[Coral-List] Caribbean Obs - response to recent Coral mails

Doug Wilson Doug.Wilson at noaa.gov
Mon Oct 3 09:42:02 EDT 2005

I find this an interesting discussion.  It touches on many of my long 
time interests in the Caribbean, from observing systems, to FL Straits 
transport, to measurements of  inflow.  On the NOAA side, I have 
advocated for coordination of agency efforts in the region.  This has 
been particularly hard on the international front, in spite of 
well-intentioned recent efforts like White Water to Blue Water, but my 
hope has been that with the creation of the Caribbean IOOS RA, we would 
have a way to move towards greater efforts in the region as a whole.

This might be a good opportunity to make this group of addressees - 
joined by common interests in the region - aware of activities that I am 
involved in, and perhaps provide motivation for a larger discussion of 
how we can each take further steps to develop a way to combine all our  
similar  activities in a better, more integrated way.

First attachment are two slides from a presentation I gave to Al, Roger, 
Kara, et al in Boulder a few years ago when they were considering CREIOS 
- Coral Reef Ecosystem Integrated Observing Sytem - not sure where that 
plan went but it should be a excellent way to get involved in CaRA.

Recently, in a effort to build a zeroth-order observing system for the 
region, in my role as IOCARIBE-GOOS co-chair, I have been focusing on 
trying to establish a a basic sea-level network (considerable 
documentation at www.IOCARIBEGOOS.org).  Although we made this a goal in 
2004, it has drawn some new interest since the Indian Ocean tsunami and 
new discussions of a tsunami and coastal hazards mitigation system for 
the Caribbean.  I think that we now have enough US support - between 
David Green's tsunami group, GLOSS and OGP, some new money coming from 
the USAID/State Third Basin Initiative through NOAA, and a relevant 
milestone in the White House 'North American Security and Prosperity 
Program' (attached J16...; see 
http://www.usembassy.org.uk/forpo691.html).  I am working to bring 
togethar a NOAA group to meet on these, in preparation for a wider 
regional discussion.  There are other opportunities to support regional 
GOOS pilot projects in the region that would be strengthened if we had a 
broader base of support.  I am also using this opportunity to sugget 
that NOAA consider how we can contribute to  'observing system' (in the 
broadest meaning of the term) activities in the domestic and 
international region.  I cannot stress enough the importance of some 
integrated INVESTMENT in regional activities with tangible and 
sustainable results (credit to the coral folks for their work to date).

Margaret, I know CSC is committed to supporting RA's - maybe we could 
put something together with CaRA, (with the help of SEA and G COOSes?) 
to make a larger audience aware of regional needs and opportunities for 

Thanks for your time,


Frank Muller-Karger wrote:

