Chapter News
April 2002


AMS Chapter Meeting, February 5, 2002

Call Meeting to Order: The meeting was called to order by James Peronto, Chapter President, at approximately 11 a.m. The meeting was held at the Anchorage branch of the NWS, Sand Lake Rd.

Introductions: Peronto asked each person in attendance to introduce themselves, and then introduced the guest speaker John Gamash, from Channel 11 in Anchorage.

Guest Speaker: John Gamash, meteorologist for Channel 11 was the speaker for the evening. Gamash was asked to speak due to the fact that he recently did a tour as a forecaster for McMurdo station, Antarctica. His duties included forecasting for all field camps and briefing weather flights around Antarctica and to and from New Zealand. Gamash has been in the "weather business" for 24 years, originally with the Air Force, later transferring to the civilian side. He was selected to forecast for McMurdo Sound, due to his experience and skill forecasting in Alaska, where conditions can be similar to those in Antarctica.

Gamash's talk centered around the difficulties in forecasting the weather in Antarctica. Due to the fact that it is at the southernmost point in the world, compasses are almost unusable. Instead, a different sort of mapping and navigation system is used. The flat map of Antarctica is divided into a grid, and the sectors are labeled North, South, East and West. All winds are annotated in grid coordinates.

Antarctica also has a number of interesting weather situations. Even in the summer, strong low pressure systems can bring severe snowstorms to the region. Visibilities can be negligible, and winds are hurricane strength. Due to the severe weather, observation systems often move, and every new research season (1 Oct - 15 Feb), the Automatic Observing Stations are dug out of the snow banks and placed in the correct spot. However, some areas hardly see any precipitation at all, due to strong katabatic winds. It is estimated in these "dry valleys" that no liquid precipitation has been seen for over one million years.

Data is also a potential problem for the Antarctic region. Fortunately, NCAR provides a 10km and a 120km model runs over the Antarctic region. FNMOC products are also available, and MARWIN rawinsondes provide upper air data. ASOS's are also placed all over the region.

Gamash finished his talk by telling personal anecdotes and describing wildlife and living conditions in Antarctica. He was presented with an Alaska Weather Calendar and an honorary membership.

Next Meeting: The next meeting will be in March, possibly March 13. It will be at the Aviation Technology Center. Dr. Peter Olssen from the Alaska Experimental Forecast Facility will be speaking on the RAMS mesoscale model.

Adjournment: The meeting was adjourned by Peronto at approximately 12:30 pm.---Louise Williams.


The Asheville Chapter of the American Meteorological Society held its fourth meeting for 2001-2002 in Rm 238, Robinson Hall, University of North Carolina at Asheville (UNCA) on Thursday, February 21st, 2002. The president of the Chapter, Mr. John W. Louer, presided at the meeting.

The chapter vice-president, Capt Karl Pfeiffer, announced Ms Sue Tarbell as the winner of the "Asheville, NC First Snow" forecast contest and presented her with an outdoor thermometer as a prize. The first criterion of the contest was the date of the first snow, the second was the depth of snow, and the third was the lowest temperature. Only the date criterion was necessary. Mr Tom Ross measured 2/10" on January 3rd, 2002. Ms Tarbell predicted 2" for January 4th, 2002.

Our guest speaker for the night was introduced by Capt Karl Pfeiffer. Capt Paul Roelle received his B.S. in Meteorology from Pennsylvania State University in 1991, his M.S. in Atmospheric Science from North Carolina State University in 1996, and his Ph.D. from North Carolina State University in December of 2001. His presentation was titled "Oxidized and Reduced Biogenic Nitrogen Compound Emissions into the Rural Troposphere: Characterization and Modeling," which was a summary of a part of his dissertation for his Ph.D. After his presentation, Capt Pfeiffer presented Capt Roelle with a clock on behalf of the chapter.

The next Chapter meeting is planned for Thursday, April 18th, 2002. Our guest speaker will be our chapter vice-president, Maj Karl Pfeiffer, who will speak on The Storm of the Century.

Abstract of Guest Speaker

Oxidized and Reduced Biogenic Nitrogen Compound Emissions into the
Rural Troposphere: Characterization and Modeling.

