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COMT & OTT Announce New Projects


In FY 2018, the U.S. IOOS program continued the Ocean Technology Transition and Coastal and Ocean Modeling Testbed projects, awarding multi-year grants to support NOAA initiatives, enhance modeling and forecasting capabilities, and increase operational efficiency in ocean observing.

Coastal and Ocean Modeling Testbed
The Coastal and Modeling Testbed (COMT) awarded five multi-year grants in FY 2018. Each of the five projects addresses one or more of the following NOAA initiatives:

  • NOAA Water Initiative
  • Enhance portfolio of NOS Operational Forecast Systems: Increase quality of existing systems or address geographical gaps in coverage by developing new systems
  • Ecological Forecasting Roadmap priorities

The Northeastern Regional Association of Coastal Ocean Observing Systems (NERACOOS) was awarded a three-year grant for the Improvement and Technology Transition of the Northeast Coastal Ocean Forecast System (NECOFS) for NOAA and IOOS Forecast Operations. The goal for this project is to deliver improved ocean and coastal inundation forecast products to key end users in the Northeast where severe weather events cause coastal inundation, flooding, erosion and other damages. The project will first improve and expand the forecasting capabilities of NECOFS and then improve the understanding and prediction of the combined effects of land processes (riverine input/land runoff) and ocean circulation (wind/waves/tides) on coastal inundation in the coastal zone by coupling NECOFS with the University of New Hampshire’s Water Balance Model and with NOAA’s National Water Model (NWM). The Year 1 total for this award is $300,000.

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill was awarded a three-year grant for Coupling the National Water Model to the Coastal Ocean for Predicting Water Hazards. Recent hurricanes have caused unprecedented levels of coastal flooding due to the occurrence of both substantial coastal storm surge and heavy precipitation-related flooding propagating toward the coast (resulting in “compound” floods). The overall goal of the project is to address the challenge of predicting compound floods in an operational setting by coupling of NOAA’s National Water Model (NWM; representing higher elevations) to NOAA’s Extratropical Surge and Tide Operational Forecast System (ESTOFS) and to Hurricane Surge On-demand Forecast System (HSOFS) (representing the coastal ocean; ADCIRC). The Year 1 total for this award is $297,482.

The University Corporation for Atmospheric Research received a two-year award for A Unified Framework for IOOS Model Data Access. This project will create a unified framework for IOOS® model data, extending Unidata’s NetCDF-Java and THREDDS Data Server to fully support the unstructured grid, or triangular mesh, models now being widely used in the IOOS® community for both inundation and full three-dimensional operational ocean forecasts. This will fulfill a need that has existed for more than a decade, and will produce services and tools that have direct, immediate benefit to the operational IOOS® community as well as IOOS Regional Association partners. The Year 1 total for this award is $152,234.

The Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) received a three-year grant Towards an Operational Forecast System for the Salish Sea – Refinement, Improvement, and Testing for Transitioning the Salish Sea Model to NOS. For this project, PNNL will refine the Salish Sea Model’s (SSM) grid and improve the bathymetry in selected regions while it completes a skill assessment using NOS standards. The project scope and approach, consisting of robust testing, improvements, and validation has been developed with the expectation that the SSM will be transitioned to NOAA’s National Ocean Service for continued maintenance and operation. The Year 1 total for this award is $296,100.

The University of California, Santa Cruz was awarded a three-year grand for Advancing the West Coast Ocean Forecasting System through Assessment, Model Development and Ecological Products. NOAA/NOS is developing the West Coast Ocean Forecasting System (WCOFS), a high-resolution ocean model spanning coastal and offshore waters. This project will complete a skill assessment of WCOFS, contribute to the WCOFS data assimilation implementation, couple WCOFS to a lower-trophic level, biogeochemical model, transition a mature Harmful Algal Bloom (HAB) probability model to produce 3-day forecasts using WCOFS output, and evaluate WCOFS output for use in a fast, efficient habitat model for swordfish and protected species bycatch. The Year 1 total for this award is $299,874.

A final project, Development of a Cloud Computing Sandbox for Coastal Ocean Model – Research and Transition to Operations, is being initiated at IOOS to support the development of new, and the operations of, existing NOS nowcast/forecast models, Coastal and Modeling Testbed (COMT) and Ocean Technology Transition (OTT) scientists, and community modelers. The project will develop a cloud infrastructure that will emulate the operational environment of the NWS High Performance Computing system (in terms of access to initial and boundary conditions, in situ data for assimilation and/or verification) to accelerate the transition from research to operations. This project will provide researchers outside of NOAA as well as NOS and NWS model developers with an alternative computational environment to NCEP Central Operations for running ocean models and delivering quasi-operational products.


Ocean Technology Transition

The Ocean Technology Transition project awarded 2 multi-year grants and continued three ongoing grants in FY 2018. Each new project complements the COMT objectives above and all address NOAA’s National Ocean Service priorities:

  • Safe and efficient transportation and commerce
  • Preparedness and risk reduction
  • Stewardship, recreation, and tourism

The University of Delaware and MARACOOS were awarded a three-year grant to support Data Integration and Web-based Model Validation Tool for NOAA CO-OPS. The project will
transition a data management and visualization technology currently in use by IOOS, MARACOOS, and the Commonwealth of Virginia from research to operations within the NOAA Center for Operational Oceanographic Products and Services (CO-OPS). This transition will integrate real-time observational network and modeling forecast products to facilitate decision-making in support of maritime commerce, provide consistency in how CO-OPS data is presented to its navigation customers, and improve communication of model validation results and thus uncertainty in CO-OPS forecast products. The specific technologies to be transitioned are the Environmental Data Server (EDS), a sophisticated system for managing model and observation data, and OceansMap (OM), a web viewer connected to the EDS that provides cutting-edge visualization and analyses of oceanographic data, including advanced plotting, model-data comparisons and validations. The Year 1 total for this award is $408,257.

