Archive for May, 2016

What is the highest point on Earth as measured from Earth’s center?

This item was filled under Facts, Places, Positioning and Geology, Technology


Mount Everest, located in Nepal and Tibet, is usually said to be the highest mountain on Earth. Reaching 29,029 feet at its summit, Everest is indeed the highest point above global mean sea level—the average level for the ocean surface from which elevations are measured. But the summit of Mt. Everest is not the farthest point from Earth’s center.

Earth is not a perfect sphere, but is a bit thicker at the Equator due to the centrifugal force created by the planet’s constant rotation. Because of this, the highest point above Earth’s center is the peak of Ecuador’s Mount Chimborazo, located just one degree south of the Equator where Earth’s bulge is greatest. The summit of Chimborazo is 20,564 feet above sea level. However, due to the Earth’s bulge, the summit of Chimborazo is over 6,560 feet farther from the center of the Earth than Everest’s peak. That makes Chimborazo the closest point on Earth to the stars.

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Coastal Management Fellowship: landmark NOAA training program marks 20 year milestone

This item was filled under News


In 1996, the people at NOAA had a bright idea—to seek out gifted postgraduates and match them up with coastal zone management programs for two years of on-the-job training in management and policy careers. Twenty years later, that bright idea casts an impressive light—106 coastal management fellows from 42 universities have boosted the reach and effectiveness of coastal stewardship in 26 states and territories.

"The fellowship is a great deal for fellows, coastal programs, and taxpayers," says Jeffrey L. Payne, acting director of the NOAA Office for Coastal Management, which administers the program. "Fellows get first-rate training and networking opportunities. Programs get the best and brightest for critical projects. And when graduating fellows decide to stay in the field—and many do—the taxpayer gets seasoned public servants who can hit the ground running."

The influence of the fellowship doesn't end when the stint ends, say several former fellows, who describe in this feature what was special about their time in the program and how it marked the course of their careers.

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High Tech Tool to Aid in Pacific Northwest Toxin Detection

This item was filled under News


NOAA and partners are expanding the use of an underwater robot using a NOAA-developed sensor that enables remote, automated measurements of toxins produced by harmful algal blooms (HABs), known to contaminate shellfish and poison humans that consume them. Already used in monitoring the dinoflagellate Alexandrium, the algae that causes toxic red tides in the Gulf of Maine, the robot will now be deployed in the Pacific Northwest to detect and identify the HAB species Pseudo-nitzschia australis.

The robot, called the Environmental Sample Processor (ESP), was deployed by the University of Washington on May 23, and will provide data on both Pseudo-nitzschia cell and toxin concentrations off the coast of Washington. By including the sensor on the robot during deployment, scientists are better able to assess the toxicity level of a given algal bloom.

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NOAA Historical Hurricane Tracks

This item was filled under News


NOAA's Historical Hurricane Tracks is a free online tool that allows users to track historic hurricane tracks. The site, developed by the NOAA Office for Coastal Management in partnership with NOAA's National Hurricane Center and National Centers for Environmental Information, offers data and information on coastal county hurricane strikes through 2012. It also provides links to detailed reports on the life histories and effects of U.S. tropical cyclones since 1958, with additional U.S. storm paths traced as far back as 1851. The site contains global hurricane data from as far back as 1842.

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What is a living shoreline?

This item was filled under Ecosystems, Facts, Ocean Science, Places


Living shorelines are a green infrastructure technique using native vegetation alone or in combination with offshore sills to stabilize the shoreline. Living shorelines provide a natural alternative to ‘hard’ shoreline stabilization methods like stone sills or bulkheads, and provide numerous benefits including nutrient pollution remediation, essential fish habitat provision, and buffering of shoreline from waves and storms. Living shorelines are known to store carbon (known as carbon sequestration), which keeps carbon out of the atmosphere. Continued use of this approach to coastal resilience will result in increased carbon sequestration and storage, potentially mitigating the effects of climate change.

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What is an oil spill trajectory?



During the threat of an oil spill, responders need to know where that spilled oil will go in order to protect shorelines with containment boom, stage cleanup equipment, or close areas for fishing and boating. In order to answer these questions, NOAA oceanographers use specialized computer models to predict the movement of spilled oil on the water surface. They predict where the oil is most likely to go and how soon it may arrive there. During a major spill response, trajectory maps are created to show predictions for the path of spilled oil.

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