Nitrogen compound emissions are known to have profound effects on air quality. Consequences associated with increased emissions of oxidized and reduced nitrogen species are known to be increased tropospheric ozone production, fine particulate aerosol production, nitrate contamination of drinking water, eutrophication and acidification of soil and water bodies. It is well recognized that soil emissions can contribute a substantial percent of the total inventory for both the oxidized and reduced species, but great uncertainty still exists in this inventory. Using a dynamic flow-through chamber technique in conjunction with a state-of-the-art mobile laboratory, this research attempts to characterize and model these oxidized and reduced biogenic nitrogen compound emissions into the rural troposphere.

North Carolina has relatively recently witnessed the increased use of both municipal waste biosolids and the land application of swine waste effluent; two processes which both contribute nitrogen to the ecosystem. The first of these processes involves the land application of municipal waste biosolids as a cost effective way to dispose of these nutrient rich byproducts of the wastewater treatment process. During the last three decades extensive research has been conducted on nitric oxide emissions from agricultural soils and consequently an extensive database has been developed which is used to relate these emissions to various environmental parameters. Biosolid amended soils, however remain a land-use type which are comparatively much less studied. Therefore, models used to estimate nitric oxide inventories often treat the biosolid amended soils the same as agricultural soils amended with commercially derived fertilizers.

A controlled experiment involving the application of municipal waste biosolids to agricultural soils was shown to enhance NO emissions. A more detailed analysis throughout several seasons found the nitric oxide emissions from biosolid amended soils to have a strong temperature dependence and that their source strength is much larger relative to soils amended with chemically derived fertilizers. Modeling of this source strength using the MultiScale Air Quality Simulation Platform (MAQSIP) indicated that when the biosolids are assumed to be spread evenly throughout the counties, no changes in the model output are evident during daylight hours, however it is possible to discern slight decreases of ozone during the evening. When the same biosolids are concentrated in one area of the county, as opposed to being evenly distributed, the changes are more pronounced with decreases in ozone concentration reaching as high as approximately 12% and slight increases appearing (approximately 2%) during the afternoon hours.

The second process which is contributing nitrogen to the ecosystem is the land application of swine effluent to agricultural soils. This ammonia-rich effluent has gained wide spread attention in North Carolina, due to the explosive growth of the swine industry during the past decade. This study revealed that while the average source strength of ammonia from soils is significantly smaller than that of the lagoons, the much larger surface area of the soils causes them to also be an important emissions source. Additionally, it was observed that for time periods immediately following slurry application, the NH3 flux increased significantly and remained elevated for at least four days after application. Temperature explained over 70% of the variability in NH3 emissions prior to being amended with the lagoon effluent and approximately 40% of the NH3 emissions for time periods after being amended with the lagoon effluent. A fundamental mechanistic mass transfer model is presented and discussed in terms of its applicability for estimating NH3 flux and was found to be an effective predictor of the NH3 emissions for time periods immediately following slurry application.---Jeffrey Budai.


The second meeting of the year for the Central Illinois Chapter was held 7 March 2002 at Marcia's Waterfront Restaurant in Decatur, Illinois. The evening's speaker was delayed due to air travel difficulties. Dinner was begun slightly late, followed by a brief business meeting. The secretary and treasurer's reports were read, and then Vice President Ed Kieser talked briefly on some chapter news. President Ed Holicky had to leave promptly due to a family emergency, so other announcements were pushed back to the next meeting. Finally, the evening's program commenced. Roger Edwards of the Storm Prediction Center presented "Forecasting and Observing the May 3, 1999 Central Oklahoma Tornadoes." This day was among the most prolific severe weather days ever. The current count is sixty tornadoes, with nearly fifty fatalities and billions in damage. This event was poorly forecasted by the numerical models; and even the morning of the event forecasters at the Storm Prediction Center did not realize the threat. The "saving grace" for the day’s forecast was that the upper air environment was sampled well enough for forecasters to realize conditions were setting up for a major event. Combining the tremendous shear in phase with the high instabilities, and the atmosphere was primed for an epic severe weather event. Storm initiation time and place remained uncertain until mid-afternoon. It is thought that a break in a cloud field, in conjunction with a horizontal roll triggered storm initiation. An area of confluence and the predominance of warm, moist downdrafts are among the factors under study as contributing to the severity of the tornado outbreak.---Scott Kampas.


