Join SECOORA as we highlight coastal ocean observing in the Southeast! SECOORA members, principal investigators, technology experts and more will be featured every month on the webinar series.
Monthly, usually every 4th Tuesday at 12 PM ET, invited speakers will discuss ocean observing topics.Each webinar will be 60-minutes and recorded and archived for future viewing.
Join the community coastal ocean observing conversation!
Upcoming Webinars (all webinars at 12 PM ET)
|Date of Webinar||Title||Presenter(s)||Link to Register||Download Flyer|
|August 25, 2020||Observations on the West Florida Shelf Pressure Point: How the Pressure Point may Affect both the Shelf and the Gulf of Mexico Loop Current||Dr. Bob Weisberg, University of South Florida College of Marine Science||Click here to register.||Coming soon!|
Coastal 3-D high-resolution maps for floods, wetlands, and biodiversity
Dr. Matt McCarthy, Oak Ridge National Laboratory
June 23, 2020
Very high-resolution (i.e. < 5-meter pixel) satellite imagery has proven effective to map upland, wetland, and benthic ecosystems, but challenges in data acquisition and storage, algorithm training, and image processing have prevented efficient, large-scale and time-series mapping of these data until recently. Here I will describe the Spectral and Object-based Automated Land-cover Classification of High-resolution Imagery protocol that we developed and applied to 20,000 WorldView images run on supercomputers to map land cover across the entire US Gulf of Mexico coastline. The method is fully automated and completed the mapping 200 times faster than existing methods. Multiple products, including wetland maps and bathymetry, are output and mosaicked for end-user applications.
The Rip Current Challenge: A coastal hazard with far inland implications
Steven Pfaff, Mark Willis and Victoria Oliva – National Weather Service Forecast Office Wilmington, North Carolina
May 26, 2020
In the Carolinas, rip currents kill more people than lightning, tornadoes, flooding, and hurricanes. Since 2000 there have been 143 rip current related fatalities and thousands of rescues. While these hazards are confined to the surf zone, they can have far-reaching impacts given the transient nature of people visiting the beaches from around the country. As a result, building resiliency for coastal hazards should not just be considered for those in coastal zones, but should be inclusive of a highly mobile population. Rip current fatality statistics have provided significant insight – including analyses of age, gender, and specific circumstances that have led to drownings. The silver lining is that these metrics can be used to develop better public safety messaging and enhancements to rip current forecasting. In addition, the 2019 Hurricane Lorenzo case illustrates significant challenges to public messaging, especially with powerful storms which remain far out to sea. Swells from Hurricane Lorenzo directly led to 7 U.S. East Coast rip current deaths, even as the storm remained over 2000 miles offshore, and in-spite of attempts to increase the visibility of the threat with National Weather Service (NWS) products and social media platforms. The NWS Rip Current Program continues to evolve in multiple ways to address the education, decision support, and forecast aspects of this coastal problem. The key to improving the program and building community resilience across the Nation is through strong partnerships and collaborative opportunities with a wide spectrum of partners. This presentation will discuss rip current information, important demographics and statistics, the Hurricane Lorenzo case, and future forecast and outreach efforts.
HurricaneGliders: Improving Typical Storm Intensity Forecasts with Real Time Data
Catherine Edwards, UGA SkIO and Travis Miles, Rutgers University
April 28, 2020
Model skill in forecasting the intensity of tropical storms has lagged behind the ability to predict their paths. Capable of operating and transmitting data to shore during hurricane-force winds, gliders are proving to be effective platforms for near-real time data collection of 3-dimensional information about ocean heat content and density stratification that may regulate transfer of energy between the ocean and atmosphere. Data from gliders deployed in advance of Hurricane Florence in 2018 demonstrate different strategies for informing ocean and atmospheric models with critical real-time data that can improve the ability to forecast tropical storm intensity.
