NOAA Marine Debris Capabilities Webinar

On March 11, 2020 the NOAA Marine Debris Program hosted a webinar on marine debris research capabilities within NOAA. Six speakers from offices and programs across the NOAA family presented on their office’s interests and capabilities with respect to marine debris research, monitoring, and detection. Presenters represented the following offices: 

  • National Ocean Service, Office of Response & Restoration, Marine Debris Program 
  • National Ocean Service, National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science 
  • National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service, National Centers for Environmental Information 
  • Office of Oceanic & Atmospheric Research, Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory 
  • Office of Oceanic & Atmospheric Research, Climate Program Office, Global Ocean Monitoring and Observing Program 
  • Office of Oceanic & Atmospheric Research, Pacific Marine Environmental Lab 

About the Speakers

Amy V. Uhrin serves as the Chief Scientist for NOAA’s Marine Debris Program (MDP). In this role, she is responsible for developing and implementing the MDP’s Strategic Research Plan, overseeing MDP’s diverse research portfolio, and leading internal research projects, as well as overseeing external research projects funded by MDP.

Wayne McFee is the Program Lead for the Coastal Marine Mammal Assessments Program in the Key Species and Bioinformatics Branch at National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science in Charleston, SC. He specializes in marine mammal strandings, fisheries interactions, and contaminants. He has been with NOAA since 1993 and has regularly monitored marine mammal interactions with marine debris and currently co-chairs the Wildlife and Habitat Impacts from Marine Debris working group to the 2019 Southeast Marine Debris Action Plan.

Ebenezer Nyadjro is an Associate Research Professor with Mississippi State University/Northern Gulf Institute (a NOAA Cooperative Institute). His background is in physical and satellite oceanography, and he is currently leading efforts to build a global marine microplastic database for NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information. His interests also include developing sensors for remote measurements of marine debris and tracking the movement of marine debris.

Joaquin Trinanes is the Operations Manager for the CoastWatch Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic OceanWatch nodes located at NOAA’s Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory, in Miami. His research interests are focused on remote sensing, oceanography, and scalable data management and analysis.

Kelley Suhre is the Acting Deputy Director for NOAA's Global Ocean Monitoring and Observing Program. She specializes in field operations, cruise planning and execution, and telepresence/remote science. She has been with NOAA since 2004 and has more than a decade of experience planning and managing at-sea projects and expeditions to investigate the deep-ocean around the globe. 

Chris Meinig is the Director of the Engineering Development Division at NOAA’s Pacific Marine Environmental Lab. He leads a diversified team of engineers and technicians specializing in the research, development, and deployment of ocean and atmospheric instruments and observing platforms. His work is global in scope and includes moorings, ships, remotely operated vehicles, underwater gliders, and unmanned surface and aerial vehicles, and he has logged over 550 days at sea.


Amy V. Uhrin (00:00:00):

As a result of numerous NOAA subagency office and programs reaching out to us to understand more about what we do and to perhaps leverage their various field and lab capabilities, we decided to host this informal and informative webinar as an opportunity to highlight those capabilities and connect various offices and programs within NOAA.

Amy V. Uhrin (00:00:22):

So prior to the webinar, we circulated a Google Form to our existing NOAA partners and other interested offices to capture these capabilities, and that information will be shared forthcoming. It is a living document that we wish to update regularly as capabilities arise or change, so look for emails from our program in the distant future asking you to complete the form so we can update those capabilities. In addition, this webinar will be recorded and circulated to attendees and to the larger email invite list.

Amy V. Uhrin (00:00:55):

So we're pleased to have seven speakers from across the NOAA family, including myself. I do have to acknowledge that some offices and programs are not represented in this webinar due to capacity issues. These include a number of the NIMP science centers who have supported individual marine debris projects over the years, Sea Grant involvement, and a handful of national marine sanctuaries and National Estruaine Research Reserve sites that participate in our shoreline monitoring project. So perhaps the next time around, after we update capabilities, perhaps we'll have another webinar and we can highlight these other efforts that aren't captured here. But they are captured in the Google Form responses that we will circulate forthcoming.

Amy V. Uhrin (00:01:39):

So for those who may have joined late, I'm Amy Uhrin. I'm the Chief Scientist for NOAA's Marine Debris Program. Again, we're under the Office of Response and Restoration within NOS. And so I'm going to go ahead and kick off with a short summary about our program.

Amy V. Uhrin (00:01:55):

So the mission of our program is to investigate and prevent the impacts of marine debris, and our program was established by the 2006 Marine Debris Act. The original act requires the program to identify, determine sources of, assess, prevent, reduce, and remove marine debris and address the adverse impacts of marine debris on the U.S. economy, the marine environment, and navigation safety.

Amy V. Uhrin (00:02:22):

In October 2018, the president signed the Save Our Seas Act, which amends and reauthorizes the Marine Debris Act for four years. This new act promotes international action to reduce marine debris, authorizes cleanup and response actions as a result of severe marine debris events, and updates the membership of the Interagency Marine Debris Coordinating Committee. Some of you have been on that committee. Additionally, the act authorizes and requires NOAA to work with other federal agencies to develop additional outreach and education strategies to address the marine debris issue.

Amy V. Uhrin (00:03:00):

So all of us on this call know what marine debris is, but here is the formal definition. And what I wanted to stress in this particular slide is that the Marine Debris Program addresses marine debris in all its forms, so not just plastic, which is a very popular form of marine debris. And we also address debris in all its sizes, so from abandoned and derelict vessels to derelict fishing gear on down to microplastics.

Amy V. Uhrin (00:03:24):

So this is a high-level list of the activities that our program engages in as a result of the language in the two acts. Many of these I've touched upon briefly already, but we see here the national and regional coordination leading the Interagency Coordination Committee. We maintain the Marine Debris Clearing House, which is a publicly accessible online database of all projects funded by the program. Specifically has been called out to work on derelict fishing gear, which we do. Talked about outreach and education, the timely response to severe marine debris events, like hurricanes and tsunamis. We do a lot of international engagements. And probably what we're most well-known for is that we do carry out three different grant competitions on a rotating basis. So a common misconception about the program is that we are a field and analytical laboratory, which we are not. We rely on our partners for those capabilities.