The speaker for the chapter meeting of February 21, 2002, was Bob Gotwals of the SHODOR Educational Foundation. Bob also serves as the Education Chair for the chapter, coordinating science fair judging and the awarding of the chapter's academic achievement awards. Bob gave the chapter an overview of The SHODOR Foundation's projects and goals.

The SHODOR Foundation is a non-profit, nationally recognized educational foundation whose goal is to improve science and math education through the authentic and appropriate use of technology such as computer models and visualization.

SHODOR attempts to take educational money and reach as many students as possible from 2nd grade through the Ph.D. level. They focus on three goals, the development of faculty, curriculum development, and student education.

One example of a past project is the 1996 EPA/ATI Technology Transfer Program, where an online course for atmospheric science and air quality modeling was created. Two separate web-based courses were developed along with a stand-alone case study. By 1999, the program had expanded to six courses and the webpages became more sophisticated with the added ability to run Java applets.

Current projects include the NSF-funded National Computational Science Leadership Program working with 250 high school teachers globally. The program is funded for 18 months and involves supercomputing conferences using numerical weather prediction tools and air quality modeling to teach the teachers about computational science.

In December 2001, SHODOR received a $2.7 million grant to establish the National Computational Science Institute. This program will focus on bringing computational science to undergraduate education in schools of science and math and also in schools of education where future teachers will be trained. More information on this project is available online at Brennan.


Approximately 35 individuals participated in the February Chapter Meeting held at the Earth Satellite Corporation (EarthSat) office in Rockville, MD on February 19. Chapter member Susan Ducey graciously volunteered to provide the delicious buffet meal we enjoyed. Vice-Chairperson Ken Carey opened the meeting with an overview of plans for upcoming meetings such as the March 20th Career Focus for parents and students.

Bob Winokur, President of EarthSat presented an overview of the company describing the international consulting and professional services that are provided. The corporation focuses on products and services in four primary sectors: Weather, Environmental data processing for geographic information systems, Geology and Hydrology, and Image Processing.

A tour of the facility was provided, and the highlight of the evening was the opportunity to see the magnificent mosaics of image maps displayed along the corporation's walls.

Regional Mosaic of land cover for Africa

Processing of Landsat imagery into digital mosaics depicting land cover categories is one of the projects for which EarthSat staff are at work 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. In addition to products, the company also provides assistance with disaster and humanitarian relief efforts such as the Rift Valley Fever Outbreak. National Hazard Risk Modeling for flooding, Volcano, Tsunami, and Earthquake risk is another EarthSat effort.

Larry Heitkemper, EarthSat Vice President, presented a talk on Weather Derivatives: What the Industry Means to Meteorologists. He described some of the important weather data issues such as data coverage, quality of the historical data, reliability of the data, and the need for free or inexpensive provision of data. Instrumentation issues such as the need for calibration, good metadata and security were also discussed. EarthSat presently serves the energy, financial and insurance industries by providing historical data and quality control, analysis of data, and the enhancement of data.---Lauraleen O'Connor.


Once again, the North Florida Weather Association took their meeting to the edge. (Okay, maybe behind the yellow line near the edge.) With a war being fought half a world away, we were able to get an up-close appreciation for the training some of our military weather observers and forecasters endure.

On December 15, 1992 the 159th Weather Readiness Training Center and Weather Flight were added to the Florida Air National Guard. Located at Camp Blanding, the school billets and trains Air National Guard members as well as active duty airmen in their career field of weather predictions. More than ten chose to accept the mission to attend our meeting at Camp Blanding. We were given a tour of the classroom and lab facilities, as well as the opportunity to speak to students at all levels of their training. We were also taken into the field, where we met a group of advanced students who had just come back to "the bunker" after a three day field deployment. For more information on the WTRC at Camp Blanding, please visit their website:

We also were able to take care of some of our own chapter business. The membership has decided to pursue starting a student chapter to be our affiliate. We were filled in on the intense AMS Conference from our own Pat Welsh. Future meetings include (April) a tour of the City of Jacksonville's Emergency Operations Center, (June) an update from the National Lightning Safety Center, (August-September) an update on our local drought situation as well as the threats from storm surges and flash floods.

Our number one goal remains to keep going. Membership drives are being planned, and we are very excited to open our doors to all weather enthusiasts.--- Betsy Kling.