The University of Notre Dame was awarded a three-year grant for Building Coupled Storm Surge and Wave Operational Forecasting Capacity for Western Alaska. Alaska’s coast is a unique and irreplaceable natural, social and economic system. The region’s complex geography and highly energetic atmospheric and ocean circulation and wind waves combined with the extensive continental shelf and coastal floodplain leaves many western Alaskan communities vulnerable to flooding events. In addition, strong winter storms under varying ocean ice cover make this a uniquely challenging location for predicting and preventing flood-related hazards. Compounding matters, Alaskan coasts have historically received less attention than the continental U.S., and as a result suffer from a higher degree of uncertainty in terms of coastal water level, current and wind wave simulation capacity and observations. As a result, regional forecasters and the many communities they serve in this region are severely limited in their assessment of the threat from a specific storm event and have no basis to determine impact risk or evaluate safe evacuation routes and locations. These problems become even more vexing in light of changing ice coverage conditions in and around winter months when the most intense storm events occur.

A multi-scale, multi-process integrally coupled wave-surge-ice forecast modeling system will be refined and validated with a focus on transition to operations while resolving key issues that presently limit forecast reliability in western Alaska. The proposed wave, surge and ice models are all compliant with the Earth System Modeling Framework (ESMF) National Unified Operational Prediction Capacity (NUOPC) standards. All system components will be designed to ultimately fit into the NOAA ESTOFS Pacific Storm Surge Guidance System framework. The specific goal is to enable significant advancement of NOAA’s high fidelity operational surge and wave models, ADCIRC and WAVEWATCH III, within the northern Pacific Ocean, Bering, Chukchi and Arctic Seas. The Year 1 total for this award is $425,449.


In addition to these new projects, the OTT program continued with the second year of grants awarded in FY2017.

The Gulf of Maine Lobster Foundation continued a two-year grant to Operationalize Real-time Telemetry Onboard Commercial fishing vessels in the Northeast. This project will involve working with NOAA’s Northeast Fisheries Science Center, the U.S. IOOS Northeastern Regional Association of Coastal and Ocean Observing Systems, Fishermen and Scientist Research Society, the Island Institute, Commercial Fisheries Research Foundation, and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution to install 36 real-time sensors on commercial fishing boats to collect ocean data, including temperature and depth. The Gulf of Maine Research Institute will support the data management and display work. This project, once completed, will significantly increase the availability of bottom temperature data used by the fishing community to improve their catch. The project is also expected to improve the forecasting capability of local ocean circulation modelers, the National Weather Service, and the U.S. Coast Guard, which will enable better decisions for those living and working on the water. The Year 2 total for this award is $199,389.

The University of California Santa Cruz (UCSC) Department of Ocean Sciences continued a 3-year grant to transition a Real-time Monitoring of the Impact of Observing Systems on Ocean Analysis-Forecast Systems in Support of U.S. IOOS into Operations. The current ocean observing system comprises satellite measurements of surface properties such as sea surface temperature, sea surface height, and ocean color, as well as in situ observing systems, many of which are managed and maintained by U.S. IOOS and its Regional Associations (RAs). In partnership with U.S. IOOS’ Central and Northern California Coastal and Ocean Observing System, Pacific Islands Ocean Observing System and Mid-Atlantic Regional Association of Coastal and Ocean Observing Systems and with the University of Hawaii, Rutgers University, and RPSGroup Inc./Applied Science Associates this project will focus on advancement of the Regional Ocean Modeling System 4-dimensional variational data assimilation system’s diagnostic tools to assess the impact of IOOS’ observations on analysis and forecasts that address ocean, coastal, and Great Lakes observing, product, development, and data management challenges to support future enhancements to IOOS. This project will provide a new ability to analyze the observing assets of the IOOS system in a new and unique way that will enable prioritization of observing system assets and technologies toward improving overall operational efficiency of IOOS investments. The Year 2 total for this award is $361,039.

The Great Lakes Observing System continued a 3-year grant to Transition Lake Erie Harmful Algal Blooms Early Warning System to Sustainable Operational Form. Harmful Algal Blooms (HAB) in general, and cyanobacterial harmful algal blooms (cHABs) in freshwater in particular, are a global public health and environmental concern. This project will deploy Environmental Sample Processors to enhance the collection and distribution of microcystin toxin measurements from Lake Erie to Ohio water plant managers and other regional stakeholders before toxic blooms arrive at drinking water intakes. The project will also update the Lake Erie HABs Data Portal to enhance the distribution of HAB data from the operational real-time sensor network and a related research sampling and monitoring network in Lake Erie to water plan managers and decision makers. Project partners include NOAA’s Great Lakes Environmental Research Lab and Center for Coastal Environmental Health & Biomolecular Research, LimnoTech, the Cleveland Water Alliance, and numerous universities and water utilities in the area. The Year 2 total for this award is $585,702.


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