Last updated: 21 August 2014

Education & Outreach Council Meeting Report
24-25 June 2010
Gulfport, MS

Chris Simoniello
GCOOS E/O Coordinator

The fifth annual meeting of the Education and Outreach Council (EOC) of the Gulf of Mexico Coastal Ocean Observing System Regional Association (GCOOS-RA) was held at the Institute for Marine Mammal Studies (IMMS) in Gulfport, MS, June 24-25, 2010. This document constitutes the report of the EOC.

Special thanks to the GCOOS Education and Outreach Council for their continued commitment to build ocean literacy programs in the Gulf of Mexico region, and to the GCOOS-wide support the EOC receives. Ann Jochens, GCOOS Regional Coordinator, Stephan Howden, GCOOS Board of Directors (BOD) member and Chair GCOOS Observing System Committee, Lei Hu, GCOOS Data Management and Communications Committee (DMACC) liaison to the EOC, and Megan Treml, Southeast Coastal Ocean Observing Regional Association (SECOORA), were valuable participants at our council meeting. Facilities and onsite support were generously donated by IMMS. The GCOOS EOC thanks Dr. Moby Solangi, IMMS CEO, Dr. Sharon Walker, GCOOS BOD and EOC member, and Administrative Assistant Johnette Bosarge for their generous contributions of time and resources.

1.0 Opening of Meeting

1.1 Welcome, Introductions

The meeting began with a welcome by Joe Swaykos, Chair, GCOOS EOC. Swaykos provided an overview of the agenda and asked that each participant give a brief introduction to the group. Chris Simoniello, GCOOS Education and Outreach Coordinator, introduced the newest EOC member, Brent Gaskill, owner and operator of Summer Vacation Charters, St. Petersburg, FL. The list of attendees with affiliations is provided in Appendix A. The meeting agenda is provided in Appendix B.

1.2 Purpose of the Meeting

Objectives*

  1. Develop web pages for recreational boaters and fishermen.
  2. Extend the EOCs ability to acquire and understand data accessed via the GCOOS Data Portal.
  3. Provide a professional development opportunity for EOC members to learn about High Frequency radar (HF radar) technology and applications.
  4. Review the GCOOS EOC Action Plan and update it for 2010-2011.
  5. Determine EOC activities related to the Deepwater Horizon (DWH) oil spill and whether there are E/O gaps that the GCOOS
    EOC can address.

*Note: Objectives one and two required pre-workshop homework

2.0 GCOOS EOC Professional Development: HF Radar technology and applications

Stephan Howden provided an overview of HF radar technology, and examples of applications of the CODAR version. Following Howden’s presentation, participants discussed the need to partner with the GCOOS Products and Services Committee to develop HF radar products that would be of value to recreational boaters and fishermen. Because there is not yet Gulf-wide HF radar coverage, there was agreement that product development would have to proceed as local demonstration projects.

Given the timing of the meeting during the DWH oil spill disaster, conversation shifted to ways the NOAA Office of Response and Restoration was ingesting HF radar data. This segued into the industry update on the DWH oil spill.

3.0 Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill

Rob Smith, FUGRO GEOS, gave an update on the DWH oil spill, providing an industry perspective on the disaster. He provoked stimulating dialogue that included the technologies being used in the mitigation process, human and financial resources being expended, and public perception about Transocean Ltd. and British Petroleum. Although there was a steep learning curve and much criticism in the early phases of the disaster, Smith provided insight on how the mitigation process might have proceeded had a smaller company been liable for the disaster. With the cap on liability set at ($75 million), a smaller company would most likely have filed bankruptcy, leaving federal and state governments as the sole financers of clean-up activities.

Information provided by Smith emphasized the disconnect between disaster response personnel and the public. To address the need for timely, science-based information, Simoniello and Lee Yokel, Gulf of Mexico Alliance Environmental Education Coordinator, conducted a preliminary needs assessment among EOC members to identify Gulf-wide E/O communication and information gaps. Once identified (see http://gcoos.tamu.edu/products/Downloadable_Data/OilSpillResponseGCOOSEOC.pdf), the GCOOS EOC discussed which needs could be filled by the group, which might be achieved via collaborations with other programs, and which were outside the scope of the EOC’s mission.