**Pictures courtesy of 125th Fighter Wing, Florida Air National Guard**



Hello AMS Chapter Members,

Welcome to Springtime weather in north Texas! If you're like me, you are welcoming the wonderful sound of thunder, and those spring rains which we so badly need. I just wish we wouldn't get a whole months worth of rainfall in two days. But that's Texas, right?

Our next AMS chapter meeting will be held this coming Tuesday, March 26, 2002 at 7:00 PM. After two months of meeting on the road on field trips, we will return to our normal meeting location at the National Weather Service WFO/RFC complex in north Fort Worth. Our guest speaker for the evening will be Jeff Evans of the Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma. If Jeff's name sounds familiar, you likely see it on the severe weather outlooks or weather watch boxes from SPC. In fact, Jeff issued the tornado watch this afternoon for the area just south of the DFW metroplex. The title of Jeff's presentation will be: "Forecasting derechos in the Southern Plains: Lessons from the May 27th, 2001 Oklahoma/North Texas derecho." Jeff is originally from southwest Oklahoma (Lawton). He attended Oklahoma University and graduated with a B.S. in May 1991.& I hope all of you will be able to join us for Jeff's talk this coming Tuesday evening.

Our last meeting in February was terrific. It was held at Haag Engineering with Tim Marshall as our gracious host. Those in attendance now know how to recognize which roofs were damaged by hail and which were damaged by a hammer, don't we? Thanks again to Tim for hosting a great time.

In closing this newsletter, I am going to ask for your help. Every month, upon sending this newsletter electronically, there always are a few emails which return to me saying the email addresses are no longer valid or have an unknown host. So I am listing a few of these email addresses below, and I would appreciate it if you would let me know if you recognize one or more of them. If you do, would you reply to me and give me the first and last name of the person the email belongs to? Or, if there is a new email address for the person, would you email it to me with the person's name? I do not want to exclude anyone who may be interested in our AMS chapter or its activities. Thanks in advance for your help!

I'm looking forward to seeing all of you the 26th!---Greg Story.


February 2001 Meeting Minutes

The Omaha-Offutt chapter of the AMS held a meeting on the 28th day of February at Farmer Browns located in Papillion, Nebraska. 31 members and guests were present. Farmer Browns offered four menu choices, which included: prime rib, country fried steak, country fried chicken, and catfish. Vice-president Dr. Ken Dewey called the business meeting to order at 7:30p.m.

Old Business
Jeremy Wesely read the January minutes, which indicated the need for judges at local science fairs. Phillip Johnson then thanked all those that signed up to be judges and informed the chapter that all remaining slots have now been filled. Cathy Zapotocny informed the members of the chapter's financial well being and indicated the gain of eight new members. The Omaha-Offutt AMS chapter now claims 50 members, which is up from last year.

New Business
Dr. Dewey announced that the next meeting of the Omaha-Offutt chapter will be held on Friday March 29th in Lincoln Nebraska at 7:00p.m. The meeting will be a joint meeting between the Omaha-Offutt chapter and the University of Nebraska Student chapter, which will also kick off the Central Plains Severe Weather Symposium "Observing and Forecasting Severe Weather on the Plains." The symposium will be held on Saturday March 30, 2002 at the University of Nebraska's East Campus. Storm chaser Jeff Piotrowski, David Stillings, also known as "The Lightning Stalker", and professional weather photographer Jim Reed are several of the keynote speakers. In addition, Mark Conner will speak on the launching of weather balloons and provide a live launch demonstration. All of the conference speakers will be introduced Friday night at the joint meeting where they will give a preview of their talks. David Stilling will be the keynote speaker Friday night. Dr. Dewey also expressed his desire to have a new Omaha-Offutt chapter poster made that could be displayed at the conference.

Dr. Dewey asked members if they had any recent significant weather stories to share. Dr. Dewey commented on an experience he had while on a flight across the North Atlantic Ocean. The flight was at the perfect time of day and year, which allowed him to watch the sun rise and set several times throughout the duration of the trip.