Where did my fish go How scientists are working together to track fish over vast ocean space
Joy Young, PhD, The FACT Network
March 24, 2020
Fish are constantly moving to seek prey, hide from predators, find good habitat, and mate. Some species have small movements, restricted to a bay or river, while other species exhibit large movements that cross state and international borders along the coast. Scientists are using electronic tagging technology to monitor the movements of fishes on small and large scales. An electronic tag, inserted or attached to a fish or sea turtle, is detected by devices in the water called receivers. The compatibility of equipment, specifically the ability of the receiver to detect any tag regardless of who deployed it, has given rise to large networks of scientists sharing detection data. The FACT Network is a community of like-minded scientists that have been sharing detection data since 2007. Currently, the FACT Network extends from New England down to southwest Florida and into the Bahamas and U.S. Caribbean. Novel discoveries have included an annual tripletail migration from Georgia into Florida and a seasonal shark nursery habitat along the beach near Cape Canaveral. Ongoing research includes projects on spatial management of species and predicting migration shifts in response to our changing climate. By sharing data and working together, scientists can tackle bigger questions on bigger scales, helping to effectively manage our aquatic resources.
What do we know about the Loop Current in the Gulf of Mexico from recent observations?
Dr. Peter Hamilton, North Carolina State University
December 10, 2019
The Loop Current, a part of the western boundary current (i.e. the Gulf Stream) system of the Atlantic Ocean, is of major importance to the circulation of the Gulf of Mexico. The Loop Current enters the Gulf flowing north through the Yucatan Channel, and exits through the Florida Straits between Key West and Cuba, in a clockwise loop. Loop Current intrusions into the eastern Gulf sometimes may extend as far north as the Alabama/Mississippi continental slope, but also can retreat to a position where the flow is a direct path between the Yucatan Channel and the Florida Straits. At between 4- and 18-month intervals, an extended Loop Current irregularly sheds large clockwise rotating eddies into the western basin, strongly influencing flows there as well as on the Louisiana/Texas and Mexican continental slopes. This webinar discusses what has been learned from recent major observational studies that involve satellite remote sensing, in-situ moorings (measuring currents, temperature and salinity), and both deep and surface drifters. Major results include explanations of circulation processes that lead to separations of Loop Current eddies, and the radiation of deep energetic flows into the northwestern Gulf of Mexico.
Announcing OceanReports: A web based tool to inform planning and permitting in coastal and ocean waters
Dr. James Morris, Jr.; NOAA’s National Ocean Service, National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science
October 1, 2019
OceanReports is the most comprehensive web-based spatial assessment tool for the U.S. ocean and is the largest ocean-based marine spatial planning tool in the world. Designed to improve decision-making and increase transparency for ocean and coastal users and resource managers, OceanReports contains approximately 100 distinct data layers and is capable of analyzing ocean neighborhoods for energy and minerals, natural resources (including species and habitat), transportation and infrastructure, oceanographic and biophysical conditions, and the local ocean economy for any area shape or size in the entire U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). OceanReports was developed through a partnership between the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and the Department of Energy (DOE), and utilizes new and authoritative data from MarineCadastre.gov and other trusted sources.
Download the PDF of Presentation
An Overview of Hurricane Florence
Steven Pfaff and Reid Hawkins, NOAA National Weather Service Wilmington NC
May 28, 2019
During Friday morning September 14, 2018, Hurricane Florence made landfall near Wrightsville Beach, NC. The slow-moving hurricane produced historic rainfall across North Carolina, dozens of tornadoes, a long duration of strong winds, and significant storm surge. Florence created unique public safety and decision support challenges for emergency managers and the National Weather Service. The webinar discussed these issues along with the implications of the storm’s unusual track. This presentation will also include information about Florence in context with the Atlantic Multi-decadal Oscillation (AMO) and an overview of the devastating flooding events which have impacted the Carolinas beginning with Hurricane Floyd in 1999.
Monitoring Harmful Algal Blooms with the Power of Citizen Scientist: The NOAA Phytoplankton Monitoring Network
Steve L. Morton, Ph.D., NOAA National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science
April 23, 2019
Abstract Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs) have become more prominent in the public’s eye, as increases in the frequency and duration of HAB events have made national news. These HAB events, whether they are caused by freshwater or coastal organisms, are a trend that need regular monitoring to better predict where, when and potentially why they may occur so that their harmful effects, like fish and marine animal mortalities as well as human illnesses, can be better prevented and mitigated.
NOAA’s Phytoplankton Monitoring Network is a citizen science volunteer based program in which volunteers are trained to look for the presence of organisms that could potentially cause a harmful algal bloom.
This presentation will touch on methods used for training new volunteers, including smartphone applications, storyboards, digital microscopes, and advanced flow cytometry as well as how volunteer generated data are used by scientists to develop and refine new models of prediction for HABs and climate change.
