Updated: 18 December 2014

Nineteenth Meeting of the GCOOS-RA Board of Directors
11 September 2014
Houston, TX

On the evening preceding the Board meeting, a celebratory dinner was held for Dr. Ann Jochens and Hans Juvkam-Wold. Jochens, recently retired from her position as Executive Director, was honored for her service to the GCOOS-RA and IOOS. The dinner at Chez Nous Cuisine Française in Humble, Texas, was attended by the staff and Directors of the GCOOS-RA, NOAA IOOS Program Office and IOOS Association leadership, and a colleague from Mexico.

Welcome and Introductions

Following a brief welcome by Jan van Smirren, President of the Board of Directors, participants observed a moment of silence to remember those who lost their lives 13 years ago on 9/11. Van Smirren then spoke about safety, reminding the group that it is everyone’s responsibility within an organization, including the Board, to be cognoscente. He then introduced and welcomed Dr. Barb Kirkpatrick, GCOOS Executive Director, to the group.

Van Smirren announced that he will be stepping down as the Chairman of the Board due to increasing job demands related to his promotion at FugroGEOS. One thing he learned as Chairman is that going forward, GCOOS must devise a plan to address the financial challenge of not only supporting ocean observing assets, but the costs required for maintenance.

Following van Smirren’s opening remarks, Kirkpatrick welcomed everyone, provided meeting logistics, and requested participants introduce themselves. The meeting attendees are listed in Appendix A.

Dr. Worth Nowlin moved to adopt the provisional agenda as presented with the understanding that it could be modified if necessary. Terry McPherson seconded the motion. The agenda adopted is given in Appendix B.

GCOOS-RA Overview

Nowlin provided an overview of the GCOOS-RA, including historical context and its relation to the Global Ocean Observing System.

Gulf of Mexico restoration activities

Dr. Chris Elfring, Director, Gulf Research Program (GRP), provided an overview of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) GRP, including a summary of their recently released Strategic Plan (http://nas.edu/gulf/vision/index.htm). She identified three research priority areas, Environmental Protection, Human Health, and Oil System Safety, stating that NAS will receive more than $500 million from Deepwater Horizon oil spill penalties, to be spent over 30 years. While these monies cannot go to federal entities, they can be leveraged to gain federal resources. Funding will likely be awarded to programs that best intersect the three research priority areas. Elfring encouraged meeting participants to sign up for the NAS newsletter at http://www.nas.edu/gulf to keep abreast of announcements and funding opportunities.

Jonathan Porthouse, Senior Manager, National Fish and Wildlife Federation (NFWF), provided an overview of the NFWF program He informed the group that NFWF is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year. They have been able to leverage about $3 in private contributions for every $1 in federal money invested. The primary goals of NFWF are to sustain, restore, and enhance the nation’s national heritage; facilitate collaboration among public agencies and the private sector; and ensure accountability and transparency of conservation investments.

Russ Beard, Director, NOAA National Coastal Data Development Center, spoke about the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council and the NOAA RESTORE Act Science Program. The Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Science Program Advisory Working Group was officially constituted on 1 October 2014. Members include representatives from the Gulf States Marine Fisheries Commission, Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council, the five RESTORE Centers of Excellence, and ex-officio members from the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative, National Academy of Sciences Gulf Research Program, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. Beard will be stepping down as the lead for the NOAA RESTORE Act Science Program. The position will be filled by Dr. Becky Allee. The second draft of the Science Plan is expected to be released for public comment by November. The RFP is anticipated to be released early in 2015.

Dr. Monty Graham, The University of Southern Mississippi, and Nowlin, on behalf of Dr. Larry McKinney, gave brief presentations about the Mississippi and Texas Centers of Excellence (COE), respectively. Planning for the centers is delayed until the rules for the Centers are published. Treasury Department documents related to COE guidance are available here. Using the public health issue of Vibrio as an example, Graham suggested that one possible scenario is for a portion of all COE money to go to GCOOS to pull together regional efforts on specific issues.

The GCOOS-RA Build-out Plan

Kirkpatrick gave an overview of the process used to develop the Build-out Plan. She provided details about the number of people and stakeholder groups involved and gave participants copies of two informational flyers created to educate people about the process and content in the Build-out Plan.

