Back in January, NOAA announced its hydrographic survey plans for 2020. Now, as we enter into this year’s survey season, the Coast Survey will begin its fieldwork on this year’s priority projects—which have been years in the planning.
The Coast Survey is responsible for creating and maintaining more than 1,000 nautical charts—covering 95,000 miles of shoreline and 3.4 million square nautical miles of water along U.S. coasts and the Great Lakes. As you might imagine, deciding which areas to survey each year is not easy. In addition to reviewing requests from a range of stakeholders—from the U.S. Coast Guard to the boating community—survey planners must take a lot of factors into consideration when selecting the year’s most critical projects.
Here are the areas that made this year’s list . . .
- Norton Sound – This survey will improve the safety of maritime traffic and services available to remote coastal communities by reducing the current risk of unknown water depths.
- Newenham – This survey will improve the safety of maritime traffic and services available to Bethel and communities around Goodnews Bay by reducing the current navigation risk due to unknown hazards.
- Glacier Bay – Modern surveys will increase maritime safety and address uncharted areas exposed by receding glaciers in this area.
- Southeast Alaska – This new data will identify hazards and changes to the seafloor, provide data for nautical charting products, and improve maritime safety.
- Herendeen Bay – This was deemed high priority survey area following a request from the Alaska Marine Pilots.
To see more project details and prioritization factors, see NOAA’s Alaska story map.
- Chicago, IL: This 371-square-nautical-mile survey area includes the Chicago Harbor and portions of the Indiana and Michigan shorelines.
To see more project details and prioritization factors, see NOAA’s Great Lakes story map.
- Gardiners Bay, NY – This bay is home to recreational, tourism, and ferry vessels transiting from Long Island Sound to the north and south sides of Shelter Island.
- Long Island Sound, NY – This project encompasses a large area of shoreline that is home to almost eight million people and includes the highly trafficked lower Hudson River and Green River.
- Central Chesapeake Bay, VA – This survey will close a critical gap in existing modern hydrographic data between the entrance to Chesapeake Bay up through Baltimore.
- Onslow Bay, NC – This project covers 362 square nautical miles in an area of shifting shoals.
- Cape Canaveral, FL – This project, which covers 376 square nautical miles, is approximately six nautical miles southeast of Cape Canaveral and includes a very busy cruise port.
To see more project details and prioritization factors, see NOAA’s Atlantic Coast story map.
GULF OF MEXICO
- Apalachicola, FL – The survey will provide updated bathymetry and feature data to address concerns of migrating shoals.
- Approaches to Houston, TX – Modern surveys in this area are important for navigational safety and as a tool to help planners and researchers model and manage issues as diverse as floodwater movement and oyster reef restoration.
- Approaches to Galveston, TX – This survey will identify changes to the bathymetry and aid in the reduction of risks to marine traffic.
- Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary – This project will support efforts to protect ecologically sensitive and important areas within the Northwestern Gulf of Mexico, which have not been surveyed to modern standards.
To see more project details and prioritization factors, visit NOAA’s Gulf of Mexico story map.
- Commonwealth of the Mariana Islands: This survey project—which brings together a unique, multidisciplinary NOAA team to map the waters around Guam, Saipan, Rota, Tinian, and other islands in the northern part of the Commonwealth of the Mariana Islands—aims to broaden Coast Survey’s ocean mapping skills and to support a diverse scientific community both inside and outside of NOAA.
To learn more details, visit NOAA’s Mariana Islands story map.