Amy V. Uhrin (00:04:30):

So to accomplish these goals and actions, we have a modest staff organized as follows. So underneath our director we have a deputy, which she currently serves as our comms team lead at the moment, and you can see she has a handful of staff under her addressing various aspects of communication. We have the science team, which is comprised of myself and my research coordinator. We have an emergency response coordinator who also serves as the East Coast team lead. And underneath him are several regional staff located in the areas that you can see listed there, and he also manages a couple of folks to assist with the emergency response stuff. Out on the West Coast in Seattle, we've got a West Coast team lead who also serves as the Pacific Northwest regional coordinator, and he's got a handful of staff under him for all of the Pacific regional coordinators.

Amy V. Uhrin (00:05:29):

So our regional coordinators is really a big component of our program. You can see they're stationed across the country, and they provide expertise on the ground and they coordinate with partners in those regions. And one of their big things is also to facilitate the creation of regional action plans. And then lastly we've got an international activities and partnership coordinator and the cooperative agreement specialist, who is the gentleman that handles all of our grants.

Amy V. Uhrin (00:05:58):

Since this webinar is focused on research, I'm just going to briefly highlight some of our recent research work. And so in odd fiscal years, we host the research grant competition. So we had a competition in fiscal years '17 and '19. The research priorities for those two calls were identical, and they included the following, which you see on the slide here, focused on risk assessment and exposure response studies, consideration of fate and transport of marine debris, particularly in nearshore and coastal environments, and also a habitat impact priority.

Amy V. Uhrin (00:06:36):

So in even years, we still do fund projects at our discretion. And in this year, we happen to be working with the National Academies of Science to conduct a study that will evaluate basically U.S. contributions to plastic waste in our own waterways, through mismanaged waste, and also an examination of U.S. import and export plastic waste. And then as I mentioned, FY 21 will be a research grant cycle year. Our program is also currently working on updating our strategic plan. That will be forthcoming probably at the end of this calendar year. So it's a five-year plan that we're in the throws of right now.

Amy V. Uhrin (00:07:18):

And then lastly, I wanted to highlight and mention our Marine Debris Monitoring & Assessment Project, which is a citizen science initiative that engages partner organizations and volunteers across the nation in completing shoreline marine debris surveys using protocols that were developed by our program. There's an online publicly accessible database where these partners can upload their data and then the public actually has access to it. You can see the link at the bottom for more information about the monitoring project. We currently have about 400 sites in our database.

Amy V. Uhrin (00:07:54):

So that's just a quick summary of our program, given that a lot of you are familiar with us and what we do. And so I'm going to stop sharing and kick it over to Wayne McFee, who is also in NOS. He's at the National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science. He's down in Charleston, South Carolina, at the Center for Coastal Environmental Health and Biomolecular Research.

Wayne McFee (00:08:19):

Well, thank you again for inviting me to this. I'm going to present to you some information about NCCOS and our marine debris capabilities. I'm with the Special Detection and Impact Division at NCCOS, specifically in the Key Species and Bioinformatics Branch, and I've been the lead for the Coastal Marine Mammal Assessments Program for a while now.

Wayne McFee (00:08:50):

Our mission statement at NCCOS is to deliver ecosystem science solutions for stewardship of the nation's ocean and coastal resources to sustain thriving coastal communities and economies. We specifically support [ORNR 00:09:05] programs, in particular the RESTORE Science Program and Competitive Research Program. We do have focus areas in Harmful Algal Bloom and Hypoxia Research and Control, or HABHRCA, Mussel Watch, Marine Spatial Ecology, Stressor Detection and Impacts, Coastal Change, and Social Science. So it's a pretty diverse group of people.

Wayne McFee (00:09:36):

Our interests in marine debris fall basically into microplastics and key species. In particular, enumeration in cetaceans, those are your whales and dolphins, bivalves, and corals using both place-based and regional studies and looking at the effects on the biota, in particular phthalates and persistent organic pollutants. We also are interested in microplastics in the sediments and water and classification and enumeration of those as well. We have done a fair amount of work with macroplastics and ALDFG or abandoned, lost, discarded fishing gear. In particular, within entanglement and ingestion with cetaceans, the fouling of aquaculture, derelict trap detection, and the detection following storms and disasters.

Wayne McFee (00:10:45):

Our activities related to marine debris are, again, enumerating and characterization of microplastics in water and sediment; the analytical chemistry of phthalates and persistent organic pollutants; ecotoxicology testing of acute and chronic effects of microplastic ingestion in estuarine organisms, and that includes both invertebrates and vertebrates; the enumeration characterization of microplastics in marine mammal GI tracts; the geographical differences in microplastic burden in marine mammals; again, monitoring marine debris entanglement and ingestion prevalence; and then the derelict trap detection, trap fouling rates, decomposition, and resource impacts; and then the surveillance of shellfish aquaculture debris.

Wayne McFee (00:11:47):

And just to give you an [crosstalk 00:11:48] example of a couple of these in the marine debris detection. The use of AUVs in U.S. Virgin Islands for derelict fish trap detection. It was a two-week pilot project, receives partial funding from the NOAA Marine Debris Program. Our aquaculture program has an AquaDebris side of that using drone technology for surveilling shellfish aquaculture debris and mainly from aquaculture sites that have been abandoned or taken down but still leave debris in the water. The use of drones has been helpful in detecting those places.

Wayne McFee (00:12:44):

And then the monitoring marine debris entanglement and ingestion. Obviously, we get a lot of plastic bags in stomachs, so deep diving cetaceans, but also your coastal dolphins occasionally get entangled in marine debris, such as packing straps and other fishing lines and so forth that pass by.

Wayne McFee (00:13:08):

We have a fair number of publications. This is a few of them. In particular, we did attend at least one workshop with the Marine Debris Program in North Carolina and... have been instrumental in helping with the Southeast Marine Debris Action Plan, especially with the wildlife section of that. We did put together a few great papers for the Marine Debris Program a few years ago. In particular, ones with the Impacts on Coastal and Benthic Habitats, Marine Debris as a Potential Pathway for Invasive Species, Entanglement of Marine Species in Marine Debris, and The Occurrence and Health Effects of Anthropogenic Debris Ingested by Marine Organisms. And then we've had a couple of graduate students [crosstalk 00:14:12] that have worked on microplastics, such as this one in the gut of a bottlenose dolphin, and also looking at-

Speaker 3 (00:14:21):

Yeah, she is...

Wayne McFee (00:14:21):

... Effects of Polyethylene Microbeads on Hard Clams, so-

Speaker 3 (00:14:25):

The Great Lakes regional lead.

Wayne McFee (00:14:28):


Amy V. Uhrin (00:14:29):

If you guys could mute yourself, we can hear you, whoever is talking about the Great Lakes. [crosstalk 00:14:39] Okay, Wayne.

