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NOAA Improving Search & Rescue
Improving Search and Rescue
Photo credit - USGS

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new set of ocean observing data that enhances the ability to track probable paths of victims and drifting survivor craft should improve search and rescue efforts along the U.S. coast. The data comes from the Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS®), part of a joint effort among NOAA, the Mid-Atlantic Coastal Ocean Observing Regional Association, the U.S. Coast Guard, and the Department of Homeland Security.

The new data sets include surface current maps from high frequency radar systems.The technology measures speed and direction of ocean surface currents in nearreal time, which the Coast Guard can then use to guide its search and rescueoperations with greater accuracy. The maps can also be used to support otherscientific work, such as oil spill response, harmful algal bloom monitoring,and water quality assessments.

“IOOS is known for providing information about tracking, managing and adaptingto changes in the marine environment. Using it operationally for search and rescueis an important step,” said Zdenka Willis, NOAA IOOS program director. "Thisis about saving lives."

The data will feed into Coast Guard servers to improve environmental observationsfor the agency’s operational Search and Rescue Optimal Planning System.A short term predictive system that allows 24-hour forecasts for sea surfacecurrents based on the most recent ocean observations will also be available inthe Mid-Atlantic region.

“The Coast Guard is continuously striving to enhance its Search and Rescuecapabilities by obtaining the latest operational environmental products thatNOAA has to offer. Better data means search efforts can be focused on smallerareas, saving more lives by allowing us to locate and assist distressed personsmore quickly,” said Jack Frost USCG's Program Manager for Search and RescueOptimal Planning System (SAROPS).

“From the recreational fisherman to the family swimming at the beach, peoplein the Mid-Atlantic region will enjoy a safer life as a direct benefit of applyingjoint technology and understanding to meet community needs,” said JudithKrauthamer, executive director of the Mid-Atlantic Coastal Ocean Observing RegionalAssociation.

NOAA understands and predicts changes in the Earth’s environment, fromthe depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun, and conserves and managesour coastal and marine resources.



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