For example, CO-OPS delivers a product called Storm QuickLook to provide a synopsis of near real-time ocean and weather observations at locations when a hurricane is threatening an area. Operated year round in 21 locations around the U. Center for Operational Oceanographic Products and Services. Physical Oceanographic Real-Time System. The oceans are trading routes for the planet. The U. And that is just one example. All segments of our economy rely on timely exports and imports. The safe movement of goods in and out of ports can't stop because of an oil spill. To help mariners safely navigate following major spills, the Office of Coast Survey updates nautical chart products that display spill zone forecasts based on the best-available projections.
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The charts depict the hour forecast for oil location, juxtaposed against the standard safety fairways that lead to port approaches. These electronic and raster charts alert ship captains to the location of the forecasted spill area, so that captains can take efforts to avoid the spill. Coast Guard also uses the chart information to develop instructions and alternative anchorages for vessels transiting U.
A nautical chart depicts the nature and shape of the coast, water depths, and general topography of the ocean floor; locations of navigational danger and protected marine life; predicted tides; locations of human-made aids to navigation; and, in port areas, traffic separation schemes. Ships transiting U. For over years, NOAA's Office of Coast Survey has created and updated the nation's charts, providing mariners with the accuracy and precision they need to navigate the shortest, safest, and most economical routes.
Office of Coast Survey. NOAA experts in OCM not only provide data, but also the tools, training, and assistance needed to turn these data into useful information. Satellite imagery and socioeconomic findings represent the most requested data sets, and services provided include skilled facilitators who help affected parties come together to determine how to best address current and future oil-related impacts.
OCM administers the National Coastal Zone Management Program , a voluntary federal-state partnership that protects, restores, and responsibly develops our nation's diverse coastal communities and resources. Through this program, experts provide technical and financial assistance and deliver federal updates, information, and contacts to to state coastal management programs.
OCM staff also help coastal managers prepare for the possibility of oil reaching their coastal waters and shores. In addition, OCM administers the National Estuarine Research Reserve System , a network of estuarine areas established across the nation for long-term stewardship, research, and education. Estuaries are crucial spawning areas for many commercial and recreational fish and shellfish, and they buffer upland areas from flooding and shoreline erosion. Since the effects of oil in estuaries can be especially damaging, OCM maintains close contact with the regional reserves affected by spills to help them prepare for the possible landfall of oil or chemicals.
Their assistance includes serving as a clearinghouse to match existing expertise with specific needs at the affected reserves. In addition, the reserve system provides a wealth of long-term environmental data that is used to support planning and modeling related to spills. Office for Coastal Management. Digital Coast. National Estuarine Research Reserve System. National Coastal Zone Management Program.
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The release of oil and chemicals into our coastal waterways is a major problem — for our environment in particular, but also for the people and communities that depend on the environment for survival, commerce, recreation, and culture. Marine pollution can affect the availability of food, particularly in the fishing industry. The systems also remain functional in high heat and other emergency situations. Progress will likely continue in this direction, preventing collisions and allowing goods to reach markets all around the world. Technavio market research analysts have predicted that the global marine communication systems market could grow at a CAGR of more than 8 percent by Old submarine communications systems have been replaced with wireless technologies such as Li-F i and 5G NR.
Additionally, new communications systems can convert text into Morse code, which increases the ease of transmitting messages. Communications improvements have also been felt within the tourism industry as cruise industry operators increasingly provide onboard internet and mobile services.
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The Ocean Supercluster is looking into autonomous vehicles to improve the inspection and maintenance of large marine assets, such as ships, oil platforms, and industrial infrastructure. Although the media has paid a lot of attention to the self-driving cars attempting to roam our asphalt, the same revolution is happening on the water.
Autonomous underwater vehicles or gliders are also able to measure oceanographic parameters like temperature, salinity, and pressure. Some of these vehicles function by using small changes in buoyancy and wings to achieve forward motion. I ce trackers can serve as an early warning system to oil platforms, letting them know if treacherous icebergs are approaching.
The hazard of floating ice is more threatening than in previous years due to global warming. Fortunately, remote sensing technology allows workers to prepare well in advance, reducing the chances of disaster and environmental pollution. Sometimes, vessels are actually able to strategically maneuver around icebergs in order to change the direction of the ice.
