The GCOOS Spring Webinar Series 2023 featured our Principal Investigators and included an overview of their GCOOS-supported work in the Gulf of Mexico and how it supports the organization’s Strategic Plan and Focus Areas.
The showcase focused on their work and impacts on ocean observing in the Gulf of Mexico and how these efforts support GCOOS’s mission to provide robust and real-time data to communities.
Webinars took place in February and March
“GCOOS Current Five-Year Award: Introduction and Partnerships”
& “Decision Support Tools for Maritime Transportation in the Gulf of Mexico”
GCOOS Executive Director Dr. Jorge Brenner
“GCOOS Current Five-Year Award: Introduction and Partnerships”
Dr. Jorge Brenner has more than 15 years of experience in marine ecology, biodiversity conservation, environmental engineering, geospatial data science, ecological economics, ecological restoration, fisheries sustainability, and climate change risk management.
He obtained his doctorate in Marine Science from the Catalonia Polytechnic University in Barcelona, Spain. His dissertation was focused on mapping and valuing ecosystem services in the Mediterranean coast in a collaboration with the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC) and the Gund Institute for Ecological Economics of the University of Vermont. After completing his doctoral degree, he joined the Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies at Texas A&M University – Corpus Christi as a Post-Doctoral Researcher. During the last 10 years, he has served as an Associate Director of Marine Science and Sustainable Fisheries with The Nature Conservancy. He also holds a bachelor’s in science in Marine Biochemical Engineering, and a master’s in Environmental Engineering from the Monterrey Tec Institute.
Throughout his career, Dr. Brenner has led projects and published about biodiversity informatics, strategic conservation planning, migratory transboundary resources, international marine protection initiatives, natural capital sustainability, and risks and adaptation to climate change in social-ecological systems. He has managed environmental projects and research in support of collaborations in the US, Mexico, Cuba and Spain and, since early in his career, has mentored national and international students.
Dr. Mark Luther, Associate Professor and Director of the Center for Maritime and Port Studies, University of South Florida
“Decision Support Tools for Maritime Transportation in the Gulf of Mexico”
Eleven of the top 20 ports (ranked by total tonnage) in the U.S. are located in the Gulf of Mexico. The USF Center for Maritime and Port Studies provides an interface between GCOOS and the maritime transportation community. AI routines are being developed to improve the forecast of met/ocean parameters at critical navigation points near the busiest Gulf ports by integrating available observations and model hindcasts/nowcasts/forecasts with vessel tracking data to predict optimal vessel arrival times to satisfy published Vessel Handling Guidelines for tide, current, and wind conditions.
Mark E. Luther is an Associate Professor and Director of the Center for Maritime and Port Studies in the University of South Florida College of Marine Science. He has worked in real-time ocean observing systems since 1991 and was involved in planning and implementation of the U.S. Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS) from its inception. He works closely with the Tampa Port Authority, the Tampa Bay Pilots, U.S. Coast Guard, and other maritime interests on environmental issues affecting and affected by maritime transportation operations and infrastructure.
He is an avid boater with both power and sail boats and holds a U.S. Coast Guard Captain’s License. He has been sailing the waters of Tampa Bay and west Florida since 1983.
“BSEE Notice to Lessees and Operators Data” & “Mote Marine Laboratory and GCOOS: Research Highlights and Lessons Learned Post-Hurricane Ian”
Felimon Gayanilo, GCOOS co-Data Manager
“Where are the Data From the Oil and Gas Industry in the Gulf of Mexico?”
This talk will cover a brief introduction to the Bureau of Safety and Environment Enforcement (BSEE) and the Notices to Lessees and Operators (NTLs) that precipitated the collection of ADCP data. The introductory notes will also cover the transition period from the National Data Buoy Center to GCOOS on the collection and curation of the ADCP data. The current status of the effort and a short presentation of the BSEE/NTL data portal will follow. The talk will culminate with plans to enhance the data services.
