U.S. Commerce secretary Gary Locke recently announced $40 million for hydrographic survey and chart projects across the United States that he says strengthen the economy, create jobs, and support safe and efficient marine commerce and trade. Funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, the Commerce Department's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) will allocate $32 million to utilize hydrographic surveying contractors to collect data in critical coastal areas which are used to map the seafloor and update nautical charts.
"These Recovery Act contracts are an important investment in our nation's marine transportation system, which employs more than 13 million people. Our waterways are facing unprecedented demands from marine commerce, but our seafloor mapping is outdated," Locke said. "Charting our coastal seafloors for the most up-to-date information gives ports and shippers important data to increase efficiency and safety, boosting our nation's long-term economic health."
Recovery Act funding will be used to conduct 39 surveys, charting nearly 2,000 square nautical miles in the Chesapeake Bay, and in the coastal waters of Alaska, Washington, California, Louisiana, Alabama, Florida and Virginia. Using the latest technologies, surveyors map the sea floor, measure the water depth, search the ocean for storm debris or accident wreckage, and record the natural features of coastal seabeds and fragile aquatic life.
More information on funded projects nationwide is available on the NOAA Recovery Act Web site. The public can follow the progress of each project on the recovery site, which will include an interactive online map that enables the public to track where and how NOAA recovery funds are spent.
NOAA's mission is to understand and predict changes in the Earth's environment, from the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun and conserve and manage our coastal and marine resources. For information, visit http://www.noaa.gov.