What is coral spawning?

This item was filled under Basics, Ecosystems, Facts, Ocean Life


Once a year, on cues from the lunar cycle and the water temperature, entire colonies of coral reefs simultaneously release their tiny eggs and sperm, called gametes, into the ocean. The phenomenon brings to mind an underwater blizzard with billions of colorful flakes cascading in white, yellow, red, and orange.

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Why do scientists measure sea surface temperature?

This item was filled under Basics, Economy, Facts, Ocean Observations, Ocean Science


Sea surface temperature provides fundamental information on the global climate system. Because the ocean covers 71 percent of Earth's surface, scientists record sea surface temperature (SST) to understand how the ocean communicates with Earth's atmosphere. SST provides fundamental information on the global climate system. SST is an essential parameter in weather prediction and atmospheric model simulations, and is also important for the study of marine ecosystems.

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High Tide Bulletin: Fall 2016

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The rising and falling of the sea is a phenomenon upon which we can always depend. Tides are the regular rise and fall of the sea surface caused by the gravitational pull of the moon and sun and their position relative to the earth. There are some factors we can predict that cause the tides to be higher or lower than what is "normally" seen from day to day. This bulletin tells you when you may experience higher than normal high tides for September, October and November 2016.

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Highest Water Levels During Hurricane Hermine

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NOAA's Center for Operational Oceanographic Products and Services maintains a permanent observing system that includes 210 continuously operating water level stations throughout the U.S. and its territories. These water level stations provide real-time oceanographic and meteorological observations, which are critical data for communities, particularly during storms impacting the coast.

This graphic depicts highest water levels along the coast throughout the duration of this storm. Highest water levels are measured in feet above Mean Higher High Water (MHHW). MHHW is defined as the average daily highest tide. Inundation typically begins when water levels exceed MHHW.

The values depicted on this graphic are based on preliminary observed water levels from NOAA and partner tide stations.

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Hawaiian Islands Sentinel Site Cooperative: where high tech and tradition mesh

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Hawaii stands alone in more ways than one. It is the only U.S. state comprised entirely of islands. There are eight major islands, but the Hawaiian Island Chain consists of more than 80 volcanoes and 132 islands, reefs, and shoals that extend across the Pacific for 1,500 miles (that's the approximate distance from Houston to San Francisco). Located about 2,400 miles from California, the islands are, in fact, the most isolated inhabited pieces of land in the world.

One would expect, then, that protecting Hawaii's natural and cultural resources poses a unique set of challenges. NOAA is working to address these challenges by considering how human activities on land are impacting near-shore systems through the lens of sea level rise and climate change, and fostering practical solutions through its Hawaiian Islands (HI) Sentinel Site Cooperative.

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NOAA Names Shepard Smith as Director of Coast Survey

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Following his selection by the Department of Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker and approval by President Barack Obama, Shepard Smith was promoted from captain to rear admiral (lower half) and named director of the NOAA Office of Coast Survey during a change of command ceremony on August 26. As the nation's chief hydrographer, Smith will oversee NOAA's charts and hydrographic surveys, ushering in the next generation of navigational products and services for mariners who need integrated delivery of coastal intelligence data.

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NOAA Engineers a More Reliable, Cost Efficient Current Sensor for Mariners

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Navigating into seaports is now safer and more efficient for mariners thanks to improved NOAA technology that ships rely on to give them information about currents. The Center for Operational Oceanographic Products and Services (CO-OPS) developed a more reliable, cost-saving version of a current sensor system that can now be placed at more remote locations along navigation channels.

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NOAA Collects Aerial Imagery in Aftermath of Severe Storms and Flooding in Louisiana

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On August 14, NOS's National Geodetic Survey (NGS) began collecting damage assessment imagery in the aftermath of the Aug. 2016 severe storms that caused significant flooding in Louisiana. Aerial imagery is being collected in specific areas identified by FEMA and the National Weather Service. View before and after images of affected areas.

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Filleting the Lion

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The lionfish, a native of the Western Pacific Ocean, is a venomous, voracious predator that’s flourishing in coastal waters of the U.S. Southeast and the Caribbean. This invasive species has the potential to harm reef ecosystems because it is a top predator that competes for food and space with overfished native stocks such as snapper and grouper. Scientists fear that lionfish will also kill off helpful species such as algae-eating parrotfish, allowing seaweed to overtake the reefs.

Fortunately for our coral reefs, the flashy lionfish has caught the attention of the hungriest predators of all: people! Once stripped of its venomous spines, cleaned, and filleted like any other fish, the lionfish becomes delectable seafood fare. NOAA scientists researching the lionfish’s spread and impact are now encouraging a seafood market as one way to mitigate the species’ impacts on reef communities.

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Least Terns Find a New Home

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Volunteers from NOAA, the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, South Carolina Audubon, and others transformed part of an old Navy dock into an unlikely nesting hotspot for the least tern. As of August 7, 2016, least terns have created seven nests (and hatched eleven chicks!) on the pier behind NOAA's Office for Coastal Management.

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