Felimon Gayanilo is a Systems Architect/Enterprise IT working on various projects with the Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies, Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi. He has more than three decades of experience in the design, development, and deployment of information systems in local, national and international settings before he joined the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada, in 2000, the University of Miami in 2003, and Texas A&M University in 2012. Gayanilo is a PI/co-PI to several projects funded by the National Academies of Sciences (NAS), National Science Foundation (NSF), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Organization (NOAA), and other private foundations. He served as GCOOS co-Data Manager and was the original architect and developer of the GCOOS data portal, published in 2008, and continues to maintain and upgrade to the present. Gayanilo is a member of many professional organizations and is currently a board member of the Earth Science Information Partners (ESIP), supported by NASA, NOAA, USGS, and 130+ member organizations.
John J. Langan, Senior Engineer and Manager of the Ocean Technology Program at Mote Marine Laboratory
“Mote Marine Laboratory and GCOOS. Research highlights and Lessons Learned post Hurricane Ian”
This presentation will focus mainly on what Mote is currently doing in their research with GCOOS in regards to gliders and the programmable hyperspectral seawater scanners. It will also illustrate the struggles they’ve encountered since Hurricane Ian trying to get their equipment back up and running.
John J. Langan joined Mote Marine Laboratory in 2022 as Senior Engineer/Manager of the Ocean Technology Program, which develops and utilizes various forms of cutting-edge technology in conjunction with a wide range of interdisciplinary scientific goals to solve problems, streamline processes, and monitor water quality in the eastern Gulf of Mexico. He joined Mote from Florida Gulf Coast University, where he most recently served as an adjunct professor in the Environmental Engineering Department. He received his B.S. in Applied Science and Technology from Thomas A. Edison State College in 2011 and his M.S. in Unmanned Systems from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in 2016.
High Frequency Radar
Dr. Stephan Howden, University of Southern Mississippi
“The Central Gulf of Mexico Ocean Observing System“
Physical oceanographer Dr. Stephan Howden will talk about the University of Southern Mississippi’s Central Gulf of Mexico Ocean Observing System and the ocean science and monitoring efforts it is conducting as part of GCOOS with buoys, uncrewed maritime systems and high frequency radars.
Dr. Stephan D. Howden is an Associate Professor in the Department of Marine Science at the University of Southern Mississippi, where he has directed the Central Gulf of Mexico Ocean Observing System since 2003. Howden has been involved with what became the GCOOS since 2003.
Dr. Tony Knap, Texas A&M University’s (TAMU) Geochemical and Environmental Research Group (GERG)
“HFR at TAMU”
Dr. Anthony Knap is the Director of GERG at TAMU, Professor of Oceanography and the holder of the James Whatley Endowed Chair for Geosciences. Prior to coming to Texas, he was responsible for developing the Bermuda Institute for Biological Sciences (BIOS) from a small biological station into a world-renowned center on oceanographic research.
He has published more than 200 papers and book chapters on ocean chemistry and biogeochemistry, oil pollution and other marine pollutants, ocean observations, risk assessment of climate change, and oceans and human health. He has more than 18,500 science citations.
Knap and colleagues started the Risk Prediction Initiative — a partnership between the re-insurance industry and climate scientists as well as the International Center for Ocean and Human Health. He recently served on the National Academy of Science Gulf of Mexico Advisory Board for a three-year term, and is a Member of the International Advisory Board for the Institute of Oceanology of National Academy of Sciences of China, Member of Interdisciplinary Faculty of Toxicology, a member of the Texas One Gulf Leadership Committee for the Restore Act, member of the Advisory Board for the Energy Institute of Texas A&M University and recently has been appointed the Director of the Applied Mass Spectrometry Core of Texas A&M University.
Ben Williams, Fugro
“Public-Private Partnerships in Ocean Observing: An Industry Prospective”
This talk will give an overview of Fugro’s high frequency radar
systems and partnership with GCOOS. Ongoing partnerships in other regional associations and entities will also be discussed as potential future opportunities in the Gulf of Mexico region.
