The Gulf of Mexico Coastal Ocean Observing System (GCOOS) is now a member of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Weather-Ready Nation Ambassador™ initiative.

This NOAA initiative recognizes partners that are helping to improve the nation’s readiness against extreme weather, water and climate events.  As the Gulf of Mexico’s clearinghouse for data and information about conditions throughout the Gulf region, GCOOS is proud to join with this initiative to help support the resiliency of coastal communities, said Dr. Chris Simoniello, GCOOS Outreach and Education Manager.

“One of our main objectives at GCOOS since our inception has been helping to educate residents in Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida about the role the Gulf of Mexico plays in their daily lives and provide them with timely information about water and weather conditions,” Simoniello said. “Joining the Weather-Ready Nation program will help give us additional tools to educate the public and help us develop an even closer working relationship with other agencies that have a mission similar to ours.

“The Weather-Ready Nation Ambassador program also dovetails with our work in the NOAA Climate Stewards Program, which is supporting our efforts to help make elementary-through university age students more climate-literate. We think that will translate into better educated communities that are more prepared for extreme weather events like hurricanes or the increase in storms that are predicted to occur because of climate change.”

GCOOS was created 10 years ago to bring together representatives from the maritime industry, governmental and nongovernmental organizations, marine scientists and resource managers to combine ocean data to provide timely information about the Gulf of Mexico. The data comes from instruments mounted on things such as buoys, autonomous underwater vehicles and even oil platforms.

Since its inception, GCOOS has helped move organizations away from collecting and keeping their own ocean data to sharing and exchanging information in real-time and near real-time. The organization helps to develop data management standards, provides an online portal where groups can stream data for widespread access and develops new information products that help make the data more readily useful to the public.

GCOOS is currently focused on expanding high-frequency radar (HFR) and autonomous underwater vehicle observations in the Gulf. “The Gulf of Mexico is one of the world’s most important and productive bodies of water,” Simoniello said. “Not only do we need assets in place that can tell us what the conditions are on the water right now, but we also need the public to understand what that information means and how they can use it in their daily lives. Being a Weather-Ready Ambassador fits perfectly with our educational mission.”