> Roger - thank you for your prompt reply (glad to see you are back in 
> action). Perhaps this email train adds volume to the coral-list, but I 
> am copying Rick DeVoe (chair of SECOORA) and Julio Morell and Roy 
> Watlington (co-chairs of CaRA) to see if we can understand a bit 
> better why there is the perception that the US Fed agencies have not 
> been invited to participate in the development of the IOOS RA's. I 
> would hope that this is not the case since there is a clear role for 
> the agencies in this process. I see this as an opportunity to develop 
> a stronger four-legged chair, where the legs are: private 
> (commerce/NGO), academic, education, government (local, national, 
> international).
> With respect to partnerships, this is an opportunity to build up 
> capacity in the regions using existing programs (state, 
> researc/academic, NGO, commerce) to satisfy needs that feed into the 
> government management process. NOAA and other operational agencies can 
> and should use the exramural science community more - this is a 
> responsive community. This is admittedly a bit vague, but we can start 
> talking about specifics. One example that spans the whole region is 
> remote sensing.
> We can perhaps use the RA's as a focal point for partnerships, and 
> help them (is the word "incentivate" good here?) to coordinate us.
> Frank
> Roger B Griffis wrote:
>> Hello Frank - Thank you for the information and good suggestions.  We
>> (NOAA Coral Reef Conservation Program) are very keen to be full
>> contributing partners with the new Caribbean Regional Association (CaRA)
>> of the Integrated Ocean Observing System and the other efforts you
>> mention as well.  Agree there is much to be gained in better integration
>> and collaboration.
>> However, since the federal agencies have not been actively
>> requested/invited to engage in these regional IOOS groups however, we
>> have found it difficult to engage.  Please advise how you suggest we do
>> this ie key contacts, what information would be most useful.  We have
>> the contact info for the CaRA leads and will contact them to offer
>> assistance.
>> I am also particularly interested in your suggestions on how to better
>> collaboration/integrate efforts with "...the creative entities are a
>> step ahead in creating new ways to deliver and visualize the data for
>> the public, scientists, and managers in the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico
>> region." 
>> We stand ready and eager to provide information on the observing
>> tools/capabilities we can bring to regional efforts, and better
>> integrate these in regional context.
>> Thanks -
>> Roger
>>> Frank Muller-Karger wrote:
>>> Dear Alan:
>>> Thanks for forwarding this message. This exchange reminds me of the
>>> emails we sent each other earlier this year as we noticed the weak
>>> trade winds and higher SST's we observed in the Caribbean and middle
>>> of the tropical Atlantic...
>>> As you probably know, there is an effort to establish the Caribbean
>>> Regional Association (CaRA) of the Integrated Ocean Observing System
>>> under leadership of the University of the Virgin Islands (Roy
>>> Watlington) and the University of Puerto Rico (Julio Morell). This is
>>> with seed funding from NOAA's Coastal Services Center. CaRA is an
>>> ideal vehicle to move ahead in organizing regional partnerships to
>>> develop the observing system you and Scott have properly identified as
>>> necessary for the region. We need to link this also with the
>>> Southeastern Coastal Ocean Regional Association and the various
>>> IOCARIBE GOOS efforts.
>>> Note that the National Science FOundation also has funded, for over 10
>>> years now, an oceanographic time series in the Southern Caribbean
>>> (CARIACO). Another time series is supported by the state of Puerto
>>> Rico and the University of Puerto Rico (CATS).
>>> Engaging and supporting CaRA to help it develop would be a very
>>> beneficial thing for all in the region. It can help integrate the
>>> various NOAA, NSF, local and numerous NGO and other commercial
>>> programs that collect data independently - much of that data will be
>>> lost if not coordinated into a common format and database.
>>> You may also recall that we have several academic and private entities
>>> that are doing an incredibly good job of doing remote sensing of the
>>> region, and collecting, processing and redistributing various
>>> comprehensive remote sensing datasets. These creative entities are a
>>> step ahead in creating new ways to deliver and visualize the data for
>>> the public, scientists, and managers in the Caribbean and Gulf of
>>> Mexico region. I would like to see these programs better integrated in
