scientists have made significant progress in this area and, to ensure
further progress toward solving the acid rain problem, established
a formal NAPAP Research Office in the fall of 1985.
the 1980's, NOAA continued a variety of research activities designed
to improve our understanding of the marine and Great Lakes environments
in order to promote safety and economy in maritime activities and
develop a sound scientific basis for management decisions associated
with the development and utilization of ocean and Great Lakes waters
and their resources. Currently, these activities include:
marine ecosystem assessment research to provide improved
forecasts and assessments of natural oceanic and Great Lakes systems
and the impacts of human-induced stresses on those ecosystems;
marine resource assessment research which focuses
primarily on: developing an improved understanding of the physical,
geochemical and biological processes associated with sites of active
seafloor spreading; and developing a capability to predict more accurate
forecasts of marine fish stocks by studying the environmental factors
controlling recruitment; and
marine hazards and lake hydrology research to improve
forecasting skills, environmental information, and advisory services
associated with hazardous coastal winds and waves; storm surges, seiches,
and tsunamis; lake levels; and ice growth, movement and breakup.
advances were made in all three areas during the early eighties and
NOAA remains committed to strong programs in ocean, coastal and Great
Lakes assessment and prediction activities designed to ensure safe,
efficient and cost-effective use of those environments and promote
the development of marine resources and associated industry.
brought the National Sea Grant College Program to a significant stage
in its development. The designation of the South Carolina Sea Grant
College Program in 1986 brought to twenty-one the number of
academic programs to achieve that status nationwide. Since its inception
in 1966, Sea Grant has supported the establishment of premier programs
in marine science, education and
technology transfer in most of the coastal and Great Lakes states
as well as Guam and Puerto Rico. This network, and more than three
hundred individual institutions which have participated in the program
now constitute this Nation's primary, university-based marine resource
1980's was a special time for the National Undersea Research Program.
In July 1985, the HYDROLAB habitat facility in the U.S. Virgin Islands
was decommissioned and in May 1986, NOAA donated HYDROLAB to the Smithsonian
where it now serves as a permanent museum tribute to the scientists
who contributed to the research conducted in the Nation's oldest,
continuously operated underwater habitat.
have also brought significant opportunities for growth and progress
in oceanic science and services. In 1980, Congress enacted two pieces
of legislation which added new regulatory responsibilities to NOAA's
ocean programs. P.L. 96-283, the Deep Seabed Hard Mineral Resources
Act, gave NOAA responsibility for licensing exploration for and, eventually,
permitting commercial recovery of manganese nodules from the deep
seabed. In addition to the development of associated rules and regulations
and the actual processing of applications, NOAA is responsible for
Environmental Impact Statements associated with the issuance of such
licenses and permits and, with the State Department, the negotiation
of reciprocal agreements with other nations likely to conduct commercial
mining of manganese nodules from the seabed.
seventies was also a period of interest in alternative energy sources.
One of the alternatives is ocean thermal energy conversion (OTEC)
-- a process that uses the heat energy stored in the warm surface
waters of the world's oceans to produce electricity or other energy-intensive
products. P.L. 96-320, the Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion Act of
1980, gave NOAA lead responsibility for licensing the construction,
ownership, location and commercial operation of OTEC plants.
President Reagan proclaimed a 200-mile Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ)
around the U.S. in 1983, he increased the Nation's sovereign area
by 3.4 million square miles. The historic act also posed a major challenge
for NOAA -- mapping a "new territory", the seafloor of the EEZ which
encompasses an area greater than the land area of the U.S. and its
territories. NOAA and its predecessor organizations have provided
maritime products in support of the Nation's commerce since President
Jefferson created the Survey of the Coast in 1807. Over the years,
as technology has advanced, the agency has maintained a leadership
position in marine mapping, applying that technology to its programs.
NOAA, in cooperation with the U.S. Geological Survey of the Department
of Interior now is conducting surveys of selected high priority areas
of the EEZ, using new multibeam swath technology. Development of the
multibeam sonar system, advances in computer technology, applications
of heave-roll pitch sensors to account for ship motion, and improved
marine positioning accuracy all contribute to our improved ability
to map the seafloor.
is engaged in a program to produce 1:100,000 scale detailed bathymetric
maps (for example, 179 such maps would be required to cover the west
coast EEZ). Bathymetric maps are topographic maps of the seafloor
which are basic tools for scientific, engineering, and marine environmental
studies. Detailed bathymetry off our shores will form the basis for
private sector exploration and subsequent development of EEZ resources.
The compiled maps also will be contained on digital data tapes. It
should be noted, however, that the high resolution, bathymetric data
acquired by NOAA's multibeam swath survey systems is viewed by the
Department of Defense (DOD) as a potential threat to national security.
The issue has not been fully resolved, at the time of this writing,
between NOAA, DOD and the National Security Council, so only limited
release of the information is being made.