Congress has been in recess during the month of September and will return on November 12 after the mid-term elections for a lame duck session. Before adjourning, Congress passed a continuing resolution that funds the government through December 11.
The National Ocean Service (NOS) of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has laid out research priorities for the RESTORE Act Science Program in a new Draft Science Plan. The Draft Science Plan will be available for public comment until December 15, 2014. The NOAA RESTORE Act Science Program will host six virtual engagement sessions in November to provide an overview of the draft science plan, explain the public comment process for the plan, and answer questions.
NOS’s Digital Coast team has also developed a new online tool for water level visualization to assist scenario planning in the Great Lakes region. The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management and NOAA announced a collaborative project to fund approximately $17 million in marine biodiversity monitoring projects. The Department of the Navy announced plans for a December 2014 release of a Supplement to the Draft Environmental Impact Statement /Overseas Environmental Impact Statement (for the Northwest Training and Testing Study Area). The National Science Foundation recently published a report on its Survey of Federal Funds for Research and Development for Fiscal Years 2012-14, which includes data on ocean science spending from federal agencies.
This month, Obama nominated Dr. Dava Newman of MIT to be NASA’s Deputy Administrator, and designated Dr. Holly Bamford to serve as NOAA’s Acting Assistant Secretary for Conservation and Management.
Meanwhile, the White House released its Climate and Natural Resources Priority Agenda to address climate change resiliency. The strategy calls for: 1) fostering climate-resilient lands and waters, 2) managing and enhancing U.S. carbon sinks, 3) enhancing community preparedness and resilience by utilizing and sustaining natural resources, and 4) modernizing Federal programs, investments, and delivery of services to build resilience and enhance sequestration of biological carbon. NOAA Sea Grant will provide $15.9 million in funding for coastal resiliency projects.
Climate change was also a theme in recent Government Accountability Office (GAO) and the Department of Defense (DoD) publications. The DOD’s 2014 Climate Change Adaptation Roadmap presents goals for adaptation and mitigation, and calls for assessing climate change impacts across the Department’s activities. According to a new GAO report, “further action could be taken to advance the federal response to ocean acidification.” The report addressed potential ecological, social, and economic impacts of ocean acidification, and assessed federal action on the issue.
Climate change and ocean acidification was also broached in science briefings this month. A briefing hosted by the Association of Ecosystem Research Centers highlighted the role of ecosystem science in climate change adaptation and mitigation. Also this month, National Association of Marine Laboratories hosted a briefing highlighting the impacts of acidification on ocean and coastal ecosystems while emphasizing the importance of long-term monitoring. Additionally, an American Meteorological Society briefing covered topics including agricultural runoff, nutrient overloading, and harmful algal blooms in coastal ecosystems.