Key informational needs identified in response to the DWH oil spill included 1) training for educators to increase their understanding of the short-, mid-, and long-term impacts of the spill so they could communicate more effectively with their students, and 2) development of information products that clarify the impact of the spill on humans, animals, and ecosystems, particularly about issues concerning human health and seafood consumption. There was also extensive discussion about managing misinformation circulated by the media. All attendees agreed that communication with the media should be clear and factual.

4.0 Web Page Development for Recreational Boaters and Fishermen

Prior to the workshop, EOC members completed one of two assignments (Appendix C). The first assignment focused on acquiring information needed to develop web pages to communicate wave (height, period, and direction) and water level data to recreational boaters and fishermen. The second was focused on surface currents and bathymetry. The objectives of the pre-workshop exercise were to extend the EOC’s ability to acquire and understand data accessed via the GCOOS Data Portal and to develop our collective ability to generate web pages for recreational boaters and fishermen. The working groups were pre-determined based on the assignments each had been designated. Team members and leaders can be found in Appendix D. During the afternoon of Day One, workshop participants were divided into their previously determined working groups to continue web page development.

The sample web pages generated were developed using the information compiled from the pre-workshop homework and from results of previous GCOOS stakeholder workshops targeting recreational boaters and fishermen. EOC members provided valuable input about specific parameters that boaters and fishermen would find useful. For example, boaters want easy access to ocean and weather information, including air and water temperature, wind speed and direction, wave height and direction, barometric pressure, cloud cover, and tides, preferably presented with forecasts for 6:00 a.m., noon, 6:00 p.m., and midnight. Equally important was discussion about what the pages should not be—complicated, highly technical web pages that are not easily discoverable. It was suggested that the web pages for boaters and fishermen have their own URL for easy access and be searchable on engines such as Google. The pages would identify GCOOS as the developer of the information and link back to the GCOOS Data Portal.

On Day Two of the workshop, the two groups reported out and compared web page designs. While the content for each group was different, the main idea driving the design was the same. Valuable information was gleaned from the pre-workshop and workshop exercises. In addition to becoming more familiar with the GCOOS Data Portal, they served as an evaluation tool to assess the ease with which information could be obtained. Potentially problematic data links were identified and flagged as requiring interpretation if used on the web pages for public consumption. All agreed there is a need for an E/O-specific vocabulary page to support use of the web pages. The draft web pages were subsequently given to the GCOOS web developers to build.

5.0 Program Updates

Approximately 30 minutes of the meeting was devoted to GCOOS updates by the Regional Coordinator and liaisons to the various GCOOS committees and councils. Each provided a five minute presentation summarizing program activities. The EOC liaisons to other councils and committees can be found in Appendix E.

Ann Jochens, GCOOS Regional Coordinator, provided an overview of regional GCOOS activities and national IOOS priorities. The primary near term actions for GCOOS are working with the NOAA Office of Response and Restoration to provide data in support of DWH mitigation efforts and to move forward with priority observing system activities. These include supporting and enhancing the GCOOS-RA, entraining new data providers, developing the observing system (e.g. HF radar network, water level, time series data), building the modeling and analyses module of the portal (e.g. improved 3-D circulation for the Gulf of Mexico, satellite data products, and improved ecosystem models), and continued support and enhancements to the E/O website, kiosk exhibits, and other projects.

Joe Swaykos, EOC liaison to the GCOOS Board of Directors (BOD), provided an update on the March 2010 BOD meeting. Details can be found in the BOD meeting report.

Lei Hu, GCOOS DMACC liaison to the EOC, provided an update on the April 2010 DMAC meeting that was held jointly with the Products and Services Committee. DMACC meeting discussions included future funding opportunities that might arise from the passing of the Integrated Coastal Ocean Observation System Act of 2009, a demonstration of the Ecowatch Portal and activities within the National Coastal Data Development Center, Data Portal updates in response to the DWH oil spill, and GCOOS DMACC connections with the Gulf of Mexico Alliance Data Management Advisory Committee.