>>> the NESDIS vision, rather than being effectively ignored by NESDIS (or
>>> NESDIS subsequently developing internal programs that try to do the
>>> same thing).
>>> I make another call for you and NOAA to partner with these entities
>>> within the region to serve the region, rather than develop all
>>> solutions internally within NOAA. I think everyone benefits this way,
>>> by nurturing the creative and entrepreneurial spirit you have in the
>>> community, and at the same time supporting the government's 24/7 role
>>> to protect our lives and property.
>>> Best regards,
>>> Frank
>>> Alan E. Strong wrote:
>>>> Hi Scott,
>>>> Thanks for that relevant overview of hurricane
>>>> development/growth....keep your eyes open for next week's EOS.  One
>>>> of our Branches here at NESDIS/ORA has a paper on the explosive
>>>> development of Katrina [also Rita!] as they moved through the
>>>> Gulf..over the DEEP warm waters  (fuel supply) of the Loop
>>>> Current....
>>>> Cheers,
>>>> Al
>>>> PS....I have CCed two Christopher's on this for their possible
>>>> comments: one with NHC and the other my son at the DC Forecast
>>>> Office in Sterling, VA
>>>> scott.stripling wrote:
>>>>> Kristen, Alan-
>>>>> To answer Kristen's question, atmospheric conditions, as well as
>>>>> oceanic conditions, must be favorable
>>>>> for tropical cyclones to form. So a very warm ocean will not
>>>>> necessarily lead to tropical cyclone
>>>>> development all by itself. Due to the oceanography of the local
>>>>> region, every year the upper layer
>>>>> waters are warm enough to support the development of tropical
>>>>> cyclones here in the NE Caribbean.
>>>>> The anomalously warm SST's that aid in setting up the biological
>>>>> conditions for bleaching can be assumed
>>>>> to be connected to weaker than normal trades across or very near
>>>>> the region in question, and/or
>>>>> other significant low level atmospheric changes that result in
>>>>> significant changes in oceanic currents.
>>>>> Both of these conditions now appear at play in our region. Surface
>>>>> pressure across the W Atlantic and into
>>>>> the northern Caribbean have generaly been below normal since the
>>>>> beginning of the year. This has helped
>>>>> to produce a displaced, or much weakened "Bermuda High", with the
>>>>> dominant high pressure cell
>>>>> in the Atlantic meandering closer to the Azores in the central and
>>>>> NE Atlantic. This has caused a reduced
>>>>> trade wind flow across the tropical Atlantic, leading to less
>>>>> mixing, and slower regional currents. Too,
>>>>> another factor at play is the larger scale horizontal circulation
>>>>> of the Atlantic. During the past 2 years, there
>>>>> have been  extended periods (on the order of several weeks) with
>>>>> greatly reduced transport or flow in the
>>>>> Gulf Stream off of Florida. This has to contribute to a slower
>>>>> than normal Atlantic Basin circulation and
>>>>> other such anomalies in the circulation patterns.
>>>>> It has been my contention that NOAA will never be able to
>>>>> accurately model the coupled global
>>>>> ocean-atmosphere system unless there is a more comprehensive in
>>>>> situ oceanic observing network
>>>>> established, with highest importance placed in regions of the
>>>>> major currents. In the case of the Atlantic,
>>>>> the Gulf stream is the major heat input to the hemisphere, and all
>>>>> the water flowing through the Gulf stream
>>>>> originates in the Caribbean. So to accurately model the entire
>>>>> Atlantic circulation, one would assume
>>>>> that in situ measurements would be needed of both the input and
>>>>> the output of the Gulf stream. That
>>>>> would mean monitoring the flow through the major passages into the
>>>>> Caribbean, as well as key segments
>>>>> along the Gulf stream flow. So...while I am on my soap box, may I
>>>>> ask of you on the coral list, and
>>>>> in NOAA to help point out this important issue to NOAA policy
>>>>> makers. One of NOAA's big
>>>>> strategic goals for the next decade is monitoring and modeling of
>>>>> climate change. I argue that if
>>>>> we don't have the proper input into the models, how can we
>>>>> accurately model this complex system?
>>>>> Scott Stripling
>>>>> NOAA-NWS San Juan
>>>>> Alan E. Strong wrote:
>>>>>> Hi Kristen -- Now that would be an interesting survey....we have
>>>>>> often observed that once an overall bleaching tendency has
>>>>>> established itself over a certain region as hurricanes move
>>>>>> though that region SSTs are brought down by mixing and
>>>>>> upwelling.  Obviously, this extra "fuel" available for the
>>>>>> tropical storm has the ability to enhance these tropical