Following the invited presentations, Landry Bernard, Associate Executive Director, moderated a discussion. Key points made are summarized below.

  • There was consensus that the strengths of the GCOOS-RA include its Data Management and Communications, and Outreach and Education activities. These have positioned GCOOS to participate in RESTORE-related activities.
  • After Hurricane/Extratropical Storm Sandy, AOML and Mississippi State University deployed three wave gliders to measure heat flux. The 90-day data set may go into the GCOOS Data Portal for use in numerical modeling.
  • The question “Where do you think GCOOS can help you or support your program?” was asked of Elfring, Porthouse, and Beard. Beard said that he’d like to use the Build-out Plan to identify needed observations. GCOOS needs to engage more actively with NOAA as proposals are submitted, as well as with RESTORE. While RESTORE won’t fund Operations & Maintenance (O&M), they will fund new techniques and adaptive sampling for efficient observations. Neither NOAA RESTORE nor the Council will fund long term data management. Beard suggested GCOOS can advocate for funding with congressional delegations for data management and archiving.
  • Porthouse said that NFWF does not want to reinvent what GCOOS has done. The question is how best to leverage the GCOOS work into NFWF, in a project-specific manner. Areas he identified for GCOOS engagement included: fostering data collection consistency; creating compatible standards and protocols; developing user guidance and technical manuals; education to promote use of data management tools; raising awareness of decision makers; and establishing baseline conditions and specific monitoring plans for every NFWF project funded.
  • Elfring stated that the NAS Board needs to ramp up and determine how environmental monitoring will fit into the NAS mission. Funding will be via a competitive process. GCOOS needs to understand the NAS Plan and guide NAS to the resources the RA can provide. She suggested GCOOS be more active in selling the BOP by using a ‘what problem of yours can we solve’ rather than ‘here is the plan and tells us what you need’ approach. She emphasized that NAS is interested in funding something that would make several priorities ‘click into place’ and catalyze other new projects.

Council, Committee, and Task Team Reports

Ken Barbor, chair of the Products & Services Advisory Council, discussed challenges engaging the PSAC. One action is to poll members and determine interest in continued participation. Once members are confirmed, a meeting date will be determined. Dr. Matt Howard suggested boosting participation by setting up a wiki to facilitate online collaboration. Dr. Stephan Howden suggested that an effective approach to engage might be entraining small groups to work on specific issues.

Dr. Chris Simoniello, Outreach and Education Lead, reported on Outreach and Education activities with GCOOS staff and the Outreach and Education Council. Simoniello chaired the steering committee for the Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) Workshop hosted by GCOOS. She also reported on work she has been doing in support of the Integrated Tracking of Aquatic Animals in the Gulf of Mexico (iTag) project, the Florida Oil Spill Coordination and Incident Command team, the GOMA Deepwater Horizon Project Tracker, updating the Eco Hero/EPA exhibit, and preparing for several science festivals. She presented information on six products suggested by the Outreach and Education Council, co-chaired by Chris Verlinde and Charlene Mauro. She also summarized several projects she and Stephanie Watson are considering to celebrate the 10 year anniversary of GCOOS in 2015. Following her presentation, Sara Graves suggested the outreach and education content on the website should be more visible and accessible.

Josie Quintrell, Executive Director, IOOS Association, reported on the Government Relations Task Team on behalf of Dr. Michael Spranger. She said the government is operating under a continuing resolution until December 11, 2014, after which time a government shutdown is possible. Quintrell stated that Congressional outreach has been effective as evidenced by the small increase in IOOS funding, and that GCOOS should continue showcasing successes both at the local and national level. She emphasized reaching out to Senator Shelby from Alabama because he is very supportive of IOOS and she thanked David Sawyer, representative for Senator Ted Cruz, for joining the GCOOS meeting. To help the RAs have consistency in messaging and promote IOOS branding, the Program Office created a four-page brochure that can be customized by each RA. Quintrell ended by informing the group that Congress recently passed the Harmful Algal Bloom and Hypoxia Research and Control Act, and that reauthorization of the ICOOS Act is pending.