Because Howden, GCOOS BOD member and Chair of the Observing System Committee, was in attendance on Day One, he provided the program update on behalf of Chris Verlinde, the EOC liaison to this committee. Currently, all GCOOS observations are contributed by voluntary data providers. Direct IOOS support for observing resources is limited to a small level of funding for only ten of the major non-federal data providers so they can participate in the "Standardization of Local Data Nodes" project to achieve interoperability. Maintenance of the present GCOOS is entirely dependent on funding from non-IOOS sources, such as state governments and private industry. The result is that maintenance is extremely difficult because there is no dedicated funding to replace damaged or aging equipment quickly or to support elements when funding sources are cut as during the current fiscal crisis in the U.S. No new fiscal resources are expected in the near term with which to enhance the GCOOS.

Simoniello provided a summary of activities from the April 2010 GCOOS Products and Services Committee meeting that was held jointly with the DMACC. Topics discussed at the meeting included restructuring of the committee, acquiring feedback on the one-page informational pages developed for the Data Portal, and identification of potential thematic areas for product development (e.g., sea level rise, flood plan mapping, inter-RA collaborations, and work with the Gulf of Mexico Large Marine Ecosystem Collaboration). There was also discussion about legacy data sets that will eventually need to be integrated into the Data Portal if and when funds become available. New products being developed include one-page fact sheets on various topics, such as completed sheets on ocean models, hurricanes, beach quality, and hypoxia, and the establishment of a website that provides materials for the Education and Outreach community.

Mike Spranger, EOC and BOD member, provided an update on activities of the GCOOS Stakeholder Council. The Council is currently in transitional mode, undergoing revisions in membership composition and activity focus. Four of the original members will continue serving on the council. They represent the oil and gas industry, mariculture, public health, and fisheries regulators. The restructured Council will focus on two areas: 1) serving in an advisory capacity to improve data and products; and 2) building communication capacity to improve the dissemination of data and products to users and decision makers.

6.0 GCOOS EOC Chain of Command

The two-year term of EOC Chair Joe Swaykos was served with exemplary performance and he was thanked for his service before passing the position to the Chair-elect, John O’Connell of Texas Sea Grant.

7.0 Workshop Evaluation

All agreed that the pre-workshop homework targeting a specific audience allowed the EOC to maximize efficiency and productivity during the workshop. Participants felt they contributed in a meaningful way to the web pages under development for recreational boaters and fishermen. Networking opportunities, experience using the Data Portal, and the opportunity to discuss regional and national DWH oil spill informational needs were said to be the most valuable components of the meeting.

 


 

Appendix A

Attendees of the GCOOS EOC Meeting, June 24-25, 2010
Gulfport, MS

Name

Affiliation

State

Jean May Brett LA Education LA
Brent Gaskill Summer Vacation Charters FL
Stephan Howden* USM MS
Lei Hu DISL AL
Ann Jochens GCOOS Regional Coordinator TX
Barb Kirpatrick* Mote Marine Lab FL
Dianne Lindstedt LSU LA
Rusty Low At large CO
John O’Connell TX Sea Grant TX
Angela Sallis NCDDC MS
Lloyd Scott Mobile Bay School District AL
Margaret Sedlecky Weeks Bay NERR AL
Chris Simoniello GCOOS E/O  
Rob Smith FUGRO TX
Mike Spranger* FL Sea Grant FL
Debbi Stone FL Aquarium FL
Joe Swaykos USM, EOC Chair MS
Pamela Terasaki TX Education TX
Megan Treml SECOORA  
Chris Verlinde FL Sea Grant FL
Sharon Walker* USM, GCOOS MS
Ann Weaver NOAA CSC GoM MS
Lee Yokel GOMA EEN AL

*Members of the GCOOS Board of Directors

 


 