The ocean is a shared resource, transcending all boundaries and sovereignties, and it is vulnerable to exploitation. Without shared data and sustainable techniques, the ocean might continue to suffer under human impact. Ideally, emerging technologies geared towards safeguarding it will be developed sustainably and collaboratively, allowing us to thrive alongside our oceans. Transport by vessel may be more likely, since there are multiple capping stack locations around the world. In general, these organizations have significant experience with deepwater drilling operations and response needs.
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In the event of an oil spill, wildlife, including birds and marine mammals, could be impacted. Impacts could be due to contact with oil or disturbance from spill response activities. Wildlife response strategies are categorized as primary, secondary, and tertiary. The secondary strategy is to deter wildlife from entering the oiled areas through techniques such as passive visual methods and active auditory methods e. Preemptive capture and moving of unoiled wildlife is included in the secondary strategy. Only trained and authorized personnel are allowed to conduct active deterrence and capture activities.
The tertiary strategy is to capture and rehabilitate oiled wildlife for possible release back to the environment. Rehabilitation and release of wildlife will likely be a key component of oil spill response in the Arctic.
Those types of activities are complicated in the Arctic because of logistical issues, the likely remoteness of a spill, the use of many wildlife species for subsistence purposes by local communities, and the size and type of wildlife that might need to be responded to, such as polar bears and walruses. There are also legal issues that would need to be considered for some species, such as adherence to the Marine Mammal Protection Act or the Endangered Species Act.
For many species, federal agencies co-manage with Alaska partners. Rehabilitation and release of wildlife in the event of a spill would need to be accomplished in close association with subsistence hunters and marine mammal co-management organizations, such as the Ice Seal Committee. The Ice. Seal Committee has requested that sick or injured ice seals not be rehabilitated and released because of concerns about possibly introducing diseases into the wild population, but it is not clear what the policy would be in the event of a spill.
Response methods for birds affected by an oil spill are generally well established e. International Bird Rescue also owns a rehabilitation facility in Anchorage. However, there is a minimal amount of equipment, with capacity to respond to up to five oiled bears. Deterrence methods for marine mammals have been considered for use during spill drills in Alaska, including air guns or other noisemaking devices. However, no techniques have been tested or are formally approved at this time. This may be of greatest concern for whales and walruses, because there are no approved deterrence methods.
NOAA faces a number of issues regarding deterrence and rehabilitation of wildlife—a lack of scientific study and developed protocols regarding hazing of marine mammals, working within the existing legal framework, and a lack of consensus with native co-managers. There are presently no facilities in Alaska with capacity to receive and rehabilitate any significant numbers of marine mammals presentation from Brad Smith, NOAA, March Working relationships and procedures are improving, but additional resources are needed to increase capabilities.
The Alaska SeaLife Center has developed protocols for the care of oil-affected phocid seals and has reviewed equipment on hand for polar bear response and determined the additional equipment necessary for seal response. One positive aspect of response activities in the Arctic is that, unlike other regions, many of the Arctic animals do not need.
Fish totes can be used for most initial activities and a facility with large holding tanks is not necessary. Planning for marine mammal response in northern Alaska is under way but still in its infancy, with significant logistical challenges. Space, water, power, and personnel support facilities are in short supply, although small portable capabilities are under consideration. Alaska has an extensive stranding network which could assist during a spill event, but trained and authorized live animal capture and handling personnel are in short supply.
Support for wildlife response e. Expectations for marine mammal response could be better defined—for example, how to respond to large marine mammals, which are difficult to approach unless they are incapacitated; tactics if an oil spill impacts a haulout; and the consequences of attempting to deter or move an animal versus no response. It does not appear that recent oil spills such as the Deepwater Horizon have led to new or different methods of deterrence. A primary goal of a spill response is to keep oil off the coast, in order to minimize impacts to sensitive habitats.
The basic oil spill response strategies used in temperate regions are generally applicable to Arctic marine and shoreline environments. Specific differences are likely to relate to the remoteness of Arctic environments and an expectation of challenging working conditions Potter et al. As a result, Arctic operations require an understanding of specific response techniques e.
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General shoreline cleanup approaches include physical removal, in situ techniques, and natural processes Sergy et al. Additionally, possible interaction between sediments in the shore zone and the oil need to be considered. While there is likely to be little tidal mixing energy, wave action in the surf zone could lead to significant oil-sediment interaction Owens et al. Oiled sediments can be treated in different manners, including in situ treatment through dry or wet mixing as well as sediment relocation.