Williams joined Fugro in 2005 as an Oceanographic Field Technician and has held numerous roles in his 17 years from Project & Operations Management to Service Line Director, most recently serving as the Metocean Service Line Director. He has worked across the globe having been based at times in both the Americas, Europe & Africa Regions.
“Advancing Products to Support Marine Life Studies and Management Assessments” & “LSU Earth Scan Lab (ESL) Satellite Image Products for GCOOS”
Dr. Frank Muller-Karger, University of South Florida, satellite products.
“Advancing Products to Support Marine Life Studies and Management Assessments”
GCOOS and the IOOS programs are working with the Marine Biodiversity Observation Network (MBON) to integrate biological data into ocean observing. This work is part of the Healthy Ecosystems and Living Resources Key Focus Area of the GCOOS Strategic Plan (2020-2025).
The goal of MBON is to support coastal and offshore studies of marine life, including addressing the needs for environmental and biological observations of the National Marine Sanctuaries (Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary, Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary). The collaboration between GCOOS and MBON helps advance rapid, frequent, synoptic, and accessible maps of multiple Essential Ocean Variables (EOV), and links GCOOS with the efforts to develop Essential Biodiversity Variables.
Among the examples that we will discuss are efforts to validate biogeographic “Seascapes” developed by MBON researchers in collaboration with CoastWatch (NOAA NESDIS) and NASA, monitoring for coastal plumes impacts on the Flower Garden Banks, and characterizing phytoplankton species variability and changes in reef-fish biodiversity in waters of the Florida Keys.
GCOOS and MBON have pioneered the implementation of data management strategies to facilitate the dataflow of biological observations using standardized data formats (such as DarwinCore) into open regional and international databases such as the Ocean Biodiversity Information System (OBIS). These approaches are now adopted across IOOS Regional Associations. GCOOS and MBON welcome biologists and ecologists in the region to join and participate in this collaborative activity to characterize multistressor patterns (changes in phenology and biodiversity, temperature, salinity, acidification, pollution, etc.) and to evaluate resilience and vulnerability of ecological systems of the region.
Dr. Frank E. Müller-Karger is a Professor in the College of Marine Science, University of South Florida (USA). As a biological oceanographer, Dr. Müller-Karger’s research focuses on how marine ecosystems change over time. He evaluates links between water quality, primary production and biodiversity in coastal marine environments, and how these may be connected to climate change and human activities. Muller-Karger serves as the co-lead of the U.S. and international Marine Biodiversity Observation Network (MBON), the Marine Life 2030 program endorsed by the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development and the NOAA Climate Program Office/Sanctuaries Climate Indicator Task Force. He has published more than 340 peer-reviewed articles and is the 2021 recipient of the William T. Pecora Award (Individual); is a AAAS Fellow and served on the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy.
Dr. Nan Walker, Louisiana State University Earth Scan Lab (ESL)
“LSU Earth Scan Lab (ESL) Satellite Image Products for GCOOS”
This talk will overview the satellite imagery that GCOOS is funding ESL to produce daily, as well as applications for this imagery. A GOES SST animation will be shown to highlight the detachment of Warm Core Eddy Zodiac from the Loop Current around Christmas 2022. The record-breaking flood of the Mississippi River in 2019 will be discussed using a MODIS true color image animation. In addition, a short tour of the ESL website will be provided to facilitate accessing animations of hurricanes and hurricane cool wakes as well as the long-term (2-20 years) image archives, that document coastal and deep-water conditions and events in the Gulf of Mexico.