Download the PDF of Presentation
Smart Sea Level Sensors for Emergency Planning and Response
Kim M. Cobb, Professor, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, Georgia Tech
Russell Clark, Research Faculty, Computer Science, Georgia Tech
Nick Deffley, Director, Office of Sustainability, City of Savannah
Emanuele Di Lorenzo, Professor, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, Georgia Tech
Jayma Koval, Research Faculty, CEISMC, Georgia Tech
February 26, 2019
Coastal flooding represents a growing threat to the City of Savannah and adjoining areas in Chatham County. Recent brushes with Hurricane Matthew in 2016 and Hurricane Irma in 2017 saw storm surges of 7+ feet at the county’s only two tide gauges, shutting down county schools and businesses for days. During these extreme weather events, strong winds interacted with an extremely intricate network of coastal rivers, tributaries, and marshlands to create a complex pattern of flooding that varied by 2-4ft over a distance of several miles.
The Smart Sea Level Sensor project (https://www.sealevelsensors.org) aims to install a large network of internet-enabled water level sensors across flood-vulnerable Chatham County. This is done via a working partnership between officials from the Chatham Emergency Management Agency (CEMA), the City of Savannah and a diverse team of scientists and engineers from Georgia Tech. The project team has installed 8 sensors through a grant from the Georgia Tech Smart Communities program (http://www.smartcities.ipat.gatech.ed…). The planned deployment of 50-100 sea level sensors will stretch from Interstate 95 to Tybee Island – capturing a wide range of tributary sizes, orientation, and building densities.
The data collection will be complemented by a suite of modeling tools to inform flood risk and vulnerability. This includes a high-resolution coastal ocean model as well as an integrated hydrological model to capture surface runoff during high precipitation events. Taken together, the framework enables the assessment of short- and long-term coastal flooding risk and vulnerability.
This information is required to inform planning for flood mitigation strategies. Strategically, some sensor installations will be at middle and high schools in Chatham County to enable educational experiences for students. This is the first project of its kind in the region. The goal is to provide a template for expansions of this technology and community stakeholder framework to other areas of vulnerable coastline along the southeastern US.
Observations to Understand Life in the Ocean: Linking IOOS Regional Efforts with the Marine Biodiversity Observation Network (MBON)
Frank E. Muller-Karger, University of South Florida College of Marine Science
September 25, 2018
Life in the sea supports many industry sectors and is enjoyed by large numbers of people living in coastal and in inland areas. The Marine Biodiversity Observation Network (MBON) links groups engaged in ocean observation to track changes in the diversity and abundance of life in the sea. This information is needed to measure whether the benefits that people derive from different marine organisms are affected or not as we find ways to sustain their uses while the ocean is changing.
In the region covered by the Southeast Coastal Ocean Observing Regional Association (SECOORA), MBON works in partnership with the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary and the Integrated Ocean Observing System to integrate traditional and new means of tracing changes in marine biodiversity. We developed novel environmental DNA methods and are developing indicators to evaluate changes in living communities. Dynamic ‘seascapes’ based on remote sensing extend the spatial footprint of in situ data to track dynamic biogeographic regions. We promote adoption of the Darwin Core data schema as a way to standardize archiving and distribution of marine biology data. This is essential if we want to understand patterns of change in marine life in any locality in the context of changes happening over large areas, and broadly share applications to do so.
Internationally, MBON works with the Global Ocean Observing System (GOOS), the Ocean Biogeographic Information System (OBIS), the IOC Ocean Best Practices Group, and others to promote documentation of marine biodiversity for the benefit of society. The goal is to integrate marine biological Essential Biodiversity Variables (EBVs) and Essential Ocean Variables (EOVs) into the existing and planned national and international ocean observing systems. We invite the IOOS community to join in the dialogue with stakeholders and MBON to refine these ideas and advance an integrated system to observe life in the sea.
Resolving the Loop Current Complex: Implications on Hurricane Intensity Forecasting
Lynn Keith (Nick) Shay, PhD – University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science
Recorded: August 28, 2018
As a hurricane moves over the Gulf of Mexico’s Loop Current, hurricanes often intensify to severe (Category 3) status due to the deep warm water and the sustained air-sea fluxes feeding the storm. Given that the Gulf is a semi-enclosed basin, these intensifying hurricanes will make landfall around the Gulf and significantly impact coastal ocean processes.