Wayne McFee (00:14:39):

Thank you. So we have a fair number of publications and workshops that we've attended in the past. Not much regulatory work has been done, as far as I could tell. The agriculture program has worked for the State of Florida Aquaculture Debris working with best management practices down there and have done some work that I believe is non-regulatory for North Carolina as well. Our international activities, as far as I could tell, were we did present at the Sixth International Marine Debris Conference and also did write a paper with a number of international researchers from France, Italy, Greece, Norway, Australia, and Mexico on marine litter and megafauna that was published in the Marine Pollution Bulletin last year. So that's the extent of the international activities that I could find.

Wayne McFee (00:15:53):

So our resources, we've got a lot of resources, as far as I can tell, especially in the realm of drones and AUVs, UASs, a lot of acoustic sonar capabilities, lidar. We do have, for microplastics, a number of sieves that go down to 75 micrometers. We've got stacked sieve shakers, filtration manifolds and pumps. We do have a necropsy lab for wildlife. We have stereo and epiflourescent microscopes. We have a mesocosm toxicity facility where we could potentially dose those systems with things like phthalates to see how the fish and shrimp respond to those introduced into the system. Plenty of imaging software, vessels, and archived samples, and we do have a high performance server farm.

Wayne McFee (00:16:59):

Our expertise is pretty wide-ranged as well, especially in the chemical realm. We have expertise in environmental sample collection for both wildlife and water; debris characterization as well, both with chemical analysis of phthalates and POPs and spectroscopy as well; Cloud based computing; geospatial predictive modeling. We do have capability for advanced AI and machine learning for automation; commercial and NTM satellite imagery; Of course the UxSs, acoustic sonar and lidar acquisition, processing and analysis; hazard, exposure, risk assessment; and imagery analysis. So quite a broad range that we use within NCCOS.

Wayne McFee (00:17:57):

Some opportunities or needs for interagency collaboration, one of the things that we found is that we really need to get the use or the purchase of a micro-Raman or an FTIR. FTIRs are pretty easy to find out there, but the micro-Ramans are less so. They're pretty expensive, but if you really want to determine what constitutes the plastics that you're seeing, the microplastics you're seeing, you need to be able to go below one millimeter or some of them down the 500 micrometers, but we'd like to go lower than that as well. So that's one thing.

Wayne McFee (00:18:46):

The expertise, there's some thought of getting some expertise from the EPA, particularly with contaminants potentially entering the food chain via microplastics. We probably need some more expertise in that area. As far as joint coordinated activities and research, there was suggestion of plastic pollution monitoring for Great Lakes Mussel Watch Program and also needed research for organ system effects of ingested plastics. There were some workshops or meetings. There's a need for literature review for state of knowledge of microplastics. I'm not sure whether that's been done or not. I think it's been done somewhat, at least on an international scale, regarding macroplastics. I'm not sure microplastics.

Wayne McFee (00:19:50):

There's a need to have a national mapping effort for marine debris hotspots and to update the National Geodetic Survey emergency response imagery and aerial damage assessments to include the marine aquaculture imagery that NCCOS can provide. International outreach, there's a need for broader coordination with wildlife issues, technological advancement, and the detection and monitoring. I think everyone would agree with sample processing and collection, there needs to be a way to standardize the processing and collection of debris, and in particular, microdebris. And then database development and maintenance and the coordination with other agencies on wildlife effects and data management.

Wayne McFee (00:20:52):

I was fortunate enough to work with some of you, marine debris groups, Demi and Jason, to help us get at least some movement with the marine mammal community and getting marine debris actually placed onto their data sheet so it would be easier to access when we do searches on that. And so hopefully we can continue to do that with other wildlife acts, like sea turtles and what have you. But data management is always a place where we need to coordinate our efforts on, I think, with any of this.

Wayne McFee (00:21:35):

I think that's about all I have. I hope I haven't taken up too much time.

Amy V. Uhrin (00:21:40):

Next up is Ebenezer Nyadjro.

Ebenezer Nyadjro (00:21:44):


Amy V. Uhrin (00:21:44):

And Ebenezer is from the National Centers for Environmental Information.

Ebenezer Nyadjro (00:21:50):

All right. Thank you. So good afternoon and, yeah, thanks for inviting us. So here at NCEI, we trying to create a microplastic database and this work we've been doing with collaborators listed down below out of NOAA-NCEI. And this is a wider innovative project from NCEI and those innovative projects are to allow EPO and NCEI to be able to come up with innovating ways of doing science or activities that are of interest to NCEI, NOAA, as in general.

Ebenezer Nyadjro (00:22:28):

So our interest in this... NCEI, as we know, is the nation's primary archive for environmental information; and its mandate is to preserve, monitor, assess, and provide public access to the nation's geophysical data. And the reason for doing this is to ensure that you have very good, well quality control data that will be publicly freely available to allow scientists, policymakers, and whoever is interested to be able to assess data, to do environmental research, and be able to advise the public. And because we've doing this over and over the years, we've built a lot of capacity in this field and it's the nation's leading authority. NCEI has over 25 petabytes of comprehensive data on all aspects of the environment. That's from the ocean, land, even to space. So there a lot of data on these and there a lot of parameters that we measure and we archive for the government or the public.

Ebenezer Nyadjro (00:23:27):

So on this slide, we show just some of the capabilities that we have in terms of data stewardship, and we do everything from long-term preservational just basic data. We also archive raw data. We have data that we've quality controlled and then we derive product from them, which make it easier for whoever want to use that, depending on... There are some people that may be interested in the raw data or then some that may be interested in products that address temperature or ocean heat contents. So oceanic contents, in that sense, would be a derived product.

Ebenezer Nyadjro (00:24:05):

So we've seen our capability and our ability to do all these things over the years, and given the increasing interest in marine debris status and more specifically microplastic, we thought this was also an avenue for us to bring that data to the public and to the community to create a one-stop shop for all information that is on microplastic. We didn't want to go too much into the broad field of marine debris because we believe that is already done. But if you look around, there's not one single place that you're going to find extensive data on microplastics. And this makes decision-making sometimes very difficult because we don't know how much is there, where they coming from, where they going to end up, and then you're not able also to model them to be able to forecast future occurrences and the consequence of these occurrences. So that's where NCEI's interest has been, just leveraging our work and abilities in creating all of these databases and then adding marine microplastics to it.

