3D Nation Study report, website, and StoryMap now available

The 3D Nation Elevation Requirements and Benefits Study focuses on 3D elevation data on land and under water.

A new StoryMap on the 3D Nation Elevation Requirements and Benefits Study, which was published in September 2022, is now available. Sponsored by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), and conducted by Dewberry, the 3D Nation Study documents nationwide requirements and benefits of 3D elevation data both on land and under water. The study also estimates the costs associated with meeting these requirements and evaluates multiple scenarios for enhancing national elevation mapping programs.

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Geospatial information in the Southwestern Pacific

An image of the Island of Tarawa, part of the Republic of Kiribati in the Central Pacific.

By Dr. John Nyberg

An image of Dr. John Nyberg
Dr. John Nyberg

NOAA’s Office of Coast Survey Deputy Hydrographer Dr. John Nyberg participated in a State Department Science Fellowship through the U.S. Embassy in Suva, Fiji this past summer. The fellowship’s main goal for the region is to assist in accelerating the use of coastal and marine spatial planning for marine conservation and to deliver a curriculum to support it. Dr. Nyberg was asked to pay particular attention to engaging Kiribati (pronounced Kiribas), home to the Phoenix Islands Protected Area, one of the world’s largest and most important protected areas. The government of Kiribati is in the process of re-evaluating their approach toward managing the area, and one of the primary goals is to encourage the use of marine spatial planning in that process.

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NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson completes productive field season in the Great Lakes

A graphic showing the route NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson took returning back to Norfolk, Virginia after the 2022 field season.

Although NOAA has a significant presence in the Great Lakes, this is the first time a white-hulled NOAA hydrographic ship has deployed there since the early 1990s. As a result of survey work in the Great Lakes, NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson surveyed 450 square nautical miles of lake bottom in Lake Erie – an economically important and ecologically sensitive region. The ship also surveyed 274 square nautical miles in Lake Ontario in October. In both lakes, there were 42 confirmed and new shipwrecks identified along with 22 additional features!

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NOAA contributes to Empowering Women in Hydrography through at-sea experience, part 3

An image of Firosa Tomohamat, from Suriname’s Maritime Authority, sitting on a bench on deck 2 of NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson.

The Empowering Women in Hydrography project is a global effort led by the International Hydrographic Organization and Canada that seeks to initiate, organize and track a series of activities and initiatives which will enable more women to participate equitably in the field of hydrography and to assume leadership roles within the hydrographic community. NOAA is contributing to the project via an ‘at-sea experience’ on NOAA hydrographic ships for three women each year over the four year lifespan of the project. After a global call for nominations, three women were selected to join NOAA ships for the 2022 survey season. Firosa Tomohamat from Suriname’s Maritime Authority, joined NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson from August 8 to 26, 2022 while surveying the Great Lakes.

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NOAA contributes to Empowering Women in Hydrography through at-sea experience, part 2

NOAA ship Thomas Jefferson from survey launch 2904 at sunrise.

The Empowering Women in Hydrography project is a global effort led by the International Hydrographic Organization and Canada that seeks to initiate, organize and track a series of activities and initiatives which will enable more women to participate equitably in the field of hydrography and to assume leadership roles within the hydrographic community. NOAA is contributing to the project via an ‘at-sea experience’ on NOAA hydrographic ships for three women each year over the four year lifespan of the project. After a global call for nominations, three women were selected to join NOAA ships for the 2022 survey season. Chiaki Okada from the Hydrographic and Oceanographic Department, Japan Coast Guard, joined NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson from July 25 to August 6, 2022 while surveying the Great Lakes.

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Surveying south of Cape Cod, Massachusetts in transit to the Great Lakes

NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson underway in the Chesapeake Bay performing pre-season testing.

By Hydrographic Assistant Survey Technician Sarah Thompson

April 10, 2022 marked the beginning of NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson and her crew’s field season and transit up through the St. Lawrence River, Lake Ontario, and into Lake Erie. This field season, Thomas Jefferson’s base of operations will be in Cleveland, Ohio and has the distinction of being the first NOAA ship to survey the Great Lakes in over 30 years. On the way, Thomas Jefferson had the opportunity to respond to a U.S. Coast Guard request to survey and obtain modern bathymetry on Pollock Rip Channel off the Massachusetts coast.

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Ocean and coastal mapping matching fund opportunity

A graphic showing Rear Admiral Richard Brennan over a background of bathymetry

The Office of Coast Survey invites non-federal entities to partner with NOAA National Ocean Service’s ocean and coastal mapping programs on jointly funded projects of mutual interest using NOAA’s geospatial contracting vehicles. Known as the Brennan Matching Fund, the opportunity relies on NOAA’s mapping, charting, and geodesy expertise, appropriated funds, and its authority to receive and expend matching funds contributed by partners to conduct surveying and mapping activities. Partners benefit from this opportunity by leveraging NOAA’s contracting expertise, including its pool of pre-qualified technical experts in surveying and mapping as well as data management to ensure that the mapping data are fit for purpose and are usable for a broad set of purposes, including, for example, safe navigation, integrated ocean and coastal mapping, coastal zone management, renewable energy development, coastal and ocean science, climate preparedness, infrastructure investments, and other activities.

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NOAA focuses on the Great Lakes for the 2022 field season

NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson shown from the bridge wing of a passing ship outside of Montreal, Quebec.

In 2022, NOAA and NOAA contractors will survey U.S. coastal waters and beyond, including multiple missions in the Great Lakes. As the volume, value and size of marine vessels in U.S. waters continues to grow, it is essential that NOAA increase the accuracy and frequency of surveys. A great amount of data on nautical charts of the Great Lakes is more than 50 years old, and only about 5 to 15 percent of the Great Lakes are mapped to modern standards using remote sensing methods such as light detection and ranging and sound navigation and ranging.

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NOAA ocean mapping and reef surveys in the Mariana Islands

NOAA Ship Rainier alongside Ford Island in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. on a sunny day with white clouds in the sky.

On March 26, NOAA Ship Rainier  set sail from Honolulu, Hawaii on a 3,307-nautical mile expedition to the Western Pacific. Originally planned for 2020, this will be the ship’s first multidisciplinary expedition to Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. This collaborative mission between NOAA’s National Ocean Service and National Marine Fisheries Service will deliver high‐quality data, data products, and tools to the region including a seamless map linking hilltops to underwater depths and integrated data on the surrounding coral reef ecosystems. These data can provide information for countless users to make critical management decisions within disciplines such as habitat management and restoration, tsunami modeling, monitoring, and marine resource management.

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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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