In this context, it is critical to understand the 3-dimensional oceanic velocity response of the Loop Current and its complex warm and cold eddy field to hurricane forcing. This allows scientists to accurately evaluate dynamical loading on marine oil facilities and to assess mixing and dispersion of oil products through the water column. In addition, it is critical to understand the vertical extent of wind-forced ocean processes such as upwelling and downwelling of isotherms. In this context, measurements of ocean current, temperature and salinity fields prior, during, and subsequent to hurricane passage are critical to resolve these upwelling and mixing processes. Measurements also provide reference data sets to initialize, evaluate, and validate coupled forecast models.
As part of NOAA’s Hurricane Field Program over the past two decades, profilers have been deployed in the LC from NOAA research aircraft during hurricanes Isidore and Lili, Katrina and Rita, Gustav and Ike, Isaac and Nate. During Nate, the Gulf of Mexico Research Institute sponsored EM-APEX floats measured the hurricane-induced ocean response to the strong winds. These profiler measurements are cast into 2-dimensional satellite fields derived from multiple missions to estimate oceanic heat content, mixed layer and isotherm depths, and sea surface temperatures as part of ongoing research with scientists from NOAA-NESDIS. The oceanic response affects physical processes as well as biochemical processes and the ecosystem through upwelling, mixing and transport throughout the water column.
The Power of Observations for improved decision making in support of public health and economic vitality: Gathering Alligators, Taking Observations, Realizing Solutions
Dwayne Porter, PhD, University of South Carolina
Recorded: July 24, 2018
A goal of NOAA’s National Ocean Service is to increase coastal intelligence with a commitment to integrating scientifically-defensible data, models, and decision-support tools to improve the ability of decision makers scaling from federal agencies to the private individual. Implementation and maintenance of robust data management and communications infrastructures are critical challenges for development of successful collaborative scientific and management initiatives.
Enhancing and expanding the value and utility of the data provided by individual observing systems and monitoring programs is of utmost importance. To be valuable, decision support tools must be able to integrate and assimilate data from multiple observing systems and monitoring programs in order for management communities to address societal needs beyond the original purpose of any individual system/program.
This webinar will provide an overview of the value derived by integrating data and sound science in support of public health and economic vitality decision making. Examples will be provided to illustrate instances where management decisions have benefited from decision support tools that make use of data integrated across multiple coastal and ocean observing systems.
Passive acoustic monitoring on a SV3 Wave Glider for fish spawning aggregation detection and characterization
Laurent Cherubin, FAU’s Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute
Recorded: April 24, 2018
Many commercially important reef fishes in the Caribbean and southeast US have been overfished to the point that some species, like the Nassau grouper, is considered threatened and on the endangered species list. Mature adults of some species gather in large numbers every year for two to three months at specific locations to spawn.
Once located, the spawning aggregations become an easy target that can be reduced until it can no longer be formed. Most grouper and snapper spawning aggregations in the region have been extirpated and the few that have been documented are vulnerable unless protection can be enacted.
We have developed and demonstrated a novel, autonomous approach to conduct fishery independent surveys in order to search and discover unreported aggregations by mapping the underwater acoustic landscape using an unmanned platform in areas that surround currently known spawning aggregations during the spawning season.
While passive acoustic methods have previously been used for fisheries management and stock assessment, the platforms and algorithms are not currently mature enough to allow for advanced autonomy, drastically limiting the spatial and temporal range, and resulting in considerable operational costs.
In addition to discovering previously unknown spawning sites, the development of novel algorithms, and passive acoustic and environmental sensor systems enables monitoring along with automated detection, classification and surveillance of fish vocalizations.
As well as providing significantly finer scale detection with low latency, this innovative approach also enables greater on-board intelligence and autonomy; reduced launch/recovery and satellite data cost thus further reducing the overall operational costs, while enhancing performance for ocean monitoring missions.
