolution seafloor bathymetry will be used to update nautical charts for safe navigation and serve as baseline data to support further research of this culturally and ecologically significant marine environment.

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Collecting aerial images on the Chesapeake’s Western Shore

U.S. Naval Academy bridge crossing the Severn River

By Tom Loeper

Early in the morning of June 15, John Doroba and Tom Loeper met with Anne Arundel Park Ranger Adam Smith to collect aerial oblique images of several rivers on the Western Shore of the Chesapeake Bay. These images will be used to update existing content in the United States Coast Pilot 3, Atlantic Coast: Sandy Hook, New Jersey to Cape Henry, Virginia. In addition to acquiring images, experience gained during the field exercise will be used to update aerial photography specifications in the Coast Pilot manual.

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Coast Survey to shut down the Raster Navigational Chart Tile Service and other related services

NOAA will shut down its Raster Navigational Chart (RNC) Tile Service and the online RNC Viewer on October 1, 2021. The NOAA Seamless Raster Navigational Chart Services will be shut down on January 1, 2022. This is part of a larger NOAA program to end production and maintenance of all NOAA traditional paper and raster nautical charts that was announced in the Federal Register in November 2019.

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NOAA’s Precision Marine Navigation data service receives first major update

The Precision Marine Navigation (PMN) program has completed the first update of its prototype navigation data service – the PMN data processing and dissemination system and PMN Data Gateway viewer. The data processing and dissemination system provides surface current forecast guidance from NOAA’s forecast systems, in a prototype marine navigation data format. The viewer allows users to visualize the predictions and discover where they are. Both the system and the viewer were updated to include data from the recently upgraded Northern Gulf of Mexico Operational Forecast System (NGOFS2).

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Surveying in the Strait of Juan de Fuca during a global pandemic

By Ensign Jessie Spruill and Hydrographic Senior Survey Technician Simon Swart, NOAA Ship Fairweather

Last Thanksgiving, the crew of NOAA Ship Fairweather were busy surveying in one of the country’s busiest waterways. A global maritime entryway to the Pacific Northwest, the Strait of Juan de Fuca sees over 8,000 transits of deep-draft container ships, cargo and chemical carriers, oil tankers, and barges coming to and from Puget Sound and Canada. In addition to industrial shipping, the Strait of Juan de Fuca also supports over 200,000 transits of recreational vessels and Washington State Ferries. Located north of the Olympic Peninsula, the Strait forms the northwestern most border between the contiguous U.S. and Canada. On the American side, the region is home to eight million people including 50 First Nation communities with centuries old cultural ties to traditional fishing.

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