Appendix B

Agenda for the GCOOS EOC meeting, June 24-25, 2010
Gulfport, MS

Thursday, June 24, 2010
8:15 – 8:30 Check-in at IMMS
8:30 – 8:55 Welcome, meeting objectives, and introductions (Joe Swaykos)
8:55 – 10:30 Professional Development: HF Radar technology and applications
(Stephan Howden, Chair, GCOOS Observing Systems Committee)
10:30 – 10:50 Morning break
10:50 – 11:00 Industry update on Deepwater Horizon disaster (Rob Smith)
11:00 – 11:45 Opportunity for EOC members to share oil spill-related activities; identify E/O gaps possibly filled by the EOC and potential Gulf-wide collaborations (Chris Simoniello and Lee Yokel)
11:45 – 12:15 GCOOS Updates: 5 min each
RA Activities (Ann Jochens), EOC liaison reports: BOD (Swaykos), DMACC (Lei Hu for Simoniello), Observing System Committee (Howden for Chris Verlinde), Products and Services (Simoniello), Stakeholder Council (Mike Spranger)
12:15 – 1:15 Lunch provided by GCOOS
1:15 – 1:45 Review pre-workshop homework and discuss expectations for breakout sessions (Simoniello)
1:45 – 3:15 Web page development in breakout groups:
Team 1: Waves (height, period, direction) and Water Level (John O’Connell-facilitator)
Team 2: Surface Currents and Bathymetry (Swaykos-facilitator)
3:15 – 3:30 Afternoon break
3:30 – 4:30 Resume breakout groups
4:30 – 5:00 Opportunity to provide suggestions for day two and IMMS Tour
 
Friday, June 25, 2010
8:30 – 8:40 Reconvene, review goals for the day (Simoniello)
8:40 – 10:00 Resume breakout groups
10:00 – 10:15 Morning break
10:15 – 11:00 Report out on web pages developed and large group discussion (O’Connell and Swaykos)
11:00 – 11:10 Joe pass the Chair to John
11:10 – 11:45 Identify EOC Action Items for 2010-2011 (O’Connell/group discussion)
11:45 Meeting adjourned

 


 

Appendix C

Pre-workshop Assignment

Pre-workshop Team Assignments
In order to maximize productivity during the EOC meeting, we will complete some pre-workshop tasks. For those unable to attend, I have included you on teams so that you can contribute. Our pre-workshop assignments will be in support of EOC Meeting Objectives one and two below.

EOC Meeting Objectives

  1. Develop web pages for recreational boaters and fishermen (emphasis on interpretation of wave (significant and maximum height, period and direction), water level, surface currents, and bathymetry)
  2. Extend the EOCs ability to acquire and understand data accessed via the GCOOS data portal.
  3. Provide a professional development opportunity for EOC members to learn about HF radar (CODAR) technology and applications (focus on boating & oil mitigation)
  4. Review the GCOOS EOC Action Plan and update for 2010-2011.
  5. Determine E/O needs related to the BP Deep Horizon oil disaster and if there are E/O gaps the GCOOS EOC can address.

TEAM ONE Assignment: Focus Waves (height, period and direction) and Water Level

  1. On an ideal one-stop-shop web page for a boater, what information should be included (e.g. waves (height, period, direction), water level, surface currents, bathymetry, water temperature, weather forecast, etc.)? Using real data, create a sample page (e.g. using PowerPoint) showing what the layout might look like.
    1. For parameters you think are important, but can’t find data, please leave a placeholder. For data that are displayed in various formats, select the display you think is most effective.
    2. If supporting information is required (e.g. calculator to go from miles per hour to knots; degree F to degree C), please indicate.
  2. Develop supporting information for the boaters acquiring wave and water level information from the GCOOS portal. For an example of how this is done effectively, visit the Rutgers CoolRoom site (http://www.thecoolroom.org/funkynew.htm).
    1. Provide a brief description of the methods/technologies used to measure wave height, period, and direction (e.g. pressure sensor-what is the fundamental mechanism; for wave period, would it be useful or confusing to distinguish between Lagrangian and Eulerian flow?; for wave height, what must a boater understand about significant vs. maximum wave height?)
    2. Provide a brief description of the methods/technologies used to measure water level (e.g. tide gauge, satellite altimetry). One issue with tidal forecasts is that the wind and morphology of some bays overwhelm astronomical tides. What do boaters need to understand to enhance safety? Can we identify areas around the GOM where the offset between predicted and observed tides can be large (e.g. Tampa Bay). What are the issues or limitations of the information? For example, subsidence, land rebound, outdated datums, and the need for updated coastal land elevations are problems for water level measurements.
  3. Identify the (useful) websites (or iphone application, dial-a-buoy) that currently provide this information to boaters in real time.