Next Generation SECOORA Data Portal (v2.5)
Stacey Buckelew and Brian Stone, Axiom Data Science
Recorded: February 27, 2018
Building on many years of stakeholder feedback, SECOORA and its technical partner, Axiom Data Science, have been working on a significant overhaul to the SECOORA Data Portal. The updated portal is currently available in beta version (v2.5) to give users access to new features and a revamped design to get more out of the SECOORA data services. The new portal exists on a platform that is more responsive to long time series observations, and has been updated with more advanced discovery and sharing capabilities. The portal offers sophisticated charting abilities, including comparisons between data sources, binning by time, and plotting of climatologies and anomalies. Users can create custom compilations of sensor and model outputs, which can be shared to spotlight environmental events or geographic locations. Ocean profiling sensors, such as gliders, have been enhanced to display depth charts, interpolation via kriging, and 4D interactive charts.
Feedback from test users on the new interface will be integrated into the final, operational version that is expected to replace the current one in April 2018. With these new features, the SECOORA Data Portal will serve as a more powerful tool for users to explore relationships and trends in the physical, chemical, and biological data collected from the waters surrounding the southeast coastal region.
West Florida Shelf and Tampa Bay Responses to Hurricane Irma: What Happened and Why
Dr. Robert Weisberg, University of South Florida College of Marine Science
Recorded: February 13, 2018
Hurricane Irma impacted the west Florida continental shelf (WFS) as it transited the State of Florida from September 10-12, 2017, first making landfall at Cudjoe Key and then again at Naples, as a Category 2 hurricane. The WFS response to Irma is analyzed using a combination of in situ observations and numerical circulation models. The observations include water column velocity, sea surface temperature, winds and sea level. The models are: 1) the West Florida Coastal Ocean Model (WFCOM) that downscales from the deep Gulf of Mexico, across the shelf and into the estuaries by nesting the unstructured grid FVCOM in the Gulf of Mexico HYCOM and 2) the Tampa Bay Coastal Ocean Model (TBCOM) that provides much higher resolution for the Tampa Bay vicinity (Tampa Bay, Sarasota Bay, the Intracoastal Waterway and all of the inlets connecting these with the Gulf of Mexico) by nesting FVCOM in WFCOM.
Both the observations and the model simulations revealed strong upwelling and vertical mixing followed by a downwelling as the storm passed by. This was accompanied by a rapid drop in sea surface temperature by about 4 degrees C and large decreases in sea level with negative surges causing drying in the Florida Bay, Charlotte Harbor, Tampa Bay estuaries and the Big Bend region. The transport and exchange of water between the shelf and the estuaries and between the shelf and the Florida Keys reef track during the hurricane have important ecosystem and sediment transport implications, including an inlet breach that occurred at the Pinellas Co. Shell Key preserve.
Recording Water Levels Through Citizen Science Reporting
Christine Buckel, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science
Recorded: December 19, 2017
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in partnership with the University of North Carolina, Institute of Marine Sciences, has developed a water level reporting application. The application collects and aggregates reports of observed water levels submitted through citizen scientists. These contributions are photographs with locations and a few simple details that will help weather predictors, scientists, and the public to better visualize and understand changing water levels. This application can be used globally to document high water levels at the coast, such as king tide events, but also far inland, such as snow melt or heavy rainfall events.
Various state and federal partners are currently using water level reports and photographs as communication and model validation tools. Explore the web-based application: What’s your water level? Or log a report from your mobile device.
Web Camera Applications Testbed (WebCAT) Project Webinar
Debra Hernandez (SECOORA), Mark Willis (Surfline), Joseph Long (USGS), Greg Dusek (NOAA CO-OPS), Dwayne Porter (USC)
Recorded: November 28, 2017
Web cameras are transforming how environmental monitoring is conducted. Video data is being used for applications related to transportation and commerce, preparedness and risk reduction, and stewardship of coastal resources.
The NOS Web Camera Applications Testbed (WebCAT) is a one year project that is installing web cameras in five locations for various purposes – counting right whales, spotting rip currents, validating wave run up models, understanding human use of natural resources and more. This unique project is a public-private partnership leveraging the expertise and capabilities of private, nonprofit and public sectors.
SECOORA Marine Weather Portal
Jennifer Dorton (SECOORA) and Charlton Galvarino (Second Creek Consulting, LLC)
Recorded: October 24, 2017
Southeast Coastal Ocean Observing Regional Association (SECOORA) members have worked together since 2007 to develop and continuously improve the Marine Weather Portal (MWP). The MWP aggregates data provided by the NOAA National Data Buoy Center, National Weather Service (NWS), National Estuarine Research Reserves, IOOS Regional Associations, and other sources into a map-based product specifically developed for the marine community.
