The Interagency Working Group on Ocean Partnerships (IWG-OP) discussed potential partnership activities related to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The IWG-OP will further pursue ways to be involved in facilitating research on the effects of the spill on the environment. The IWG-OP elected a new co-chair in January 2011, Dr. Walter Johnson of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation, and Enforcement (BOEMRE), as Dr. James Kendall, also of BOEMRE, was appointed Acting Director of the Alaska Outer Continental Shelf Region. Mr. Craig McLean, of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, continues as the other IWG-OP co-chair. The IWG-OP will also continue to interface with the newly established National Ocean Council in 2011.
Through the IWG-OP, NOPP hosted the Biodiversity Ad Hoc Group which met quarterly. The group identified the need for a workshop on Attaining Operational Marine Biodiversity Observations to determine the status of current biodiversity observation capabilities and scope future solutions which may provide for the development of biodiversity proxies or indices, with subsequent global application. Thirty-five marine experts attended the workshop on 24-27 May 2010 and the seven steering committee members developed recommendations and a synthesis report. The recommendations were discussed at the North Pacific Marine Science Organization conference in October 2010 and the National Council for Science and the Environment conference in January 2011. The final report will be available in February 2011.
The IWG-OP formed a second ad hoc working group in 2010 to address renewable ocean energy issues within the federal community. The group met three times in 2010 to share information and coordinate activities. Participants are currently pursuing opportunities for interagency research and development funding.
In 2010, the Interagency Working Group on Facilities and Infrastructure (IWG-FI) formed the Task Force on Unmanned Systems (TFUS). The TFUS is hosted by NOPP and met bi-monthly. The Task Force conducted an inventory of unmanned systems assets and discussed challenges and opportunities to full utilizations of unmanned systems.
NOPP received a total of 76 proposals submitted in response to the FY 2010 Broad Agency Announcements in the areas of: 1) Improving Attachments of Electronic Data Loggers to Cetaceans; 2) Developing Environmental Protocols and Monitoring to Support Ocean Renewable Energy and Stewardship; and 3)Exploration and Research of Mid-Atlantic Deepwater Hard Bottom Habitats and Shipwrecks with Emphasis on Canyons and Coral Communities. Five federal agencies partnered to support these solicitations (NOAA, BOEMRE, Department of Energy, Office of Naval Research, National Science Foundation, U.S. Geological Survey), with up to $21.7 million in awards available. The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and ExxonMobil also supported the solicitations. The NOPP Office coordinated the proposal review process and 13 projects were funded. Also in 2010, NOPP sought proposals for FY 2011 funding on two topics: U.S. Integrated Ocean Observing System and Marine Mammal Detection and Monitoring. Sixty-three proposals were received and they are currently in the process of undergoing peer review.
NOPP hosted a town hall on Collaborative Oceanographic Research of the Future at the Ocean Sciences 2010 conference in Portland, Oregon. Two NOPP-funded projects that exemplified partnerships were highlighted and participants were asked for suggestions on topics for future collaborative research.
NOPP presented the 2010 Excellence in Partnering award to the project entitled, Toward a Predictive Model of Arctic Coastal Retreat in a Warming Climate. The award was presented by Mr. Paul G. Gaffney II of the Ocean Research Advisory Panel to Dr. Cameron Wobus of Stratus Consulting, one of the researchers of the project. The research team includes six partner researchers from the University of Colorado Institute for Arctic and Alpine Research, Stratus Consulting, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and the Naval Postgraduate School. These entities worked to integrate long-term morphological studies of the Arctic coast initiated by the USGS partners with detailed studies of the unique properties of ice-laden sediments exposed to nearshore wave processes.