Ebenezer Nyadjro (00:25:05):

We already have some complimentary data that we've already archived, like the Global Ocean Current Database and the World Ocean Database. And these contain information on ocean currents, the speeds, the sources, and all that. We have products that are monthly basis and climatology basis. We've been doing this for regional as well as entire globe. So, for example, we have ocean current or data or temperature or salinity for, say, the Gulf of Mexico or the Northwestern United States. So we believe if we able to archive this microplastic information and add it to what we already have, we are going to have extensive database that serves the needs of various communities.

Ebenezer Nyadjro (00:25:47):

For example, there may be people who are just interested in seeing the sources of plastics and they will have access to that. Then, as I mentioned earlier, like [inaudible 00:25:54] are interested in knowing the effective characteristics of plastics, be able to know where the sources are and those things. So if we have all this data and database mapped onto a common platform or a common unit, say, we put them in a uniform grid, anybody who goes to grab the microplastic information can easily grab the current data as well and be able to put that together and be able to tell a more meaningful story than getting the current from somewhere else and going to get the microplastic data from another place. So these are the force that draw interest in and what we are most interested in with regard to marine microplastics.

Ebenezer Nyadjro (00:26:34):

So as I mentioned in my introductory slide, this an innovate project and so it means it's something we starting from the scratch. We currently do not have this done already. But as we've been building databases, we have the experience and the know-how in these areas, so we have the expertise to do this. So basically we've been contacting people from everywhere, both local and foreign. We go through the literature on microplastics. We see where that have been done, does that contain data sets that we think are extensive enough or we could do something meaningful with. We contact them and then we try and get the data to be able to put into this database. So this project started just this January, so we are now in our third month. So it's very, very at the initial stages.

Ebenezer Nyadjro (00:27:19):

So I'm in contact with our colleagues or other scientists who are doing this research. When they provide their data, we go to their data and we try to standardize them because, as we know and as we mentioned in this presentation, there's no standardized way of doing these measurements or reporting the results. So one thing we try to do is to figure out what the best way to be to report the result that will make most sense to most people that will get it. So once we get this, we put everything together. We do some quality controls. The next stage in what we're doing is to start building the database. So all this we put into a database. We now control all the raw files that we've received and we also thinking of developing products from them also where we try to create products for regions that of interest. Let's say the Pacific marine patch where you have a lot of microplastics aggregating. We could create specific product for those regions as well as global.

Ebenezer Nyadjro (00:28:21):

And what our interests also intend to be doing in this is, as we already in the data provision business, we also in the business of engaging the public and the community in information services relating to environment. So as we do our outreach and stuff like that, we also educate our community on microplastics. So once we build this database and it becomes part of it, we able to drum home the effects that microplastics are having on our environment and more especially our aquatic ecosystem.

Ebenezer Nyadjro (00:28:51):

Another interest that we have, aside from building all this data product, is to see whether we could go into the field of developing microplastic sensor measurement. And why this is the case, we realize that often when we produce the data search and we don't use it as NCEI and just as a public user, we wait until we get feedback from them. And it's not always that you get those feedback. So as part of creating a database, we also try to use that data ourself to answer some scientific questions. And that way, once we use it, we get a firsthand feel of what the end user will be feeling. So we able to address some of the issues that may arise or are likely to arise even before the end users get back to us.

Ebenezer Nyadjro (00:29:31):

And the reason why we want to go into this field is because it's very difficult to have extensive database on plastics because mostly you have to go out to sea to collect this data. And as we know, this very expensive thing to do. So the sensors that we trying to develop or first use some of the database we already have. For example, algae and all that, go to some areas and see whether we can remotely measure this. So this is one area that we studied recently and we talking to some interested groups with the possibility of getting some funds.

Ebenezer Nyadjro (00:30:04):

NCEI also have a very strong strength in ArcGIS where the data that we collect, we create data from maps and aqua maps, which allows people to go out, be able to move their mouse around these maps, they get information from the regions they interested in. They can click and then just get that plot. For example, map plots or histograms or stuff like that, which help them to better understand it.

Ebenezer Nyadjro (00:30:28):

So we believe if we are going to aggregate microplastic datas and create ArcGIS files like we've done with other data sites, it shouldn't be just the scientists or those who are trained in that field who will be able to use it, just quote, unquote, the citizens or citizen scientists generally. So people are just interested in seeing, for example, what the microplastic issue in that area looks like, they can just move a mouse on a map and they'll be able to get that information. So these are some of the things that we have been doing.

Ebenezer Nyadjro (00:30:57):

Our strengths and our expertise in this field is limitless. We've been doing this for years and we've built a lot of expertise in this. We have the database tools. We have the ArcGIS tools. We also have the IT infrastructure, very large servers and then storage. We are now into cloud computing, artificial intelligence, and new technologies that help us to optimize data in this creation and making data accessible to the community. We have the expertise in correlating data. We have wide network of both local and international partners where we able to get in touch with them and ask... they also colleagues interested in public science or making data available to the community. They give that data to us, just as we also give their data to us.

Ebenezer Nyadjro (00:31:46):

So we already have some connection in the other folks that we've been using. And in creating the microplastic database, we reaching out to some of them. So the network is already there and we just adding this to it and then trying to expand it to be able to get data to create a microplastic database.

Ebenezer Nyadjro (00:32:03):

Our archiving services are one of the top-notch across the world because we able to support very different data types. So we don't limit ourselves to, say, just NetCDF or binary files, no. We have a very wide range. And as I said, we have the expertise to be able to use these data. And the good thing with that is we able to reach out to a whole lot of people, different people using different instrument, doing measurements in different units, and we able to take all these, standardize them, put them into a form that is easy to access and easy to use to the community. And we've also built expertise in technologies that help to easily retrieve and access data. So data query techniques that optimizes the ability to look for particular data that you're looking for in a long chunk of data files. As I mentioned, we have about 25 petabytes of data. That's very huge. So if someone goes out there and is looking for information, they don't want to stay long. So they want to get what they want as quickly as possible, and we built all these tools that'll help people to do it.

Ebenezer Nyadjro (00:33:08):

So we intend to bring these same tools also to the microplastic project, which will allow people to set forward the particular products that they're looking for. So once we able to get the data and we able to separate them into their different forms that are common in the literature, someone can go and grab the entire data set or just what they are interested in.

