Coastal Ocean Observing Benefits to South Carolina

Accessing Coastal and Ocean Data

If you are a commercial shipping vessel, a recreational fisherman, a kayaker, or a beachcomber, you need information on tides, winds, and other ocean conditions.  The map to the right is an example of how users can  access coastal and ocean observations along the South Carolina coast. Each station provides information such as the latest observed values including air temperature, wind speed, sea temperature, and water level.

Mapping the Direction of the Currents

SECOORA  is a critical player in the development of a national system of high frequency radars (HF radar).  This technology has been  nationally recognized as a solution to provide the level of detail required by scientists and forecasters to measure surface current speed and direction.  One of these HF radar systems is being deployed off the coast of South Carolina.  Applications of HF Radar that require access to densely distributed, near-real-time, current measurements in the SECOORA region are:

  • search and rescue operations
  • tracking and predicting oil spills and harmful algal blooms
  • assessing shoreline erosion
  • predicting rip currents
  • providing maritime forecasts of currents and waves to recreational and commercial marine communities

Supporting South Carolina Tourism

State public health agencies, in conjunction with local governments, routinely monitor the bacterial water quality of the Southeast’s ocean swimming beaches. These monitoring data are used to post swimming advisories, with the goal of allowing the public to make informed decisions concerning recreating in waters presenting a potential for adverse health effects. Per current EPA guidelines, agencies test for the bacterial indicator, Enterococcus, to determine bacterial water quality and issue water quality swimming advisories. The method used to determine Enterococcus concentrations requires a 24-hour incubation period before results can be assessed. Decision makers are therefore issuing and lifting advisories based on the previous day’s water quality. In partnership with the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC), a collaborative team including the University of South Carolina and University of Maryland, is enhancing a user application with new models and an automated, database driven tool for bacteria estimates and visualization of model results for enhanced prediction and analysis of this public health concern.

Educating Tomorrows Ocean Leaders

Fostering ocean literacy is a primary goal of SECOORA's education and outreach efforts, with a focus specifically on observing technologies and tools.  One example is the Basic Observation Buoy (BOB) project.  BOB is a student-built floating platform with capacity to carry a suite of environmental sensors. Three interactive workshops have introduced this concept of a scaled-down, functional platform for collecting information on water conditions and chemistry to university scientists and informal and formal educators. BOB can be moored to the bottom or to a dock in quiet waters. Sensors on the buoy typically include salinity, dissolved oxygen, pH, and temperature.

Alternative Energy

The infrastructure and information from coastal ocean observing systems aid the development of alternative energy sources (e.g., offshore wind farms and energy derived from ocean currents, tides and waves) by helping to identify sites that maximize return on the investment and minimize environmental impacts, and by promoting efficiency and safety during operations.  SECOORA has been engaged in wind energy development in South Carolina through engagement with the Regulatory Task Force for Coastal Clean Energy  via workshops on Offshore Wind Energy Development and participation in the working groups.

South Carolina Members

Member Organization/Representative
Coastal Carolina UniversityPaul Gayes
South Carolina Department of Natural ResourcesMarcel Reichert
South Carolina Sea Grant ConsortiumRick DeVoe
South Atlantic Fishery Management CouncilRoger Pugliese
University of South Carolina College of Arts and SciencesGeorge Voulgaris
University of South Carolina Arnold School of Public HealthDwayne Porter
Jacqui MichelRPI, Inc.
NOAA Southeast and Caribbean Regional TeamGeno Olmi
U.S.G.S.Eric Strom
NOAA Ocean Acidification ProgramJennifer Bennett Mintz


South Carolina Resources

View NOAA's Coastal County Snapshots to:

  • Assess a county’s exposure and resilience to flooding
  • Analyze a county’s dependence on the ocean or Great Lakes for a healthy economy
  • Compare counties to each other or for regional analysis
  • Download a PDF report for the snapshot of your choice

More About How Coastal and Ocean Observing Supports South Carolina

The SEALAND COMMITMENT in the ship channel off Sullivans Island heading for the Wando River container terminal. One of SECOORA's key priorities is providing data to promote safe and efficient maritime transportation and recreational boating. Photo: NOAA Photo Library


Users can explore and query buoy and other data through the SECOORA Interactive Map

Example of Beach Monitoring GIS System


SECOORA member Lisa G. Adam, Angela Taylor (Teacher at Hilton Head Prep) and Crystal Fialkowski (Hilton Head Prep student) are pictured above on the floating dock at Jarvis Creek deploying Hilton Head BOB.