Program Update – Year in Review 2011
The National Oceanographic Partnership Program (NOPP) Office had another busy year in 2011, continuing to support the Interagency Working Group on Ocean Partnerships (IWG-OP) and their subgroups, the Biodiversity Ad Hoc Group and the Federal Renewable Ocean Energy Working Group (FROEWG), as well as the Interagency Working Group on Facilities and Infrastructure (IWG-FI) and their subgroup, the Task Force on Unmanned Systems (TFUS). Additionally, the NOPP Office supported the Ocean Research Advisory Panel (ORAP). The NOPP Office also continued to expand NOPP’s outreach and social media capabilities.
The IWG-OP met 10 times this year. One meeting was held at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to encourage other line offices to participate in the NOPP process. Dr. Craig McLean from NOAA continued to act as co-chair, and the group welcomed Dr. Rodney Cluck from the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) as a new co-chair in October. The group focused the majority of their discussions on partnership efforts across the ocean community, including workshops and funding solicitations. It developed funding solicitations on two topics: 1) Marine Mammal Detection and Monitoring, and 2) Implementation of the U.S. Integrated Ocean Observing System. Eighteen multi-year proposals were funded, totaling $234.7 million in contributions from partnering agencies. The IWG-OP is working to expand partnerships and generate projects focused on Arctic and other oceanographic issues in 2012.
The IWG-FI met on four occasions this year and spent much of their time working on the National Ocean Council’s (NOC) Strategic Action Plan (SAP) #9, Action 1. Their subgroup, the Task Force on Unmanned Systems (TFUS) met five times this year, including a meeting at Stennis Space Center, where the group toured the Naval Oceanographic Glider Operation Center and the National Data Buoy Center. Having made significant strides in assisting the IWG-FI on SAP #9 and on drafting an Interagency Strategy on Unmanned Systems, the group was granted permission to be established as an official subgroup under the IWG-FI, to be called the Subgroup on Unmanned Systems (SUS). In September, TFUS also held a joint meeting with the Interagency Coordinating Committee for Airborne Geosciences Research and Applications (ICCAGRA). As a part of the SAP #9, which seeks to provide an update on the Federal Oceanographic Fleet Report (2007), the IWG-FI created a small writing team called the Federal Oceanographic Fleet Working Group to update and revise the previous report. The group aims to complete the update by June 2012.
FROEWG met four times in 2011 with the purpose of providing feedback to participating agencies regarding specific ocean renewable energy-related research projects and as well as providing a platform to discuss policy issues. Based on the input from members of FROEWG, the Department of Energy (DOE) hosted four webinars featuring current research efforts to assess potential environmental impacts of marine and hydrokinetic energy development. Members of FROEWG met to exchange information; to coordinate meetings, workshops, and other activities related to Offshore Wind Resource Assessment and Design Conditions; and to review supported research and other relevant projects to assure that work was complementary across agencies. Partnering agencies, DOE, NSF, BOEMRE, and NOAA, hosted the information exchange Offshore Renewable Energy: Public Meeting on Information Needs for Resource Assessment and Design Conditions.
The Biodiversity Ad Hoc group also met four times this year and released their report, Attaining an Operational Marine Biodiversity Observation Network (BON), which was the culmination of the workshop hosted in 2010 on the same topic. The report was disseminated at various conferences and a roundtable discussion was hosted on the report at the National Conference for Science and Environment in January 2011.
The NOPP Office was also able to participate in several outreach opportunities and conferences in 2011. In January, NOPP staff attended the National Conference on Science and the Environment and helped support the Biodiversity Ad Hoc group’s roundtable discussion. Also in support of the Biodiversity Ad Hoc Committee, NOPP staff attended the International Marine Conservation Congress meeting in May in Victoria, Canada to disseminate materials, including the Attaining an Operational Marine Biodiversity Observation Network (BON) report. In September, NOPP staff traveled to Kona, Hawaii to present on the NOPP program and process and host an exhibit booth to disseminate NOPP-related materials at the MTS/IEEE Oceans ’11 Conference. In October, NOPP and the IWG-OP co-chair, Craig McLean, met and presented to the State Oceanic Administration (SOA) of China, and in December, the NOPP Office hosted the BOEM Science Day in which members of the Environmental Studies Program at BOEM presented research activities led by their offices to help encourage and develop partnerships with other federal agencies. NOPP also further developed social media pages, such as Facebook and Twitter, and continued to write articles to post to the website.
The Ocean Research Advisory Panel (ORAP) welcomed new leadership for 2011, with Dr. Margaret Leinen, Executive Director of Florida Atlantic University’s (FAU) Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute, stepping in as Chair, and Dr. Robert Weller, Senior Scientist of Physical Oceanography at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, serving as Vice-Chair. Dr. Steve Ramberg, Distinguished Research Fellow at the National Defense University, remained as Vice-Chair. From 2006-2011, the Ocean Research Advisory Panel (ORAP) operated as the Ocean Research and Resources Advisory Panel (ORRAP), but will now conduct business again as the Ocean Research Advisory Panel
The ORAP held several meetings in the first half of 2011 to review and develop input to the outlines for the nine Strategic Action Plans of the National Ocean Policy. This input was submitted to the National Ocean Council and is available on the NOPP website. The ORAP also held a regular meeting on April 25-26, 2011. Topics for discussion included the Strategic Action Plans Outlines and data management.
In April, the ORAP released the Ocean Acidification Task Force (OATF) Report, a summary of work completed and recommendations for ORAP to convey to the Interagency Working Group on Ocean Acidification (IWGOA). Specifically, the report offers additional details and emphasis on the National Research Council (NRC) report, “Ocean Acidification: A National Strategy to Meet the Challenges of a Changing Ocean,” which reviewed the current state of scientific knowledge on ocean acidification, and identified gaps in that knowledge, particularly with respect to information useful to policy makers and federal agencies.
In May, the ORAP Industry Sub-panel convened a workshop entitled, “Ocean Renewable Energy Workshop: Accelerating the Decision-Making Process.” The workshop brought together individuals with real-world experience to discuss pervasive impediments throughout the timeline of project events, beginning with consideration of a site for development and concluding with receipt of final approval to begin in-water operations. The final report is pending approval.