Ebenezer Nyadjro (00:33:30):

Opportunities and needs for interagency collaboration is very important because this is a new field we going in. The microplastic issue, though, is a global issue. It's still quite young. There's not much information out there. There's a lot we need to do. So there's a need to actually build very, very strong collaborations with the community. And much as people go out and collect data, everybody will be waiting to give out their data, which was sometimes understandable because they spend a lot of time to write proposal, get grant, and all that. And they would like to publish as much as they can from it before they put it out there. So we understand that. But if we also able to build strong connections and network, it will help us to better get information that we need from them to be able to create this platform. And as I said, this is not existent. There's no big platform where you can go and access microplastic information, and that's why we trying to create this.

Ebenezer Nyadjro (00:34:28):

So we believe if we sell them this and the idea, and the fact that we've been archiving and making information available to the community over a long time, maybe they will buy into it and help us in that direction. Therefore, we have the need to build collaboration. So with all of us on this webinar, if you can share your contacts or connections and sell the message out to your contacts that you have, that if they have microplastic data, they could please send it our way to help us to build this database.

Ebenezer Nyadjro (00:34:57):

And so we interested in building that collaboration. We interested in sharing that data that we'll be getting with the community. And we have the expertise to be able to deglove these and put it out there and create it. Probably there may be some people out there who may be interested in doing this, but I believe that we have the strongest ability to create this, based on our track record.

Ebenezer Nyadjro (00:35:19):

And just a little bit of the science that we interested in doing. As I mentioned, developing microplastic sensor measurements. On this slide here, we also mentioned the Raman Spectrometer. That is an instrument that you need if you want to go into this field, and it's expensive, as we also mentioned. But what we are trying to do is to see if we can also develop other tools outside this radian. So, for example, we thinking of going to take origin from Gulf of Mexico where we go out, collect some water samples, bring it into the lab, carry out some experiment, and try to see whether we able to identify the spectral signatures that allow us to identify microplastics.

Ebenezer Nyadjro (00:36:02):

So spectral signatures are the unique characteristics of objects. So say you fly a drone over a farm. You should be able to tell maize from a sunflower because it will emit a unique radiation, which, if you look on the bottom right, that's a plot that's showing. So that's... the height at which the signature that that made is what you would use to identify the object. So we want to know similar information for microplastics, and we believe that would be the basis for that bigger measuring technologies, like Spaceborne satellite. For now, this what we want to do. We believe once we able to get that and build on that, together with all the information, such as ocean currents that we've already archived at NCEI, we'll be able to help ourself and other interested scientists in a numerical modeling and prediction of directive properties and tracking of microplastics in the ocean.

Ebenezer Nyadjro (00:36:57):

So this just a brief of what we've been doing and we looking forward to collaborating with other interested groups. Thank you.

Amy V. Uhrin (00:37:07):

Great. Thanks, Ebenezer. I appreciate that. So next up is Joaquin.

Joaquin Trinanes (00:37:14):

Perfect. Thank you very much.

Amy V. Uhrin (00:37:16):


Joaquin Trinanes (00:37:16):

Well, thank you for giving me the opportunity to present our capabilities here at this webinar. I will describe the work we made at Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory in Miami, ocean debris related efforts. Additionally, as operations manager of the CoastWatch Caribbean & Gulf of Mexico Regional Node and Atlantic OceanWatch node, both of them located at AOML. [inaudible 00:37:46] of lines, so initiatives related to ocean debris focus mostly on common methodologies involving the nodes. Next slide please.

Joaquin Trinanes (00:37:55):

So the Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory is a major player for the collection and distribution of global oceanographic and meteorological data sets. AOML supports different ocean serving systems. The research conducted at AOML aligns, of course, with NOAA mission and with the office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research where... the Global Ocean Observing System consist of a number of components. We have there drifting buoys, moored buoys, shipboard observations, gliders. So AOML contributes to many of these critical components and we manage, including performing the quality control and distribute the data that they provide.

Joaquin Trinanes (00:38:54):

At AOML, we house the U.S. Argo Data Assembly Center. That contributes to maintain the Atlantic component of the array. We also have the XBT and the Ship-of-Opportunity networks. Also, AOML is leading an international effort to create an array of underwater gliders that collect observations, including surface currents. So these observations from the gliders intend to improve hurricane intensification, but they also provide very useful current information.

Joaquin Trinanes (00:39:41):

And finally, we also host the Global Drifter Program that provides measurements of surface currents, temperature, and waves that we, for our purpose, we focus more on the surface currents. So AOML leads the international effort to maintain the global array housing the data assembly center, performing the quality control of the data, distributes the data, and produce. Like, for example, the surface current climatologists. You can see that AOML is organized in three research divisions, the Physical Oceanography, the Ocean Chemistry & Ecosystems, and the Hurricane Research division. Next slide, please.

Joaquin Trinanes (00:40:35):

But I will also talk about the CoastWatch and OceanWatch program, specifically the nodes at AOML. This program that is managed by NESDIS and consists of two main components. Central Operations, that is located in D.C., and also Regional Nodes that are located in other NOAA line offices. OAR participates in the CoastWatch and OceanWatch nodes located in Miami at AOML.

Joaquin Trinanes (00:41:04):

So one of the main objectives of this program is to provide data and to provide tools for scientists, but also to general public to better understand the physical, biological, and chemical compresses in the ocean. So as part of this effort, we make available near real time and historical satellite data sets. Many of them, they have a global coverage, but we also provide data from models, in situ field observations, and we use interoperable tools. Like, for example, treads, [inaudible 00:41:45], and also we provide a visualization environment that we name OceanViewer. Next slide, please.

Joaquin Trinanes (00:41:55):

So there are many reasons why we're interested in marine debris. The adverse effects of marine debris in the marine environment are many and obvious for you. So we are very interested to determine the source base on previous history of currents and winds, and we also want to predict the trajectory, the future trajectory. So there are many applications for this type of information. So it's very important to know how currents, winds, and the shape and weight of the object, its buoyancy, for example, and other characteristics. Thinking about, for example, the connection with other particles. So it's interesting to know how they affect the trajectories.

Joaquin Trinanes (00:42:47):

So these results could be applied for other purposes. For example, we're very interested in modeling sargassum trajectories. This is very important for preventing and for studying what we call sargassum inundation events. Probably you know that since 2011, lush amounts of sargassum are costing and costing fortune to economic, environment, and health impacts in the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico regions. So we consider that it's very important to have the capability of predicting these inundation events, but also to be able to backtrack the sargassum accumulations. Next slide, please.