Guest Speaker Chris Bowman of the University of Nebraska in Lincoln presented on his class research project entitled, "Estimating the potential impact of a F-5 tornado hitting a densely populated community." Mr. Bowman is finishing up his undergraduate degree in meteorology and is currently working with the Lancaster county emergency management personnel. He has developed equations that calculate the potential tornadic damage to life and property as a result of F-5 and F-2 tornadoes. The Lancaster county emergency management office has expressed great interest in Chris's work, which has aided them in preparing for potential tornadoes.---Jeremy Wesely.


February Meeting of the Packerland Chapter
American Meteorological Society
February 20, 2002

"Neither rain, nor sleet nor rain." no that is the United States Postal Service. How about a winter storm warning for snow and blowing snow? Unfortunately that did keep many of our members from attending and outstanding program called "ClimProb: Software for Generating Probability of Climatic Events" by Dr. Steve Meyer, University of Wisconsin, Green Bay.

Attendance was low, less than ten. But the weather did not keep the Packerland Chapter of the American Meteorological Society from canceling its February meeting. Dr. Meyer is new to Green Bay coming from the University of Nebraska. However he is not new to the Midwest having completed his undergraduate work at Northern Illinois University. He brought with him the software to compare temperatures, heating degree-days, growing season, and liquid equivalent precipitation. Right now it is in a DOS form on a CD. But Dr. Meyer assures us that it will be in a Windows format by the end of this summer.

ClimProb has over 900 station's data from around the United States. In Wisconsin it includes nearly 100 cities. The data goes back over 100 years. When the Windows format comes out, it will be offered free to educators to use in the classroom. Consulting firms will have to pay a nominal fee, around $50 for it. Since this past winter has been rather mild, we asked Dr. Meyer to see how this compares with other years.

As of February 20 there had been only two nights, three calendar days of below zero weather. Dr. Meyer showed us with ClimProb that this would be a record with so few days below zero. He then demonstrated the precipitation data. In seconds we found out that the wettest year on record had 38.36" of precipitation with 16.31" being the driest. The median is 28.33" and the mean is 28.1". He was quick to point out that this is for all the data and does not reflect the 30-year normal.

After we were shown examples of the 31 variables that the ClimProb menu can generate, Dr. Meyer answered the obvious question. What are the applications? Dr. Meyer broke this down into four categories. He said that this program answers many of the questions that county extension agents ask of meteorologists or climatologists. The second area of use would be in research. He gave examples of entomologists using it. Farmers and botanists use it for seeding information. And, climatologists can use it for research. A third area of use is in service to the community. The state climatologist office can use it to speed up the questions that people ask. The local National Weather Service office can use it for the same purpose. News organizations can use it. Dr. Meyer pointed out that it would not be a good idea to use it in forensic work, as it is not certified data. Finally, ClimProb can be used in education. K - 12 teachers can use it. Besides the obvious uses, the teacher can use it in math, geography, history, and reading. College professors can use it in applied climatology. It can be used to discuss global climate and its changes.

As we broke up that evening, Dr. James Brey, our president summed up the evening quite well, "He's (Dr. Meyer is) someone who can make DOS software interesting!"

Normally, Scott Patrick, our secretary, would make this report. But a few days before the meeting, he and his wife became parents for the first time. Congratulations go out to them.---Tom Mahoney.


March 19, 2002

The minutes and treasurer's report were given. There were a few changes to the calendar. Those are: TAMSSDDA is having a severe storm conference before Karl gives his severe storm seminar; the next TAMSCAMS meeting is set for April 9; Adopt-A-Highway will be April 13; Adopt-A-Beach will be April 27; and the career fair is set for April 30. Mike talked about the weather camp this summer. Brent called for nnominations for the Reynold's Award. Kevin explained the new election process and nominations were taken for the four officer positions of president, vice predsident, secretary, and treasurer. Jimmy Don Ward, Science Operations Officer from the New Braunfels NWS office, gave a presentation on severe weather. The meeting was adjourned to pizza!---Mandy Kellner.


Dr. Mark Luther graciously hosted the March, 2002, West Central Florida chapter meeting at the St. Petersburg campus of the University of South Florida. For many years, very little surface data was available over the Gulf of Mexico to the west of the Tampa Bay area. In recent years, more emphasis has been placed in obtaining critical data in this area in which coastal storms can rapidly intensify. Several local, state and federal agencies have cooperated to bring about this unique data system. The following publication was presented by Dr. Luther at the meeting.

