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August 22, 2013

Florida Outreach Visits Summary

Florida Outreach Visits Summary – Debra Hernandez and Vembu Subramanian

The week of August 5, Debra and Vembu held a series of meetings with SECOORA members in FL. The meetings were aimed at understanding ongoing coastal ocean observing activities, new member recruitment, creating support for IOOS/SECOORA, and identifying gaps and opportunities for collaboration. The following outlines the meetings that took place throughout the week.

·         Met with new SECOORA member Timothy Short, SRI International in St. Petersburg, FL.  We visited lab facilities and held meetings with scientists to understand their coastal ocean observing capabilities and needs.

·         Met with Felix Jose and Aswani Volety, Florida Gulf Coast University, Fort Myers, FL.  We visited lab facilities and met with faculty to discuss their coastal ocean observing capabilities and provided information on SECOORA.  The NWS Science officer from the Ruskin weather forecast office and scientists from Sanibel Captiva Conservation Foundation River, Estuary and Coastal Observing Network (RECON) also participated in the meeting. RECON is a partner with GCOOS-RA and is interested in collaborating with SECOORA as well. We also discussed collaborative opportunities in pursuing grants.

·         Met with Bill Hogarth Director, Florida Institute of Oceanography (FIO) and Jyotika Virmani, Associate Director FIO. Items discussed included the status of IOOS, consistent messaging to increase support for observing activities, and FIO’s involvement in Restore Act and Gulf Observing System. 

·         SECOORA hosted a social on August 5 at the Campus Grind, at USF.  Invitations were sent to the coastal ocean observing and marine science communities within Tampa. The event was a big success with over 50 participants from state, academic, private and federal agencies in attendance. The event provided attendees an opportunity to network, and for non-members, a chance to learn about SECOORA.

·         Debra and Vembu met with Ash Mason, special assistant to Senator Rubio, on August 6.  Thanks to Cliff Merz for arranging the meeting.  We gave an overview of SECOORA/IOOS and regional activities supported by IOOS and SECOORA. We highlighted the upcoming ICOOS Act reauthorization and the FY14 appropriations request.

·         Met with Cristina Urizar, NOAA NOA CO-OPS liaison, located in St. Petersburg. Cristina is responsible for the HAB bulletin (SW Florida region), Nautical Charts updates, and Tampa Bay Nowcast/Forecast System. We discussed various collaborative opportunities including quality control and integration of SECOORA-funded water level stations. We invited Cristina to join SECOORA as the NOAA CO-OPS regional representative.

·         Met with Holly Greening, Executive Director of the Tampa Bay Estuary Program. We discussed the status of the National Estuary Program and the Tampa Bay Estuary program’s ongoing projects such as habitat and sea grass monitoring, and a new modeling project.

·         Met with Bonnie Ponwith, Center Director for the NOAA Southeast Fisheries Science Center, Miami office, along with John Quinlan and other staff. We discussed the IOOS Biological Data Project and the Habitat Modeling project.  The following were identified as potential areas for collaboration: high resolution habitat mapping, species abundance based on marine environmental conditions, modeling to support stock assessments, assisting with multispecies survey design for assessing fish stocks.

·         Met with Alan Leonardi, Deputy Director, NOAA Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory (AOML).  Debra and Vembu were apprised of AOML’s capabilities and ongoing activities related to hurricane research and physical and chemical oceanography. Alan discussed the Gulf of Mexico Observing System Simulation Experiments (OSSE), a system designed to assess observing system impact.  OSSE will be launched in the tropical Atlantic and SECOORA was invited to collaborate.  Of note, Alan has agreed to participate on the 2014 SECOORA annual planning committee.

·         Met with James Brinkley, Cristina Forbes, Jamie Rhome, and others at the National Hurricane Center (NHC).  NHC staff provided an overview of the Atlantic and Pacific region storm tracking data and tools used create advisories for other agencies, such as the NWS.  Cristina Forbes provided an overview of their storm surge unit, including their modeling and storm surge forecast operations. NHC staff also explained their protocols for collaboration with academic partners and highlighted their work with Keqi Zhang, Florida International University (FIU) on storm surge modeling. Keqi has accepted an invitation to provide a talk to SECOORA PIs on his working relationship with the NHC and steps the academic community should take to provide assistance and contributions to NHC operations.

·         Debra and Vembu met with SECOORA PI Nick Shay and discussed ongoing projects and activities in RSMAS as well as his hurricane season observing efforts.