Joaquin Trinanes (00:43:35):

So, as I mentioned before, AOML hosts the Drifter Operations Center and the Drifter Assembly Center of the Global Drifter Program. So drifters provide direct information on surface currents. For drogue drifters, this information centers at 15 meter, but many of the drifters are really lost, they drogue, so that means that they were similar, the characteristics and behavior of real debris because they provide the surface currents. But real debris differs in buoyancy, weight, shape, size. So AOML is conducting experiments in Atlantic with synthetic drifters. We call them synthetic drifters with different shapes and buoyancies.

Joaquin Trinanes (00:44:27):

We also include a type that simulates a bit of sargassum. So they have a GPS providing the location information several times per day, usually every six hours, but it can read every hour. We can configure that. What we want to know is how ocean dynamics and winds affect the trajectories and within that experiment provide a better understanding of the trajectory in the ocean of floating debris.

Joaquin Trinanes (00:45:04):

On the other hand, CoastWatch has been providing current information. Most are 15 years. They are basically estimated. You seen a bit data... this is one of the data sets that we originally distribute at the node. And it's a very popular approach because it's been used for all operations, sailing, fishing. Additionally, we developed the prototype of online debris simulation tour that implements a methodology that is described in one of the papers that I will mention in the next slide. So basically, you can select the area. It can be a point or rectangular or circular, polygon, and the user can also select the number of particles. How often they are releasing this is not a single event. What is the windage of their range of windages to be apply. Also, if the simulation is forward in time or backward.

Joaquin Trinanes (00:46:11):

So this is still a prototype, but we are really test the interface with GPUs, with graphical processing units, having thousands, of course. With this approach, we can simulate on the fly hundreds and thousands of particles. So with sargassum, we are implementing procedures to detect it from satellite data. So we use a number of sensors in generating information about the location of sargassum, this is the first step for implementing a forecast approach.

Joaquin Trinanes (00:46:50):

So all this work is made in collaboration with University of Miami, University of South Florida. Also, the CARICOOS, the Caribbean Coastal Ocean Observing System is involved, IOCARIBE, and also the Sargasso Network, SARGNET. Next slide, please.

Joaquin Trinanes (00:47:07):

Well, here we show some key publications. The publication I mentioned in the previous slide is number five and proposing a new methodology for debris tracking. This paper was awarded three years ago the Denny Medal to the Best Paper of the Year in the Journal of Operational Oceanography. But we currently have some other papers under review. You see data from the experiments I mentioned. The first paper in the list has been just published few weeks ago in Physics of Fluids and shows the simulation of real trajectories using Maxey-Riley Theory. It's just a set of differential equations that take into account the size and the buoyancy of the particles. The second paper, you can see there is OceanObs19, a community-wide paper, the second in the list, about design implementation of an integrated marine debris observing system. Next slide, please.

Joaquin Trinanes (00:48:17):

So all the data from the Global Drifter Program is available from our databases. Data also from the other programs, like the Argo gliders, are also available. Additional, we also distribute satellite products for CoastWatch and OceanWatch. Many of these products are available on globally scale, but they are also the specific products original, basin scales. Also, we are familiar with a operational processing of massive data sets, the development of new algorithms, and we work on improving the modeling of trajectories. And we're currently applying machine learning techniques for many different purposes from estimating global carbon fluxes to generating new satellite products. You can see that the fjord at the top right shows the trajectories of the synthetic drifters I mentioned before. As you can see, they were released over the Tropical and Subtropical Atlantic.

Joaquin Trinanes (00:49:21):

I forgot to mention that some of them correspond to real sargassum. So you can see some trajectories in orange. Near Panama, they correspond to a certain rescue operation to locate the remains of a plane that disappeared more than 50 years ago. So we're relaying information about where the life vest were recovered in order to infer the location of the crash. The fjord at the bottom right is a good look of the trajectory simulation interface showing, in this case, the density of particles. They can be animated and you can, for example, overlay the trajectories and location of the particles. Next slide, please.

Joaquin Trinanes (00:50:17):

Well, finally, some areas where we could benefit from interagency collaboration. On one hand, we need field data for validating our algorithms and products. For example, we are currently designing a database with in-situ sargassum observations. We are integrating data from several database besides the in-house data that we have at AOML. So we need to make these data set very much larger, having access to additional data, especially historical data. Also, we are now starting processing very high resolution satellite products. I'm talking about products at 10, 20 meter resolution [inaudible 00:51:02]. The objective is to better track sargassum in coastal areas.

Joaquin Trinanes (00:51:09):

Additionally, we are also a participating in several efforts to migrate our system to the Cloud. With sargassum, we need better information about the effects that temperature, salinity, nutrients, viability have in the different species of sargassum, how they interact and affect the coastal ecosystem. New ways to apply machine learning, artificial intelligent technologies in this context.

Joaquin Trinanes (00:51:46):

Other aspects to take into account are the integration of different data sets that usually are managed individually in a way that we can improve the sargassum inundation reports by adding them, for example, the high resolution products. As part of the outreach activities and in collaboration with universities and associations, we participate in a series of satellite courses where we provide scientists and students with the tools and the techniques to incorporate satellite data, mostly satellite data in today's research and projects. And these courses include lectures and also practical labs. So we intend to organize more of these activities in the near future, and we plan to incorporate material related to ocean debris.

Joaquin Trinanes (00:52:41):

And that's all. Thank you.

Amy V. Uhrin (00:52:45):

Great. Thank you, Joaquin. Thank you very much. We'll go right to Kelly who is with OAR Climate Program Office, the Ocean Observing and Monitoring Division.

Kelly Suhre (00:52:56):

Right. Thank you very much, Amy. So I am the Acting Deputy Director of the Global Ocean Monitoring and Observing Program. What you just heard from Amy is that the reality is technically we are still the Ocean Observing and Monitoring Division within the climate program office. But hopefully by the end of this month, our approval as part of the OAR reorganization to be our own office will be complete and have gone through; and by next month, we can officially be called the Global Ocean Monitoring and Observing Program or GOMO.

Kelly Suhre (00:53:26):

And GOMO is the U.S. federal source and international leader for sustained institute global ocean observation and information in support of research, monitoring, and prediction. And our mission is to support and provide high-quality global ocean observing research to improve our scientific understanding and inform society about the ocean's role in environmental change.

Kelly Suhre (00:53:52):

And GOMO has several interests in marine debris and related observations. The observing systems we support are already providing critical data and products for informing and understanding marine debris studies, and you'll hear more about those systems here shortly. GOMO is also an active member of the national and international observing community and continues to hear strong interest by the community in marine debris related observations. So while there's still major questions that need to be both identified and addressed in this sphere, our program is interested in incorporating marine debris collection and monitoring into the Global Ocean Observing System.