Dr. Nan Walker has more than 30 years of experience in satellite remote sensing of coastal and oceanic processes. She has been employed as a faculty member at LSU in the Coastal Studies Institute and the Department of Oceanography and Coastal Sciences for more than 30 years, where she teaches graduate and undergraduate courses, advises M.S. and Ph.D. graduate students in their research, and has directed the ESL since 2003. She specializes in using satellite data to advance the understanding of physical processes and air-sea interactions, and has conducted research in the Gulf of Mexico, Florida Keys/Bahama Bank region, the southern African region and the Caribbean Sea. Her research interests include Loop Current eddy circulation, air-sea interactions related to hurricanes and winter storms, estuarine-shelf exchange processes, surface sediment transport, coastal upwelling, and ocean climatology. She has experience in the application of visible, thermal, and microwave (SAR) satellite measurements. In recent years, she has focused on understanding Loop Current frontal eddy cyclone impacts on circulation and on ocean-atmosphere interactions that impact hurricane intensity changes. She has a B.S. in Marine Zoology (Duke University), an M.S. in Marine Sciences (Louisiana State University), and a Ph.D. in Physical Oceanography (University of Cape Town, South Africa). She spent a 2-year “sabbatical” with her husband starting in 1989 (after her Ph.D.), sailing their 32-foot sailboat from Cape Town to the Gulf of Mexico, with a 6-month research experience in the West Indies Marine Lab, U.S. Virgin Islands, studying Hurricane Hugo’s impacts on the corals of St Croix. Her hobbies include scuba diving, photography, hiking, bicycling, and gardening.
“Providing Real-Time Water Quality Conditions Through Harmful Algae Blooms (HABs) and Hurricanes” & “Near Real-Time Remote Sensing: Monitoring of Water Properties of the Gulf of Mexico”
Dr. Eric Milbrandt, Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation
“Providing Real-Time Water Quality Conditions Through Harmful Algae Blooms (HABs) and Hurricanes”
Continuous data is valuable when describing and understanding events. The Caloosahatchee Estuary and associated marine waters of the Gulf of Mexico have persistent harmful algal blooms from freshwater (cyanobacteria) to marine (dinoflagellate) environments. The establishment of nine real-time sensor platforms throughout estuary and surrounding barrier islands in 2007 has broadened the understanding of the sources of freshwater, either Lake or watershed, on water quality. The data are used for research purposes and are summarized into weekly condition reports that are shared with academic, state and federal partners.
Dr. Eric Milbrandt received his B.S. from Cal Poly Humboldt and earned a Ph.D. in Biology from the University of Oregon. His research is on water quality, harmful algae blooms and the effects on seagrass and oyster reef communities. In 2007, he established the River, Estuary and Coastal Observing Network (RECON) to provide data about the dynamics of the Caloosahatchee Estuary and Gulf of Mexico. He is the Director of the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation (SCCF) Marine Laboratory.
The Lab addresses coastal hazards, human health and safety (hurricanes, water levels, wind speeds, HABs) and healthy ecosystems (salinity gradients, hypoxia, chlorophyll monitoring).
Dr. Chuanmin Hu, Professor of Optical Oceanography, USF
“Near Real-Time Remote Sensing: Monitoring of Water Properties of the Gulf of Mexico”
Hu has established a virtual antenna system (VAS) to download and process satellite data in near real-time, from which the following have been developed:
- Sargassum Watch System (SaWS) to monitor and track pelagic sargassum
- Virtual Buoy System (VBS) to monitor coastal water quality
- Integrated Red tide Information System (IRIS) to monitor and track red tides
Dr. Chuanmin Hu is Professor of Oceanography at the College of Marine Science, University of South Florida, Florida, USA. He obtained a B.S degree from the University of Science and Technology of China, and a PhD degree from the University of Miami (USA). He specializes in using laboratory, field, and remote sensing techniques to study algal blooms (harmful and non-harmful, macroalgae and microalgae), oil spills, coastal and inland water quality, and global changes. He directs the USF Optical Oceanography Lab to establish a Virtual Buoy System (VBS ) to monitor coastal and estuarine water quality, an Integrated Redtide Information System (IRIS ) to provide near real-time information on harmful algal blooms, and a Sargassum Watch System (SaWS ) to combine remote sensing and numerical modeling to track macroalgae. He is an elected fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and an elected member of the Academy of Science Engineering and Medicine of Florida (ASEMFL).
“USF Glider Operations” & “WAVCIS: Status and Prospects”
Chad Lembke, USF
“USF Glider Operations”
Lembke will provide an update of the scope, results, and plans for the USF glider fleet, which perform near year-round deployments in the eastern Gulf of Mexico and provide data to local, regional, and national partners. Water quality variables collected provide context for research endeavors such as red tide monitoring and evolution, circulation models, hurricane strength forecasting, and fisheries applications.
