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NOAA, an integrated ocean observing system operational wave observation plan, March 2008
NOAA (2008). NOAA, an integrated ocean observing system operational wave observation plan, March 2008. NOAA. National Ocean Service. National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science: [s.l.]. 53 pp.

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    The deployment of an Ocean Observing System is one of three central science and technology elements of the Ocean Research Priority Plan issued by the Joint Subcommittee on Ocean and Science and Technology in January 2007. In support of this goal, this document presents an operational plan for observing waves, one of the most important ocean variables, as part of the national Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS). The plan is the result of an interagency effort coordinated by the NOAA IOOS Program and the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE). The USACE worked in close partnership with NOAA’s National Weather Service’s (NWS) National Data Buoy Center (NDBC) in developing the plan. The Alliance for Coastal Technologies (ACT) contributed to the plan and facilitated the development process. The waves entering and crossing the nation’s waters, whether generated by a distant Pacific storm, local sea breeze, or a Category 5 hurricane, have a profound impact on navigation, offshore operations, recreation, safety, and the economic vitality of the nation’s maritime and coastal communities. Although waves are a critical oceanographic variable and measurementassets exist, there are only 181 observation sites nationwide, leaving significant gaps in coverage. Morethan half of the wave instruments have the capability to estimate directional waves, though their accuracyvaries. Moreover, existing locations were placed or “determined” based on local requirements, resulting in a useful, but ad hoc wave network and a limited integration of the observations into user-friendly products.The objectives of the IOOS Operational Wave Observation Plan are to create a national network thatsupports IOOS goals and takes advantage of agency and regional interests, funding, and capabilities.The plan is comprehensive in that it addresses spatial and temporal coverage, and defines a level of measurement accuracy that will serve the requirements of the broadest range of wave information users. Itidentifies existing wave observation assets, presents a comprehensive system design and then makes specificrecommendations to (1) upgrade existing sensors; (2) add additional observations in critical “gap” locations;(3) implement a continuous technology testing and evaluation program; 4) support the Quality Assurance/ Quality Control (QA/QC) and data integration of wave observations from a large number of IOOS operators; (5) support the operation and maintenance requirements of the system;(6) include the training and education of IOOS wave operators; and (7) promote the development of new sensors and measurement techniques.The design of the network is based on establishing four along-coast observational subnets. These include:• Offshore Subnet: deep ocean outpost stations that observe approaching waves, prior to their passage into coastal boundary currents;• Outer-Shelf Subnet: an array of stations along the deepwater edge of the continental shelfbreak where waves begin to transition from deep to shallow water behavior;• Inner-Shelf Subnet: on wide continental shelves (notably the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico coasts), an array of shallow water stations to monitor cross-shelf bottom dissipation and wind generation of waves;• Coastal Subnet: shallow coastal wave observations, which provide local, site-specific information. This plan divides the US coastline into seven primary regions: the Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico, Pacific, Alaska, Pacific Islands, Great Lakes, and the Caribbean Sea. Existing wave observation assets, and requests for additional assets from the Regional Associations, were incorporated into the subnet design structure.This resulted in a network, that when completed, will include a total of 283 sensors: 56 in the Offshore, 58 Outer-Shelf, 45 Inner-Shelf, and 124 Coastal. Of these, 102 are new. Directional upgrades are required at 128locations to complete the network. All observation data supported by this plan will flow through the IOOS Data Assembly Center (DAC) operated by NDBC and through the USACE/CDIP data center at Scripps, using IOOS Data Integration Framework (DIF) compliant standards and metadata. Use of DIF standards with controlled vocabulary identification and documentation will enable wave data to be easily found through an open data discovery process. To insure that deployed sensors meet the accuracy requirements of the plan, a significant effort to test and evaluate existing and new sensor/platform combinations in included, as are provisions to support and encourage the development of new wave observation technology, including the use of land-based High Frequency (HF) Radar systems. The proposed Year-1 budget is approximately $6M, increasing to about $12M per year thereafter, with capital investment costs being gradually replaced with operation and maintenance costs. Although these numbers are an add-on to existing wave observing budgets, they do not include additional ship time costs.The establishment and maintenance of an effective and efficient wave measurement system requires a partnership between federal agencies, state and local agencies, the private sector, and Regional Associations and Regional Coastal Observing Systems. Because of the diversity of observers, funding sources, and deployedinstruments, the USACE and NOAA will work closely through the IWGOO partner agencies to encouragecompliance with and adoption of the plan. In August 2007, a draft of this plan was reviewed by apanel of wave data collection and application experts. Their numerous suggestions have been incorporatedinto this document, and they unanimously support both the need for a national wave observation planand the proposed design.

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