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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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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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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Coast Survey launches NOAA Chart Display Service

This is a graphic showing an electronic navigational chart depicting the entrance to the Columbia River and Astoria, Oregon. Graphical information on the chart is rendered by the new NOAA Chart Display Service and shows traditional paper chart symbols.

The new NOAA Chart Display Service (NCDS) renders NOAA electronic navigational chart (NOAA ENC®) data with “traditional paper chart” symbology in online and offline applications for which a basemap of nautical chart data is desired, including GIS, web-based, and mobile mapping applications. The new service uses symbols, labels, and color schemes familiar to those who have used NOAA paper nautical charts or the NOAA Custom Chart application. NCDS is available as Esri REST Map Service, OGC Web Map Service (WMS), and MBTiles formats.

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NOAA releases 2022 hydrographic survey season plans

NOAA Ship Fairweather in College Fiord, Alaska

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!

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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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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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NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson returns to survey approaches to Chesapeake Bay during the 2020 field season

NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson

By Hydrographic Assistant Survey Technician Sophia Tigges

For the first portion of the 2020 field season, NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson surveyed approaches to Chesapeake Bay. Thomas Jefferson’s 2020 field season consisted of two 45-day “bubble” periods. A “bubble period” is the time a ship closes to personnel transfer while they shelter in place for seven days and undergo COVID-19 testing per NOAA’s Office of Marine and Aviation Operation’s COVID-19 protocol to mitigate exposure. The ship spent the entire first bubble working off the coast of North Carolina and Virginia for this project. These surveys served as a continuation of the ship’s work in the area in the 2019 season.  (To learn more about Thomas Jefferson’s work in this area last year, read the 2019 post titled, “NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson tests innovative DriX unmanned surface vehicle.”

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