>>>>>> storms...so much more is necessary from the atmosphere to first
>>>>>> permit a tropical depression to first develop...therein lies the
>>>>>> key....
>>>>>> Right now we are witnessing a large pool of anomalously high SSTs
>>>>>> centered around the Virgin Islands...but no hurricanes have
>>>>>> actually formed or been enhance, to my knowledge, over that area
>>>>>> yet this year...
>>>>>> Cheers,
>>>>>> Al
>>>>>> Kristen Hoss wrote:
>>>>>>> Hello,
>>>>>>> I was wondering if anyone has ever studied the correlation of
>>>>>>> coral bleaching episodes as possible indicators of what
>>>>>>> hurricane activity may be like during the year?  I was
>>>>>>> wondering if there was a connection that could be used as a
>>>>>>> prediction tool, or if the correlation would just be related to
>>>>>>> the already known water temperatures and weather patterns,
>>>>>>> etc....
>>>>>>> -Kristen Hoss
>>>>>>> Marine Researcher
>>>>>>> and Wildlife Biologist-USDA/APHIS/WS
>>>>>>> */"scott.stripling" <scott.stripling at noaa.gov>/* wrote:
>>>>>>>     With the NE Caribbean currently located underneath an
>>>>>>> elongated
>>>>>>>     area of
>>>>>>>     low pressure,
>>>>>>>     light and variable winds will continue to dominate the
>>>>>>> region for the
>>>>>>>     next 1 to 2 weeks.
>>>>>>>     Computer models are forecasting only brief (6-12 hour
>>>>>>> periods) of
>>>>>>>     anything
>>>>>>>     approaching normal trade wind flow during this time. Thus
>>>>>>> the
>>>>>>>     stagnant
>>>>>>>     mixing conditions will
>>>>>>>     persist regionally through the first week of October, at
>>>>>>> the least.
>>>>>>>     Scott Stripling
>>>>>>>     NOAA/NWS San Juan
>>>>>>>     Alan E Strong wrote:
>>>>>>>     > *NOTICE - Bleaching continues to evolve throughout
>>>>>>> Eastern
>>>>>>>     Caribbean*
>>>>>>>     >
>>>>>>>     > Beginning in the central Keys during August (Sombrero Key
>>>>>>>     especially)
>>>>>>>     > the warm water episode and accompanying bleaching for
>>>>>>> this year is
>>>>>>>     > progressing south and eastward through Cuba, Puerto Rico
>>>>>>> and the
>>>>>>>     > Virgin Islands. This can visually be seen in our recen t
>>>>>>> 12-week
>>>>>>>     > composite of HotSpot accumulations - Degree Heating Weeks
>>>>>>> (DHWs):
>>>>>>>     >
>>>>>>>     >
>>>>>>> http://www.osdpd.noaa.gov/PSB/EPS/SST/data2/dhwa.9.19.2005.gif
>>>>>>>     >
>>>>>>>     > and HotSpots:
>>>>>>>     >
>>>>>>>     > http://www.osdpd.noaa.gov/PSB/EPS/SST/data/hotspotwnc.gif
>>>>>>>     >
>>>>>>>     > Extremely high DHWs above "8" in much of the Virgin
>>>>>>> Islands are
>>>>>>>     quite
>>>>>>>     > worrisome as these levels in past bleaching events
>>>>>>> typically bring
>>>>>>>     > some mortality to corals. This evolving episode continues
>>>>>>> to be at
>>>>>>>     > near unprecedented levels of thermal stress for this
>>>>>>> region
>>>>>>>     since our
>>>>>>>     > satellite records began in the mid-80s. From the chart
>>>>>>> one can
>>>>>>>     observe
>>>>>>>     > that eastern Puerto Rico is under higher levels of
>>>>>>> thermal
>>>>>>>     stress at
>>>>>>>     > present than western PR....hence the recent reports of
>>>>>>> considerable
>>>>>>>     > bleaching. Until some reduced solar radiation and/or wind
>>>>>>> & mixing
>>>>>>>     > comes to the "rescue" we worry about prospects along much
>>>>>>> of the
>>>>>>>     > Windward Islands toward South America over the next month
>>>>>>> or so.
>>>>>>>     >
>>>>>>>     > Sorry our repot couldn't be more positive.
>>>>>>>     >
>>>>>>>     > Regards,
>>>>>>>     >
>>>>>>>     > Al Strong
>>>>>>>     > NOAA's Coral Reef Watch
>>>>>>>     > http://coralreefwatch.noaa.gov/satellite/index.html
>>>>>>>     >
>>>>>>> >------------------------------------------------------------------------ 
>>>>>>>     >
>>>>>>>     >_______________________________________________
>>>>>>>     >Coral-List mailing list
>>>>>>>     >Coral-List at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
>>>>>>>     >http://coral.aoml.noaa.gov/mailman/listinfo/coral-list
>>>>>>>     >
>>>>>>>     >
>>>>>>>     _______________________________________________
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>>> -- 
>>> __________________ FMK __________________
>>> Frank Muller-Karger
>>> Institute for Marine Remote Sensing/IMaRS
>>> College of Marine Science
>>> University of South Florida
>>> 140 7th Ave. South
>>> St Petersburg, FL 33701
>>> Phones:
>>>  (727) 553-3335 Office
>>>  (727) 553-1186 Lab.
>>>  (727) 553-1103 FAX
>>> e-mail/www:
>>> << carib at marine.usf.edu >>
>>> << http://imars.usf.edu>>
>>> _________________________________________

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