$4.26M to Support Pacific Islands Coastal, Ocean Observing


$4.26M to Support Pacific Islands Coastal, Ocean Observing

PacIOOS received $4.26 million in federal funding to support its ongoing efforts to sustain and enhance coastal and ocean observing in the U.S. Pacific Islands region. PacIOOS helps to increase ocean safety, protect public and environmental health, and support the economy. This funding cycle marks the 5th year of a 5-year cooperative agreement with the U.S. Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS®).

PacIOOS information is used, amongst others, by the National Weather Service for ocean forecasts, by harbor pilots for safe marine navigation, by coastal managers for inundation forecasts, and by recreational users for surfing, fishing, boating and other activities. Accurate and reliable data of waves, currents, water quality, wave run-up, and more can be accessed for free on the PacIOOS website via a variety of visualization tools that allow for easy access.

Based within the School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST) at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, PacIOOS currently owns and operates over 35 observing platforms throughout the Pacific Islands region, including the State of Hawaiʻi, the U.S. territories, and U.S. Freely Associated States. PacIOOS also maintains modeling data that inform coastal, ocean, and atmospheric forecasts.

“PacIOOS observations from buoys, sensors, stations, and animal tags provide information about the most recent coastal and ocean conditions, and the data help to improve short- and long-term forecasts. We are establishing time series that can record changes in the ocean environment and detect trends over time. Pacific Island communities are vulnerable to sea level rise and extreme weather events—our data empower decision-makers and coastal communities to make safe and informed decisions,” says Melissa Iwamoto, Director of PacIOOS. “As PacIOOS embarks upon our 13th year in operation, we are grateful for the continued funding support and trust in our system.”

Expansion of Observing Assets

This year, PacIOOS also received funding from the U.S. State Department and is partnering with federal and local agencies to expand its network of real-time wave buoys in the insular Pacific. Large areas in the Freely Associated States currently lack real-time data, posing a safety concern both on land and in the ocean. Three new wave buoy sites are planned, and additional buoys will be available to maximize operational uptime. Capacity building and training are also in development to expand technical expertise among local partners and authorities.

Additional funding from NOAA will help replace PacIOOS’ aging instrumentation and infrastructure in Hawaiʻi and increase observations in the insular Pacific. Plans are underway to provide real-time sea surface currents information between the islands of Guam and Rota (part of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands), an area known for its challenging ocean conditions. Real-time and modeled data of currents are extremely important for search and rescue operations and to inform the safety of ocean users.

Contributing to National Network

PacIOOS is one of eleven regional associations of the U.S. Integrated Ocean Observing System. Over $39 million was awarded this year across the U.S. IOOS. Regional associations coordinate local coastal and ocean observing and decision-support projects to address community needs that integrate into the national system.

Looking Forward

PacIOOS is currently developing a new 5-year proposal (2021-2026) and a 10-Year Outlook. If you are interested to provide suggestions and input, please contact us at info@pacioos.org.

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Did you know?

PacIOOS is the first regional association that was certified as a Regional Information Coordination Entity (RICE) by the U.S. Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS). Certification provides NOAA and its interagency partners a means to verify that a regional association’s organizational and operational practices, including data management, meet recognized and established standards set by NOAA.