Newswise — Speakers provided updates on the ocean-observing infrastructure in the Gulf of Mexico and the U.S. during the Gulf of Mexico Coastal Ocean Observing System’s (GCOOS) recent spring meeting.

The plenary speaker was Dr. William Burnett, Director of the National Data Buoy Center (NDBC), which uses marine buoys to collect and disseminate ocean observations that support maritime navigation as well as predictions to changes in weather, climate, oceans and coasts. The NDBC operates the world’s largest network of ocean observing buoys and has gathered nearly 50 years of data about the Gulf of Mexico. Data points include air temperature, relative humidity and dew point, barometric pressure, wave height and period and sea surface temperature. In 2021, GCOOS worked with NDBC to take over oceanographic data hosting for the Notice to Lessees and Operators gathered under Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) rules.

Dr. Burnett said he envisions “an ocean of things” with next generation buoys, drifters and other ocean instruments, as well as connected ships gathering mega datasets fed to a national command center for oceans, similar to the control centers NASA uses for space launches.

Other speakers included:

Josie Quintrell, Executive Director of the U.S. Integrated Ocean Observing System Association (IOOS Association), which provides support for the 11 regional ocean observing systems — including GCOOS — in the U.S. Association goals include a 100 percent increase in funding for the regional associations.


Carl Gouldman, Director of the U.S. Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS), a NOAA program designed to produce, integrate, and communicate high quality ocean, coastal and Great Lakes information that meets the safety, economic, and stewardship needs of the Nation. Gouldman provided funding and appropriations updates and discussed the ocean economy report, which provides an economic valuation of the “blue economy.”


Scott Rayder, Executive Director of The Alabama Water Institute based at the University of Alabama, provided an overview of the Institute and the new Cooperative Institute for Research to Operations in Hydrology, or CIROH. Headquartered at The Alabama Water Institute, CIROH is a consortium of 28 academic institutions, non-profit organizations and government and industry partners — including GCOOS. Over the next five years, CIROH will receive $360 million in federal funding to bring together a team of hydrologic researchers from across the United States and Canada to develop and deliver national hydrological analyses, forecast information, data, guidance and equitable decision-support services to inform essential emergency management and water resources decisions. CIROH is the first cooperative institute housed within the National Weather Service.


Ashley Peiffer, IOOS Association DEI Fellow, who discussed diversity, equity and inclusion in the ocean observing community.


Dr. Jorge Brenner, GCOOS Executive Director, who provided information and updates on GCOOS, including the recently completed Spring Webinar Series, which focused on the ocean observing activities undertaken by the Mexican ocean observing community in the southern Gulf of Mexico, and the upcoming International Ocean Acidification workshop being organized by the GCOOS Gulf of Mexico Coastal Acidification Network (GCAN) with the Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies at Texas A&M University. This invitation-only workshop will take place in Mexico in the fall and include OA-focused researchers from the U.S., Cuba and Mexico.

Following the presentations, GCOOS Board Chair Joe Swaykos shared the results from the recent GCOOS Board of Directors election. Elected were:

  • Private Sector: Dr. Ruth Perry, Marine Scientist and Regulatory Policy specialist for Shell Exploration and Production Americas and Jan van Smirren, Consultant Oceanographer with Ocean Sierra LLC
  • Government Sector: Dr. Jessica Henkel, Science Advisor and Coordinator for the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council (RESTORE Council), and Dr. Pat Hogan, oceanographer and Branch Chief of Ocean Sciences for the National Centers for Environmental Information
    Outreach and Education Sector: Dr. Nan Walker, Director of Louisiana State University’s Earth Scan Laboratory
  • Academic Sector: Dr. Stephan Howden, Associate Professor in the School of Ocean Science and Engineering and Director, Hydrographic Science Research Center at the University of Southern Mississippi.

The new and re-elected board members will officially take their seats at the GCOOS fall meeting.

Swaykos also announced that Kirsten Larsen, Coastal Data Science Advisor for the National Centers of Environmental Information (NCEI), has been elected Vice Chair of the Board, and Howden elected as Secretary.

  • To view the full meeting playlist on YouTube, click here.