Lembke is a research faculty member who has focused on mechanical and systems engineering for the University of South Florida’s College of Marine Science since 1998. Within the Center for Ocean Technology (COT), he has been involved in prototype engineering, fabrication, and utilization of dozens of sensors, instruments, and platforms designed for use in the oceanographic environment, including coastal profiling floats, ROVs, AUVs, buoys, underwater mass spectrometers, and other chemical and biological sensors.
Dr. Chunyan Li, LSU
“WAVCIS: Status and Prospects”
Dr. Li will review the status of Wave-Current-Surge Information System (WAVCIS), the observational and research activities pertinent to GCOOS-funded work, and the future prospects.
Dr. Chunyan Li, Professor at LSU, Director of WAVCIS, is interested in coastal physical oceanography, estuarine dynamics, met-ocean observations and analysis, severe weather induced ocean response, land-ocean exchange and impacts of climate change. He teaches several courses at LSU, including dynamical oceanography, physical oceanography, estuarine dynamics, forecasting coastal weather, and ocean data analysis.
“Envisioning & Building a Nutrient Sensor Network in the Gulf of Mexico” & “Continued Development of the GCOOS Observing System: Satellite Altimetry Data”
Dr. Beth Stauffer, University of Louisiana at Lafayette (UL)
“Envisioning & Building a Nutrient Sensor Network in the Gulf of Mexico”
Eutrophication and other water quality issues are of concern, especially in coastal and estuarine environments like those found in the northern Gulf of Mexico where harmful algal blooms and hypoxia regularly occur. Traditionally, discrete sampling has been used to determine nutrient concentrations, but the development of sensor technologies has improved our understanding of these dynamic systems. Since 2014, interagency efforts have been under way to identify new, accurate and affordable technologies in the nutrient sensor market, test those technologies against stated specifications and ultimately, assess integration of those technologies in existing monitoring programs. With support from EPA and NOAA through the Alliance for Coastal Technologies and GCOOS, a partnership of monitoring groups has been testing deployment of an affordable (<$10k) wet chemical nitrate sensor in Gulf of Mexico estuaries. Lessons learned from this work, along with ongoing efforts to build a nutrient sensor monitoring network in the Gulf, will be presented and discussed.
Dr. Beth Stauffer is a biological oceanographer and phytoplankton ecologist whose research focuses on understanding how physical, chemical and biological environments contribute to changing phytoplankton communities in coastal waters. Much of her current research is set in the Gulf of Mexico, where her team is studying how phytoplankton communities and the food webs they support vary across gradients of ocean acidification, ongoing estuarine change and in response to extreme weather events. She has also been involved in technology development and adoption, especially toward continuous nutrient sensing, since her time as a AAAS Science & Technology Policy Fellow hosted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Dr. Stauffer is an Associate Professor in the Department of Biology and the SLEMCO/LEQSF Regents Endowed Professor in Science II at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. Prior to joining the UL Lafayette faculty, she was a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University. Dr. Stauffer earned her Bachelor of Science with a double major in Marine Science and Biology at the University of Miami and her Doctorate in Marine Environmental Biology at the University of Southern California. (Visit the Stauffer Lab website)
Dr. Robert Leben, University of Colorado (UCO) Boulder
“Continued Development of the GCOOS Observing System: Satellite Altimetry Data”
This talk will review GCOOS-funded work at the University of Colorado Boulder for monitoring, maintaining, and transitioning near real-time and historical altimetry products for the Gulf of Mexico to the GCOOS Data Management and Communications (DMAC) subsystem. He will also provide an update of the altimeter data products and review recent significant oceanographic events in the Gulf.
