December 2, 2020
SAN DIEGO – Today, Rep. Scott Peters (CA-52) voted to pass the Coordinated Ocean Observations and Research Act. This legislation reauthorizes the Integrated Coastal and Ocean Observation System (ICOOS,) a national-regional partnership that provides critical tools and forecasts to improve safety, enhance the economy, and protect our environment. ICOOS researchers and scientists collect various data that may be used to predict climate-related events near our coasts, and in our oceans and Great Lakes.
“Gathering and sharing comprehensive data with the public is vital in the fight against climate change, especially in San Diego given its coastal geography,” Rep. Peters said. “The bill we passed today will undoubtedly lead to more informed decision-making to meet the needs of our communities, from tourism and development planning to industries depending on a clean ocean and changes in environmental policy.”
This bill reauthorizes nationwide support for the ICOOS program, including one of its regional associations right here in San Diego. UC San Diego’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography hosts the Southern California Coastal Ocean Observing System (SCCOOS,) one of the 11 ICOOS associations throughout the United States. SCCOOS provides coverage from Point Conception to the border with Mexico and works with local, state, and federal agencies, policy-makers, educators, scientists, non-governmental organizations, and the public to make ocean and coastal data more widely available. Access to this information improves our ability to understand and predict coastal events, such as storms, wave heights, and sea level change; critical knowledge for the district Rep Peters represents, which includes around 30 miles of coastline.
“The ICOOS Reauthorization will enable SCCOOS to continue implementing critical marine operations and deliver timely data, models, and products that meet the needs of stakeholders in diverse communities ranging from the U.S. Coast Guard Search and Rescue to the Ports to the National Marine Fisheries Service and National Marine Sanctuaries,” SCCOOS Executive Director Clarissa Anderson, Ph.D., said.
SCCOOS’ tools and observations programs also include a new Harmful Algal Bloom (HAB) pilot project to understand what triggers the toxicity of algal blooms. The project uses imaging and big data to establish a framework to predict when and where a toxic bloom may occur. If successful, the pilot project will be used in various regions. Another project, a high frequency radar network, measures surface currents and is useful to understand ocean circulation for search and rescue efforts, wave forecasts, and oil spill recovery.
ICOOS exists within the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA.) This legislation also directs NOAA to seek public input before the Named Storm Event Model and allows NOAA to deploy sensors to areas in coastal states that are at the highest risk of experiencing geophysical events that would cause indeterminate losses.