NESDIS Plays Key Role in NOAA Response
to Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill
As the world watches a huge mass of oil the size of Jamaica creep toward the Gulf Coast shoreline, NOAA's Satellite and Information Service is playing a key role in the agency's response to this unfolding disaster. Since the collapse of the BP Deepwater Horizon oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico, the Satellite Analysis Branch (SAB) has provided Experimental Marine Pollution Surveillance Reports, depicting the location of the spilled oil. These reports, sent to the NOAA Ocean Service's Emergency Response Division, the U.S. Coast Guard and the Minerals Management Service, have been crucial throughout the crisis.
The SAB's special reports also include "shapefiles," which indicate where the oil boundary is at a given time and where the oil will be in 24, 48 and 72 hours. The reports are based on imagery from a variety of satellites: MODIS (NASA), RADARSAT (Canadian), Advanced Land Observation Satellite (Japanese), TerraSAR-X (German) and SPOT (French). Throughout this crisis, the SAB will continue issuing the reports, using a variety of imagery sources. To view an animation showing the daily change in the satellite analysis of surface oil extents, visit NESDIS Environmental Visualization Laboratory.
The U.S. Coast Guard requested an activation of the International Disaster Charter. The. U.S. Geological Survey then requested the SAB coordinate the satellite imagery from the different spacecraft for this crisis. As coordinator, the SAB determined which international satellites to task and support the acquisition and display of the resulting data on an internet site available to participating agencies.
Meanwhile, the National Coastal Data Development Center (NCDDC) is providing oceanographic support critical to NOAA's response team by assisting in access to Gulf of Mexico data to users in a variety of formats.
One of the first products NCDDC provided was the integration of the Deep Horizon oil spill information into the NCDDC Coastal Ecosystems Program-Gulf Coast. The Coastal Ecosystems Program- Gulf Coast is a GIS tool that allows for the visualization of data sets on bathymetry, managed species, essential fish habitat, oyster reef locations, National Wetlands Index, seagrasses, salinity, and the location of oil and gas platforms and pipelines across the Gulf of Mexico. Users can see where the oil spill occurred in location to other ecosystem data. The program will be updated as information is received from NOAA's Office of Response and Restoration.
Through its partnership with the Northern Gulf Institute, NCDDC continues to provide access to the Naval Oceanographic Office (NAVOCEANO) models on the NCDDC/NGI Ecosystem Data Assembly Center (EDAC) NAVOCEANO runs a Global Navy Coastal Ocean Model that covers the Gulf of Mexico. The model shows: temperature, salinity, currents, and surface elevation (tides) with forecasts to 72 hours and is updated daily.
NCDDC is also a federal partner for the Gulf of Mexico Coastal Ocean Observing System (GCOOS) and acted as a liaison between GCOOS and the Department of Homeland Security and NOAA to distribute the historical ocean current data contained in the GCOOS database.