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NOAA to Integrate Independent Observers

(03July2013) By PHILIP A. JANQUART , WASHINGTON (CN) – The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration seeks comments on a proposed regulation involving integrating regional information entities into a federal marine monitoring system.

These Regional Information Coordination Entities (RICEs) coordinate regional observing efforts; manage and operate observing assets; manage and distribute data; and engage user groups in product development,” according to NOAA.

The proposed action is meant to integrate some of the regional entities into the federal Integrated Coastal and Ocean Observation System (ICOOS).

The ICOOS Act of 2009, which the U.S. Integrated Ocean Observing System Program Office is to implement, is aimed at “the development and sustainability of a national and international integrated ocean observing system designed to collect, monitor and disseminate marine environment data in an interoperable, reliable, timely and user-specified manner by leveraging federal, regional and private-sector partnerships,” according to the Catalogue of Federal Domestic Assistance. The office helps entities interested in federal programs wade through the application process.

The NOAA said the data is used to “support national defense, marine commerce, navigation safety, weather, climate and marine forecasting, energy siting and production, economic development, ecosystem-based marine, coastal and Great Lakes resource management, public safety, and public outreach training and education.”

A big part of accomplishing that goal is integrating non-federal entities into ICOOS. The proposed action, if approved, would solidify criteria and certain requirements outlined by the Interagency Ocean Observation Committee for RICEs acceptance into the federal system.

The RICEs, however, would not be government funded once accepted and would be obligated to report their respective financial statuses while outlining “plans and strategies to diversify funding sources and opportunities,” according to the NOAA’s action.

Another purpose of the system is to “fulfill the nation’s international obligations to contribute to the Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS) and the Global Ocean Observing System (GOOS),” the NOAA said in its action. Both systems are ICOOS’s international counterparts. The GEOSS observes the earth as a complete system while the GOOS observes the ocean as a separate system.

“Earth observations include measurements and monitoring of the Earth under water, on the land surface and beneath, air and water quality, of atmospheric conditions, and measures of the health of humans, plants and animals. Measurements can be made directly or by sensors in contact or remotely, and all these observations support modeling or other tools that create information for environmental decision-making, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

The proposed action makes certified RISE entities a part of the NOAA and its government employees “for the purpose of determining liability arising from the collection, dissemination and use of observation data,” the NOAA said in its action.

Comments are due by Aug. 1.