TEAM TWO Assignment: Focus: Surface Currents and Bathymetry

  1. On an ideal one-stop-shop web page for fishermen, what information should we provide? (e.g. tides, current profiles, bathymetry, water temperature profiles, weather forecast, etc.). Using real data, create a sample page (e.g. using PowerPoint) showing what the layout might look like.
    1. For parameters you think are important, but can’t find data, please leave a placeholder. For data that are displayed in various formats, select the display you think is most effective.
    2. Please indicate if a conversion calculator or other supporting information is required (e.g. calculator to go from miles per hour to knots; °F to °C).
  2. Develop supporting information for the boaters acquiring surface current and bathymetry information from the GCOOS portal. For an example of how this is done effectively, visit the Rutgers CoolRoom site (http://www.thecoolroom.org/funkynew.htm).
    1. Provide a brief description of the methods/technologies used to measure surface currents (e.g. satellite altimetry, acoustic Doppler current profilers, HF Radar). What would be useful for a boater to know about surface currents? What information requires explanations and interpretation?
    2. Provide a brief description of the methods/technologies used to measure bathymetry (e.g. sonar, LIDAR, geoid/gravity anomalies). Identify the supporting information we should provide (e.g. known submerged hazards, examples of habitat favored by benthic species of recreational interest; sites of interest to recreational divers).
  3. Identify the (useful) websites (or iphone application, dial-a-buoy) that currently provide this information in real time.

Places to start on the GCOOS website: http://gcoos.tamu.edu/products/ (follow the data portal link) Waves: TCOON
Water Level: TABS, NAVO
Surface Currents: COMPS website: http://seacoos.marine.usf.edu/HFRadar1/
Bathymetry data: http://gcoos.tamu.edu/products/bathymetry.html
Our boater pages should link to the new Alliance for Safe Navigation: Updated nautical charts: http://www.allianceforsafenavigation.org/

Chris’ example of wave height interpretation:
Significant vs. Maximum Wave Height-what every boater should understand about marine forecasts.
If you’re in a boat at sea, particularly a smaller vessel, it’s important to understand that significant wave heights are the average measurement of the top 33% of waves. They help set an expectation concerning the size of waves you might encounter. On average, about 15% of waves will equal or exceed the significant wave height. The highest 10% of waves could be 25-30% higher than the significant wave height. On occasion, one can expect to see a wave nearly twice the significant wave height (e.g. maximum wave height). On average, most boaters encounter waves that are only about 65% the height of the reported significant sea, because most boaters avoid storms and conditions that allow the largest waves to form.

 


 

Appendix D: GCOOS EOC 2009 Meeting Pre-Workshop Teams

Team One: Waves and Water Level Team Two: Surface Currents and Bathymetry
John O’Connell Joe Swaykos
Jean May-Brett Stephan Howden
Gwen Emick Barb Kirpatrick
Brent Gaskill Dianne Lindstedt
Lei Hu Carol Lutken
Ann Jochens Rusty Low
Jessica Kastler Lloyd Scott
Charlene Mauro Chris Simoniello
Dinah Maygarden Rob Smith
Angela Sallis Debbi Stone
Margaret Sedlecky  Chris Verlinde
Mike Spranger Lee Yokel
Pamela Terasaki  
Sharon Walker  
Ann Weaver  


Bold
= team leader
Italics = unable to attend the meeting

 


 

Appendix E: EOC Liaisons to other GCOOS Councils and Committees

Board of Directors – Joe Swaykos, EOC Chair
DMAC – Chris Simoniello, E/O Coordinator
Observing Systems Committee – Chris Verlinde, Florida Sea Grant (FSG)
Products & Services Committee – Angela Sallis, NCDDC, and Mike Spranger, FSG
Stakeholder Council – Mike Spranger, FSG