Dr. Robert R. Leben is a Research Professor Emeritus in the Ann and H. J. Smead Department of Aerospace Engineering Sciences at the University of Colorado Boulder (UCB) and a member of the Colorado Center for Astrodynamics Research (CCAR). His primary area of expertise is satellite altimetry and its application to ocean circulation and climate monitoring. He has published more than 60 peer-reviewed publications in this area. Since 1996, he has maintained a near real-time altimeter data system for monitoring mesoscale ocean circulation. He has made significant contributions to oceanographic research in the Gulf of Mexico both as a PI or Co-PI on 10 Gulf research programs and has consulted on the development and skill assessment of ocean nowcast and forecast systems for the offshore oil and gas industry working in the Gulf of Mexico.
“Early Warning of Harmful Algal Blooms Using Continuous Automated Imaging Flow Cytometry” & “Building Capacity for Real-Time Monitoring of HAB Species Within the Gulf of Mexico”
Dr. Lisa Campbell, TAMU
“Early Warning of Harmful Algal Blooms Using Continuous Automated Imaging Flow Cytometry”
The Imaging FlowCytobot (IFCB) combines flow cytometry and video technology to capture images of individual plankton cells. Continuous, automated operation and data processing, together with machine-learning technology, enables near real-time reporting of individual phytoplankton species abundance and community composition. Sustained operation of this novel technology at the Texas Observatory for Algal Succession Time series (TOAST) in Port Aransas, Texas, since 2007, and Surfside Beach, Texas, since 2017, has provided successful early warning for HAB events. Initial stages of HABs are detected with sufficient time to close shellfish harvesting and prevent human illness. In addition, time series data have been used in particle tracking and individual based models to identify the origins of HABs sources and the importance of physical factors in bloom initiation. Examination of archived images from this high temporal resolution (hourly to daily) time series at TOAST has furnished new insights on interactions among the plankton (e.g., parasites, symbionts, grazers) and the dynamics of phytoplankton community structure.
Dr. Lisa Campbell received her M.S. and Ph.D. from SUNY Stony Brook (now Stony Brook University) and was a Research Scientist at the University of Hawaii before joining the faculty at Texas A&M University in 1996. Currently, she is a Regents Professor and recipient of the William R. Bryant Endowed Chair in the Department of Oceanography. She has had a joint appointment in the Department of Biology since 2001. Her research focuses on the diversity and population dynamics of marine phytoplankton. Although she has worked in all oceans, her current research centers on harmful algal blooms in the Gulf of Mexico. Dr. Campbell pioneered the use of the Imaging FlowCytobot (IFCB) as a monitoring tool for harmful algae. The IFCB combines flow cytometry and video technology to capture images of individual algal cells in real time. Using this autonomous system, she has established a long-term high temporal resolution phytoplankton time series and has provided successful early warning for potential harmful algal blooms since 2007. Dr. Campbell has been recognized at TAMU for a Distinguished Achievement in Teaching (2015), a Women’s Faculty Network Outstanding Mentoring Award (2014), Dean’s Distinguished Achievement Award for Faculty Research (2009) and is a Sustaining Fellow of the Association for the Sciences of Limnology & Oceanography (ASLO). She served as Secretary on the Board of Directors ASLO from 2009-2018 and currently serves as an Associate Editor for the Journal of Plankton Research. She has published over 100 peer-reviewed publications.
Dr. Kenneth Hoadley, University of Alabama (UA)
“Building Capacity for Real-Time Monitoring of HAB Species Within the Gulf of Mexico”
Dr. Hoadley is an early career researcher at the University of Alabama and is part of a collaborative effort to improve detection and forecasting of harmful algal bloom species such as Karenia brevis within the Northern Gulf of Mexico. Specifically, these efforts involve deploying an Imaging FlowCytobot within Mobile Bay which — along with currently deployed instruments within GoM — will feed into a new imaging analysis pipeline for real-time monitoring of key HAB species through the GCOOS portal.
Dr. Hoadley is an assistant professor in the biological sciences department at the University of Alabama, as well as a senior marine scientist I at the Dauphin Island Sea Lab. His background is in algal ecophysiology and response to climate change. His work encompasses molecular and physiological characterization using a broad range of instrumentation, including the development of custom bio-optical tools.