The goal in these cases is to increase the exposure of oiled sediments to weathering processes, in order to accelerate natural degradation. In the cases where oil refloats during exposure to wave action or other energetic processes, it can be contained and collected Polaris Applied Science, As with most oil spill responses, the Net Environmental Benefit Analysis NEBA process described in the next section is one approach to assess potential countermeasures, whether they are active e. It also helps to determine whether additional environmental damage could be caused as a result of specific response actions.
In remote locations such as the Arctic, where physical access may not be practical, using a biodegradation response may provide for less physical damage than would be incurred by the use of manual removal techniques. An additional consideration is avoiding the possibility of placing responders in hazardous situations to perform beach cleanup. Preferable techniques are in situ and natural attenuation processes, which lead to lower waste generation for shore zone operations.
Onboard incineration of collected oil and oily waste could provide another opportunity to reduce the volumes of contaminated material. New techniques that reduce waste, such as herding agents that allow for in situ burning without the use of fire-resistant boom, may also be of high value for Arctic spills Buist et al. Regardless of the response method or methods used, there will be some environmental impacts due to an oil spill.
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Numerous factors must be considered for the selection of oil spill response procedures for use in contingency plans and emergency response operations. These factors include the probability of an oil spill, the possible volume and type of crude oil or refined product that might be spilled, environmental factors influencing the fate and behavior of the hydrocarbons that could be released, the sensitivity of the most valued ecosystem components VECs to oil pollution, the potential impacts from the application of oil spill countermeasures e.
It provides decision makers a strategy for deciding what response options are appropriate at a specific spill location based on the analysis of environmental tradeoffs that may occur from the use of the various oil spill countermeasures available Baker, From an ecological point of view, NEBA provides a protocol for weighing the advantages and disadvantages of various spill responses with regard to flora and fauna and their habitats within the specific area of concern, compared with no response known as natural attenuation. In addition to providing information for the selection of the best cleanup methods, the NEBA process also provides an assessment of long-term effects on an ecosystem, guidance on the intensity level and operational end points for cleanup operations, and estimates of likely recovery rates Potter et al.
A decision process such as NEBA can be used to determine which countermeasures might be best to reduce detrimental effects to an already contaminated environment. Case studies have conclusively shown that the application of aggressive cleanup operations may delay the rates of habitat recovery by caus-. For example, in the aftermath of the Exxon Valdez incident, excavation and washing of rocks to remove surface and subsurface oil was shown not to offer a net environmental benefit because the procedures altered shore structure and delayed biological recovery NOAA Hazardous Materials Response Branch, In the event of a large oil spill, a single spill response strategy is unlikely to provide optimal protection for all environmental resources as more than one environmental compartment i.
In fact, a response strategy that provides protection for one environmental resource e. Decision makers select the optimal response strategy based on the protection of priority environmental resources and the countermeasures that offer them the greatest protection. NEBA incorporates prioritization criteria for the protection of VECs that could be impacted by oiling, cleanup operations, or residual oil.
These rare and valuable species of aquatic plants and animals have scientific, social, cultural, economic, historical, archaeological, or aesthetic importance, determined on the basis of cultural ideals or scientific concern Forbes, VECs identified for the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas include higher-trophic-level species such as polar bears, whales, and seals; prey species such as capelin and sculpin; and activities such as seal hunts Lee et al.
The analysis will also consider seasonal variations of these valued ecosystem components e. There are several response countermeasures available for oil spill response on open water and in ice physical recovery, dispersant applications, in situ burning, and monitoring natural recovery , as well as on shorelines e. There are clear differences in operational limits for each oil spill response strategy—advantages for some techniques can include speed, efficiency, or ease of use, while disadvantages can include burn residue or leftover oil due to low encounter rates.
The value of a particular method will depend on the situation, including weather conditions, organisms and ecosystems that are impacted, the availability of response support, and the type of oil spilled.
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A NEBA process needs to include all identified factors in order to select the best response strategy. Concerns about accidental releases of oil have risen with the expansion of frontier oil and gas and marine shipping industries within the Arctic Circle AMAP, To date, there has not been a large oil spill within Arctic marine waters.
Small spills have been primarily associated with fishing activities AMAP, , although larger spills have occurred in ice-covered subarctic waters such as the Gulf of Finland Runner 4 and the Gulf of St. Lawrence Kurdistan, Arrow. However, with the expected increase in exploration and production operations in deeper offshore waters, and due to.
Scenario 6 Well Blowout. An exploratory well in the offshore Chukchi Sea suffers a major blowout late in the drilling season. The shallow well was being drilled in about 45 m of water within a targeted oil zone approximately km from the coast of Alaska.