Coastal Ocean Monitoring and Prediction System (COMPS) Florida is the United States' fourth most populous state, with 80% of the population living in a coastal county. Several recent storms have brought large, unpredicted flooding to Florida's west coast. The coastal sea level response to tropical and extra-tropical storms results from wind forcing over the entire continental shelf. Much of the local response may actually be due to storm winds quite distant from the local area of concern; a case in point being tropical storm Josephine, a modest storm that nevertheless caused extensive flooding in the Tampa Bay area. The University of South Florida has implemented a real-time Coastal Ocean Monitoring and Prediction System (COMPS) for West Florida. COMPS provides additional data needed for a variety of management issues, including more accurate predictions of coastal flooding by storm surge, safety and efficiency of marine navigation, search and rescue efforts, and fisheries management, as well as supporting basic research programs.

Real-time Measurements

COMPS consists of an array of instrumentation both along the coast and offshore, combined with numerical circulation models, and builds upon existing in-situ measurements and modeling programs funded by various state and federal agencies. In addition, COMPS links to the USF Remote Sensing Laboratory, which collects real-time satellite imagery via its HRPT and X-Band receivers. This observing system fulfills all of the requirements of the Coastal Module of the Global Ocean Observing System (CMGOOS). Data and model products are disseminated in real-time to federal, state, and local emergency management officials via the internet (URL COMPS is designed to support a variety of operational and research efforts, including storm surge prediction, environmental protection, coastal erosion and sediment transport, red tide research (ECOHAB - Ecology of Harmful Algal Blooms), and hyperspectral satellite remote sensing of coastal ocean dynamics (HYCODE). A precedent for this system already exists in the form of the Tampa Bay PORTS - itself a first for monitoring estuaries.

USF Buoys

The majority of the COMPS stations are already operational, with additional stations planned for the near future. An array of offshore buoys measure current, temperature, salinity, and meteorological parameters, with satellite telemetry of the data to the shore. Additional buoys have been deployed off Sarasota as part of the ECOHAB and HYCODE efforts. More information about the USF shelf moorings is available. Buoy observations are augmented by a network of coastal towers that are instrumented with water level, temperature, salinity, meteorological, and bio-optical sensors.

Members dwarfed by weather buoys.

USF-Partner Stations

The United States Coast Guard has constructed a tower southwest of Cape Sable that is instrumented with water level, temperature, salinity, meteorological and bio-optical sensors. Other coastal observing sites, measuring water level and winds, have been deployed at Homossassa and Shell Point. The Homossassa station is located at the mouth of the Homossassa River, is operated in collaboration with the Citrus County Office Emergency Management, and the Pasco County Office of Disaster Preparedness. Additional instrumentation will be installed at Tarpon Springs, Boca Grande, Cedar Key, Keaton Beach, and near the mouth of the St. Marks River, enhancing existing stations operated by partner agencies. USF's observing sites will augment a number of existing satellite-telemetered sites operated by federal and state agencies. There are three NOAA National Data Buoy Center (NDBC) buoys located off the West Florida Shelf that are linked to the COMPS web site. NDBC has established C-MAN meteorological observing systems at Cedar Key, Keaton Beach, and Cape San Blas. USF will add water level, temperature, and conductivity sensors at the Cedar Key and Keaton Beach sites. The NOAA National Ocean Service maintains water level and meteorological instruments at Key West, Naples, Ft. Meyers, Clearwater, Panama City, and Pensacola. The United States Geological Survey (USGS) Tampa office has established a water level gauge in Charlotte Harbor at Port Boca Grande. USF will add temperature, conductivity and meteorological sensors to this site. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection Bureau of Survey and Mapping has established water level, temperature, conductivity, and meteorological stations at Redfish Pass (Captiva Island) and Big Carlos Pass (Fort Myers Beach). The Florida Institute of Oceanography operates the SeaKeys network of observing sites in the Florida Keys in collaboration with NDBC. Informal agreements with these partnering agencies ensure that their data streams will be incorporated into the main COMPS data stream.

Modeling and Prediction Capabilities

A numerical circulation model, based on the Princeton Ocean Model, has been developed for the entire West Florida Shelf, with an offshore boundary stretching from the Mississippi Delta to the Florida Keys. This model has been successful in simulating past storm surge events and will be coupled to the COMPS real-time data stream to be run in a nowcast/forecast mode. Sea surface temperature and ocean color data from the West Florida shelf routinely collected by our Remote Sensing Laboratory can be combined with in-situ data and model output to provide a comprehensive analysis of oceanic conditions.