Kelly Suhre (00:54:31):

So what is the Global Ocean Observing System? This is a coordinated network of high-quality sustained global observations and information that are routinely provided for climate, for weather, and for environmental services. Activities and networks that comprise GOOS include moored arrays, drifters, floats, and repeat shipboard and autonomous surveys. You'll hear more about these during my presentation. And through GOMO and our partnerships, the U.S. actually supports about 50% of the Global Ocean Observing System.

Kelly Suhre (00:55:02):

So we have extensive international collaborations and partnerships around the globe supporting these activities. I'm not going to detail all of these partnerships today, but know that our reach is extensive and we're happy to discuss these and to help make connections, as appropriate. And related, GOMO is taking a leading role in engaging on the UN Decade on Ocean Science. We were one of the hosts of the 2019 Ocean Observations Conference, which is helping to inform U.S. input into the Decade. And we have a good representative working with UN to proactively engage and identify how GOMO activities can and should best support the UN Decade. Our program managers and partners also participate in regional meetings related to the UN Decade and have noted that marine debris and microplastics has repeatedly come up as a hot topic in many of these recent regional meetings.

Kelly Suhre (00:55:53):

NOAA's Arctic Research Program is also part of our office, and we support the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme or AMAP. This is one of six working groups that work under the direction of and report to the Arctic Council. And their mission is to monitor and assess pollution and climate change issues in the Arctic, and they produce assessments to inform policy and decision-making. And notably, AMAP is developing a monitoring plan for microplastics and litter in Arctic waters. And NOAA's liaison and representative to AMAP is Ben DeAngelo. He's the head of the delegation for the U.S. and regularly sends out AMAP agendas in advance of meetings. He asks for input on issues to raise and is the most appropriate contact to discuss interest. So we could certainly raise those for you or put you in touch with him if that is of interest. And in terms of publications, the one key thing that has really come out of our program is that one of our major annual products is the Arctic Report Card, and our 2019 report card included an essay on microplastics in Arctic marine realms with an emphasis on sea ice.

Kelly Suhre (00:56:59):

So moving on to our capabilities, where I'll spend most of my time today, is one of the networks supported by GOMO are the OceanSITES Reference Stations. So this is a global system of long-term, open ocean, fixed moorings that monitor air-sea interactions and acquire subsurface data down to the seafloor as deep as 5,000 meters. So the surface data collection includes wind speed, direction, temperature, barometric pressure, solar radiation, carbon dioxide, humidity, and precipitation. And I have solar radiation highlighted here because I understand that this is important in helping to inform what the ocean surface is experiencing, which can help inform plastic breakdown and fragmentation.

Kelly Suhre (00:57:43):

Subsurface data includes current speed and direction as well as PCO2, CTD data, and a current meter. And surface mixing through wind speed and wind direction combined with current speed and velocity can really help inform processes related to mixing that are relevant for marine debris studies. The acquisition of data down to 5,000 meters may also provide opportunities for data collection on deep sea marine environments of interest to the Marine Debris Program or marine debris studies. And we did want to highlight that one of these sites, one of these moorings, the WHOTS site, W hot site, is complimented by HOTS monthly hydrocast, which measures CTD, nutrients, current speed, and direction. Those have been conducted since the 1990s, and our program manager thought that there may be an opportunity to partner with University of Hawaii for potential repeat plastic surveys as part of this collaboration. So that's offshore of Hawaii, and if that's of interest, please reach out and let us know.

Kelly Suhre (00:58:44):

And we also conduct annual service cruises to several of these reference stations that may be able to host surveys of opportunity for marine debris related projects or sampling. And just to give you a sense, this map shows the breadth of the locations of the OceanSITES reference stations. NOAA does not support all of these, but the map does show where the physical infrastructure and surveying reside.

Kelly Suhre (00:59:09):

So through GOMO, NOAA supports 50% of all Argo floats globally with an emphasis on floats in remote and challenging environments. Argo and other platforms provide background ocean information that can strain all large-scale ocean models and analysis. These floats are deployed in the open ocean and they conduct repeat 10-day cycles. They acquire surface data, dive down to 1,000 meters for 10 days, then dive down to 2,000 meters, or in the case of Deep Argo, 6,000 meters, and back up to the surface before transmitting data back to the satellite and repeating.

Kelly Suhre (00:59:46):

The data depends on the type of float, and you can see the three different types listed here, the Core, the BGC, and the Deep, but all include salinity, temperature, and current data. And the BGC, or Biogeochemical float acquire additional data types. But relevant to the Marine Debris Program, this capability consistently provides current information at 1,000 meter steps. It provides some insight into bottom circulation and futures and the products that we produce can include trajectory maps for each float if that data is of interest. And this map is, again, just to briefly show the breadth and geographic spread of the Argo floats, and the dark green dots are the ones that are run by the U.S.

Kelly Suhre (01:00:34):

All right. Next is the Global Drifter Program. You've just heard quite a bit about this through Joaquin. We do work with and support AOML's efforts here. This program is part of the broader Global Ocean Observing System, and the Global Drifter Program is comprised of 1500 Lagrangian floats. They're deployed in the open ocean and drift at the surface with the current. The data from these drifters provide real time and historical surface current and circulation information and wave data that help inform marine debris studies. And traditionally, this program has been focused on collecting data to inform climate, but we are now moving towards informing human impacts in extreme events and are interested in discussing collaboration opportunities. And in preparation for this meeting and presentation, a couple that we identified include that if it's a NOAA priority, we could deploy global drifters in debris fields to tie them to large scale events and track the transfer path of large scale debris.

Kelly Suhre (01:01:33):

These drifters are traditionally deployed in the open ocean, but could also be deployed coastally to track the flow of debris from coastal environments to the open ocean and other remote locations. And also noting that we recognize that scientific equipment that's not recovered can contribute to the marine debris problem, and we're actively pursuing eco-friendly options and solutions. So, for example, right now we're working with SCRIPPS to explore development of a new biodegradable resin hull for the hull of these drifters. And this is just a quick view of the geographic spread of the drifters, and the NOAA drifters are dark blue.