Howden reported on the Gulf Glider Task Team (GTT) and announced that he is stepping down as chair and that Chad Lembke will be the new chair. Two tasks for the GGTT are to update the glider section of the Build-out Plan and to plan a multi-institutional Glider event. Possible glider-related activities for GCOOS are to do simulation experiments comparing model runs with and without assimilated glider data and to determine the feasibility of using gliders as mobile platforms in acoustic telemetry. Funding for the latter is being provided to Lembke from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

Kirkpatrick reported on the Public Health & Safety Task Team. Carol Dorsey and Steve Buschang volunteered to assist in reviewing membership of the committee and suggest new members. The new Terms of Reference are available on the website (link). It was suggested that Dr. Charlie Paxton, rip current specialist with NOAA National Weather Service-Tampa Weather Forecast Office, be invited to the team.

Pat Hogan, Naval Research Laboratory, reported on the Modeling Task Team (MTT) on behalf of Cort Cooper. Three important actions completed by the MTT are: 1) held an ecosystem modeling workshop in April 2014; 2) updated the Ecosystem Modeling section in the BOP; and 3) completed a summary table of all operational circulation models in the Gulf of Mexico. Their recommendation is that GCOOS use existing models rather than create new ones. They suggest a valuable task for GCOOS would be adapting the DeepC Viewer to serve the existing 16 models. A unique feature of the model viewer is that it gives an uncertainty forecast—this error of prediction provides a probability-based approach to decision making and risk management. Howard and Cooper are working to host the DeepC Viewer on the GCOOS servers. Because the system is built,only funds for maintenance costs are needed.

Subcontractor Reports

Dr. Chunyan Li (LSU) reported on iWAVCIS – the improved WAVCIS. The objectives of the improved WAVCIS are to include metocean data, coastal currents, and oscillations in bays. Li is looking for collaborations and linkages. Most of Li’s operation issues stem from the fact that overall funding is decreasing. There is only enough money to maintain one station but he is trying to keep three stations active. Equipment is becoming obsolete and there are no funds to upgrade.

Nancy Rabalais reported on LUMCON activities. State budget cuts are responsible for the loss of all but one station. She is rebuilding two stations with new equipment and new communications devices (LUMCON and Terrebonne Bay). However, because of data storage issues with the manufacturer of their new system, LUMCON has not been able to share data with GCOOS. Rabalais is working to find a solution so that LUMCON data can be shared via the GCOOS Portal. No new stations are planned at this time.

Larry Lloyd, Conrad Blucher Institute, reported on his research identifying potential data providers for the Integrated Water Quality Network project [Excel spreadsheet]. He sorted the potential data providers into three groups: 1) Providers of readily accessible online real-time data; 2) Providers of readily accessible online non-real-time data sets; and 3) Providers of data that are not readily available online. The latter group mainly offers geophysiochemical data. Currently there are eight online providers; 17 non-real-time providers, and eight legacy data providers. Howard informed the group that GCOOS will soon have the integrated water quality data available via the GCOOS Data Portal.

Report from Mexican Colleagues

Dr. Porfirio Álvarez-Torres, Consortium of Marine Research Institutions of the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean, reported on ongoing GCCOOS-related activities in Mexico. He informed the group that LUMCON was the first U.S. signatory to the Consortium. There is a bilateral forum on higher education, innovation, and research (FOBESII) and he is working toward 100,000 students or experts interning to increase knowledge of English in Mexico and Spanish in the U.S. One issue in Mexico is that there is no central entity similar to NOAA to coordinate ocean observations, so things are decentralized and fragmented. Alvarez-Torres is working to bring technology currently used in the Pacific and Atlantic oceans into the Gulf of Mexico. He said the Mexican Integrated Coastal Ocean Observing System (MexICOOS) is especially interested in bringing HF radar technology to the Gulf. There is interest on the part of UNESCO to have pilot projects in Mexico, Argentina/Chile, Indonesia, and Vietnam, all of which have initiated Blue Growth strategies and coastal zone protection programs. Initial plans are for radar systems to be installed in Tamaulipas, Tampico, Tabasco and possibly Quintana. In response to questions, Alvarez-Torres stated that Mexico does have a HF radar plan that can be shared and that there is some economic valuation data for existing systems.