The MWP was developed by meteorologists, web designers, data managers, and outreach personnel with the University of North Carolina Wilmington, University of South Carolina, Second Creek Consulting LLC, and NWS offices in coastal states across the Southeast and Gulf of Mexico. The MWP is currently used to disseminate standardized, consolidated marine information for the SECOORA and Gulf of Mexico Ocean Observing System regions. Explore the portal: http://mwp.secoora.org.
A year and A Hurricane Apart: Nutrient Loading in the St. Lucie Estuary in the Summers of 2016 and 2017
Dr. Ian Walsh, Director of Science and Senior Oceanographer, Sea-Bird Scientific
Recorded: October 3, 2017
The recent history St. Lucie Estuary has included a devastating harmful algal bloom crisis in 2016 and the passage of Hurricane Irma in 2017. SECOORA member Florida Atlantic University broadcasts real time data from the estuary through the Indian River Lagoon Observatory Network of Environmental Sensors (IRLON). The IRLON network includes nutrient and biogeochemical sensors that provide data on the response of the base of the food chain to the mixing and flows of water in the estuary. This presentation will provide a perspective on how the sources of nutrients and high flow events change the environment in the estuary.
Predicting Marine Physical-Biogeochemical Variability in the Gulf of Mexico and Southeastern U.S. Shelf Seas
Dr. Ruoying He, Distinguished Professor of North Carolina State University
Recorded: September 6, 2017
An integrated marine environment prediction system is developed and used to investigate marine physical-biogeochemical variability in the Gulf of Mexico and southeastern U.S. shelf seas. Such variability stem from variations in the shelf circulation, boundary current dynamics, impacts of severe weather forcing, as well as growing population and associated land use practices on transport of carbon and nutrients within terrestrial systems and their delivery to the coastal ocean. We will report our efforts in evaluating the performance of the coupled modeling system via extensive model and data comparisons, as well as findings from a suite of case studies.
SECOORA Data Portal
Kyle Wilcox, Axiom Data Science
Recorded: March 21, 2017
SECOORA’s data management and communications (DMAC) system implements the U.S. IOOS recommended standards-based web services that promote interoperability, discovery, efficient data aggregation, access, sharing, visualization, and use of coastal ocean data (physical, chemical, biological and geological). The SECOORA Data Portal has over 4,000 datasets that are accessible. Use the to tool explore, download and visualize ocean and coastal data and models in the Southeastern U.S.
The SECOORA Data Catalog contains searchable, downloadable data from all SECOORA-funded observational and modeling assets that include coastal and offshore stations (atmospheric and oceanographic data), IOOS Priority High Frequency Radar Stations, regional and sub-regional coastal circulation, water quality and fisheries habitat models. The catalog also aggregates data from federal and non-federal real-time and non-real time coastal ocean datasets (in-situ, gliders, profilers, drifters, satellite and models) in the SECOORA region.
Coastal Ocean Circulation Influences on Matters of Societal Concern
Dr. Bob Weisberg, University of South Florida College of Marine Science
Recorded: February 28, 2017
The coastal ocean, defined as the continental shelf and the estuaries, is where society meets the sea. It is where bathing and boating abound, where major recreational and commercial fisheries are situated along with maritime commerce hubs, where harmful algal blooms occur, fossil fuels are tapped and alternative energy sources are considered for exploitation, and where tourists and residents simply go to relax. In essence, the coastal ocean is the epicenter for maritime ecosystems services. Managing all of these coastal ocean utilizations, some competitive with one another, and planning for future, sustainable uses, requires the ability to describe the state of the coastal ocean and to predict the effects that may ensue from either naturally occurring or human-induced influences. The state of the coastal ocean is largely determined by the ocean circulation. The circulation is what unites nutrients with light, fueling primary productivity, what determines the water properties in which fish and other organisms reside and what controls the movement of larvae between spawning and settlement regions. The circulation also determines the movement of harmful substances spilled into the sea and the conduct of search and rescue operations. Applications for red tide, gag grouper recruitment and the transport of Deepwater Horizon oil to northern Gulf of Mexico beaches will be discussed.