Geological Component of COMPS

The coastal data-monitoring program presents an important opportunity for studying the response of our coastal and shelf systems to storm activity. Key elements of the geological component are to characterize the coastal and seafloor environments, and their changes related to storm events. The West Florida Shelf and coastal systems contain geologically diverse environments, having economic importance for marine resources and coastal land use. It is important to know how, under what conditions, and on what time scales are sediments transported and the coastal morphology altered as a result of erosion and land loss.

The nearshore seafloor environments may be linked to some degree with the stability and behavior of the barrier-island coastline. Recent sonar images of two small areas on the inner shelf have revealed extensive hardgrounds and complex sand wave structures indicating active sediment transport. Sonar images collected one year apart suggested some migration of large offshore sand ridges (kilometers in scale) may occur. However, what is missing is an explanation of the physical forcing mechanism that produced this seabed geomorphology. The real-time oceanographic data system will provide this essential data so that we can explain how and when the seabed is in motion and how the seabed interacts with the beach, either providing sand to the beach or storing it temporarily or permanently offshore.

Roy Leep discusses COMPS with Dr. Mark Luther

The long-term monitoring of offshore sediment distribution patterns will help verify transport rates and identify potential response of the adjacent coastline. This could lead to predictions of coastal site prone toward erosion. Along the marsh coast, is sediment cover on the adjacent shelf providing sediment to the marsh thus allowing it to keep up with sea-level, or is the eroding marsh providing sediment to the shelf? Simply put, we do not know the sediment transport pathways and exchanges between the coastal and inner shelf system.

We do not know the extent of seagrass cover on the adjacent shelf and to what extent this retards sediment transport during storms or how this benthic community response to storm activity. The seagrasses are vitally important to the marine benthic ecology of this region.

In summary, the geological monitoring program is designed to measure the changes and response of nearshore and coastal environments that can be directly related to the primary driving mechanism - the physical oceanographic data sets generated by the real-time monitoring program. This provides an unprecedented opportunity to identify physical mechanisms driving coastal change.

Related Programs

COMPS bolsters existing in-situ measurements and modeling programs funded by various state and federal agencies. For example, COMPS will complement the federally-funded program known as ECOHAB (Ecology of Harmful Algal Blooms). A grant from the Office of Naval Research will enable COMPS collaborators to augment the offshore observing array with two additional moorings off Sarasota County that report via satellite. The data from these two moorings will be integrated into the comprehensive COMPS data stream. In addition, ECOHAB will have eight other current meter moorings off Sarasota County which will provide insights into the physical oceanography of, and sediment transport over, the West Florida Shelf. In June of 1998 Florida's Ports Council voted to provide funding to expand the COMPS network to the Yucatan Channel. The plan which they approved calls for the installation of meteorological buoys with acoustic doppler current profilers and coastal sea level measurement systems on the eastern and western sides of the Yucatan Channel. Oceanographic scientists from Cuba and Mexico are collaborating and have agreed to help maintain these systems as part of the COMPS network. When these systems are in place, scientists will, for the first time, have real-time information on the major advective inputs to the Gulf of Mexico.

Data Delivery

The COMPS data archival and distribution system will collate data streams from the USF-operated sites with those from sites operated by other agencies into a seamless web-based interface. We have multiple satellite downlinks (both DRGS and DOMSAT) for receiving GOES data telemetry from remote sites. We are collaborating with the NOAA National Ocean Data Center, the NOAA Coastal Services Center, and the National Ocean Service to develop a comprehensive database management system for the acquisition, archival, quality assurance, and distribution of these data.

Collaborating agencies

Florida Department of Environmental Protection
Florida Marine Research Institute
Florida Institute of Oceanography
Citrus and Pasco Counties, Florida
City of Tarpon Springs
United States Geological Survey
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
United States Coast Guard
Office of Naval Research
Minerals Management Service
United States Environmental Protection Agency

For more information please contact:

Mark E. Luther
Robert H. Weisberg
Clifford R. Merz

---Andy Johnson.


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