Brief Summary of Board Decisions made during Last Closed Session

The Board meeting was adjourned and followed by a brief meeting of the Executive Committee.


Appendix A: Meeting Attendees

Attendee Name Affiliation
Porfirio Álvarez-Torres CiMar-GoMC
Ken Barbor GCOOS Products & Services Advisory Council
Landry Bernard GCOOS Associate Executive Director
Steve Buschang Texas General Land Office
Craig Davis Texas General Land Office
Carol Dorsey Alabama Department of Public Health
David Driver BP America
Dave Easter NOAA IOOS Office
Chris Elfring National Academy of Sciences
Carl Gouldman NOAA IOOS Office
Monty Graham University of Southern Mississippi
Sara Graves University of Alabama at Huntsville
Al Hart Continental Shelf Associates
Pat Hogan Naval Research Laboratory
Matt Howard GCOOS Data Manager
Stephan Howden University of Southern Mississippi
Barb Kirkpatrick GCOOS Executive Director
Mike Lee USGS
Chunyan Li LSU – WAVCIS
William Lingsch Vencore
Larry Lloyd TAMU – Corpus Christi
Susan Martin GCOOS Office
Terry McPherson LMI
Worth Nowlin TAMU Emeritus
Jon Porthouse National Fish and Wildlife Federation
Josie Quintrell IOOS Association
Nancy Rabalais LUMCON
David Sawyer Senator Ted Cruz’ office
Chris Simoniello GCOOS Outreach & Education
Joe Swaykos NOAA
Jan van Smirren FugroGEOS
Stephanie Watson GCOOS Communications
Jennifer Wozencraft U.S. Army Corps of Engineers


Appendix B: Agenda

Day 1, September 11, 2014

Open Meeting

Note that we will have coffee, tea, and water, as well as breakfast at the meeting room.

8:00 Remarks by Board Chair
8:10 Self introductions
8:15 Adoption of agenda
Introduction of GCOOS-RA
8:20 An overview noting that we are the lead for observations/monitoring in the Gulf of Mexico, but pointing out that we are collaborating with others, e.g., GOMURC, SECOORA and GOMA, in this effort and encourage participation by all parties. (Worth Nowlin)
Discussion regarding Gulf of Mexico restoration activities
8:40 Representative from NAS Gulf Research Program (Chris Elfring)
9:00 Representative from NFWF’s Gulf Environmental Benefit Fund (Jon Porthouse)
9:20 Representative from Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council (Russ Beard)
9:40 Representative from NOAA RESTORE Act Science Program (Russ Beard)
Representatives from potential RESTORE Centers of Excellence
10:20 Mississippi (Monty Graham)
10:40 Texas (Worth Nowlin for Larry McKinney)
The GCOOS Build-out Plan
11:00 Development procedure and overview (Barb Kirkpatrick)
Discussion of Morning Material
11:25 Landry Bernard, moderator
Council, Committee, and Task Team Reports
1:50 Products & Services Advisory Council (Ken Barbor)
2:00 Outreach & Education Council, including report on NGO Workshop (Report sent by Chris Verlinde, given by Chris Simoniello)
2:20 Membership Committee (report sent by Alyssa Dausman)
2:25 Government Relations Task Team (report sent by Mike Spranger)
2:30 Gulf Glider Task Team (Stephan Howden)
2:40 Public Health and Safety Task Team (Barb Kirkpatrick)
2:50 Modeling Task Team, including report on Ecosystem Monitoring Workshop (Cort Cooper via WebEx or Pat Hogan)
Subcontractor Reports
3:20 LSU (Chunyan Li)
3:30 LUMCON (Nancy Rabalais)
3:40 Conrad Blucher Institute (Larry Lloyd)
Report from Mexican Colleagues
3:50 Report on CiMar-GoMC, the Mexican Integrated Coastal Ocean Observing System, and the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Educators Alliance (Porfirio Alvarez Torres)
4:20 Review of remaining action items from previous Board meetings; action items; any new business for second day


Day 2, September 12, 2014

Closed Meeting only for Board Members and Directors

Adjourn at noon.