Kelly Suhre (01:02:13):

So GOMO also supports the U.S. GO-SHIP program, which is a globally coordinated network of repeat, ship-based hydrographic measurements. And the advantage of this program is that they conduct full water column data collection, sampling, and analysis. I'll show you the global survey lines here shortly. And GOMO and NSF jointly are responsible for the U.S. lines. And these surveys are conducted once a decade and conduct hydrographic surveys and measurements of the full water column. The data provide inventories of heat, freshwater, carbon, oxygen, nutrients, and transient tracers.

Kelly Suhre (01:02:49):

And the data sets are categorized as level 1, 2, and 3. So level 1 data are required and all cruises have to collect those data sets. Level 2 is highly desired. Level 3 is ancillary. And there may be a potential, for example, for marine debris measurements to be added as a level 2 or 3. NOAA supports about a cruise annually in the Atlantic and Pacific as part of GO-SHIP and the Marine Debris Program could consider paying for additional days at sea on these cruises to support additional cast or sample collections if that's interested. And this is just a quick map to show the location of the Decadal survey lines, and these are color-coded by country.

Kelly Suhre (01:03:30):

The Arctic Research Program, which is part of GOMO, supports EcoFOCI and the Distributed Biological Observatory. The EcoFOCI project acquires and maintains what's primarily long-running data sets in the Arctic Region, and DBO sampling focuses on transects centered on locations of high productivity, biodiversity, and rates of biological change. So I'm keeping this short for the sake of time, but we just wanted to note that these activities regularly include shipboard surveys with water column and sediment sampling, as well as service cruises out to mooring arrays. These survey activities do not currently include plastics, so you could consider inquiring whether marine debris interest could be included on future cruises.

Kelly Suhre (01:04:16):

Also, in conjunction with PMEL, field drone operations are conducting in the Bering and Chukchi Seas to inform how changes in the Arctic can affect other climate and weather systems and marine ecosystems. And there could perhaps be an opportunity to partner with them on technology development or testing opportunities related to marine debris if you're interested in seeing how these capabilities might be incorporated into Saildrone. And, finally, GOMO is home to the Arctic Research Program, and you can reach out to our team for expertise generally in the Arctic Region. And we also have a grant opportunity and related expertise.

Kelly Suhre (01:04:56):

So the CalCOFI project is supported by GOMO and conducts quarterly cruises off of Southern and Central California. You can actually see the survey lines here on the upper right. And they collect a suite of hydrographic and biological data on station and underway down to about 500 meters. Marine plastics are not currently part of this study, but perhaps they could be if that was of interest, and there may also be the potential to conduct surveys of opportunities during these cruises. GOMO also supports two spray glider operations. One is operated off the coast of California and runs three of these CalCOFI lines that you're seeing here on the upper right. Another one is operated in the Solomon Sea, and there may be an opportunity to work with the PIs running these operations if there was an interest in testing new sonars or capabilities related to marine debris on gliders.

Kelly Suhre (01:05:45):

So bringing it all together, this slide really just summarizes what I already stated as part of these other programs because there are quite a few different programs and operations that we support. The first is that we're NOAA's home for sustained global ocean observing, so we have that global reach with observing infrastructure and cruises around the globe. We do conduct some work or support some work on autonomous platforms. Those might be good opportunities for technology or sensor testing. We have expertise focused on sustained observing, the Arctic Region, and global partnerships, and are certainly keen to learn more on how we might collaborate and include marine debris as part of GOOS.

Kelly Suhre (01:06:26):

So with that, I look forward to your questions.

Amy V. Uhrin (01:06:31):

Great. Thank you so much, Kelly. All right. So next up is Chris Meinig from another OAR individual. He's with the Engineering and Development Division of PMEL, which is the Pacific Marine Environmental Lab.

Chris Meinig (01:06:45):

So thanks for the invite, and it's really wonderful to hear everybody that's talking about marine debris. I'll say right from the beginning that the Pacific Marine Environmental Lab, where I work and lead the engineering effort, does not do any work in marine debris, but we do do an awful lot of ocean observations to analyze and predict the oceans and the atmosphere.

Chris Meinig (01:07:06):

I'm specifically going to talk about our engineering effort. Our lab, in total, is about 175 people and 40 PIs. And with the engineering group where our mission is to solve these technical difficult observing problems to accelerate NOAA science, we have a group of 16, and we're involved in over 90% of the lab's observations. Our present stakeholders and customers are researchers, program managers, NOAA operations, NASA, industry, and foreign government partners to develop that technology. Our functions include engineering. We do everything from electronics to software to deployments. We have an electronics lab, a machine shop, a mooring shop. We support an awful lot of field work and have decades of experience in deploying equipment and moorings.

Chris Meinig (01:07:55):

On this next slide here, you're looking at a bunch of dots and lines. The lines are from autonomous vehicles and all the dots are from floats, buoys, and other systems that we deployed over the last 18 months. I show this just to make the point that, number one, none of this happens without collaboration. So we have a wide, diverse group that we collaborate with to make these observations. And it's unclear to me how this can help with marine debris, but when I look at spatially what we cover in any typical year, I can't help but think that some of these linkages could be made. Most of this data is used to write papers. Ultimately, it all gets archived at NCI in the end, so it's all certainly available and I'd be glad to talk about any of this data to see where it might be useful.

Chris Meinig (01:08:50):

We are a science driven technology development lab, so we have an engineering shop that starts off with science drivers. We don't develop things unless there's a clear science question to answer. So if you look on the left side of this graph, if we start from there, if we start from science drivers, we have platform and sensor integration. Woops, can you guys still hear me?

Amy V. Uhrin (01:09:14):


Chris Meinig (01:09:14):

Okay. I thought I just heard a beep on my computer. I wanted to check before I started talking too long. Okay. So we start with platform design and sensor integration. The next thing we start doing is planning field tests and casting an eye forward towards operations, what that would look like. We start automating our workflow and data validation, that's as we integrate new sensors into new platforms to make sure we're observing things correctly and to gold standard measurements. Ultimately, that pans out into integrated research missions where we do atmospheric biogeochemical, physical, many missions typically on a single platform at one time. And at that time, we also look at what it might look like for transition. Now, that transition might go to industry, it might go to within PMEL, to other programs, or it could go across line offices. We've really seen many types of transitions, and no two are ever the same.

Chris Meinig (01:10:14):

So our relevance is really in this end-to-end development. If we go down the steps, the first thing we do is evaluate opportunity. We look at the science drivers, the mission requirements, and start raising funds. It needs to fit the OAR vision all the time. We'll form partnerships and drag in expertise as required. Everyone is really a niche player these days, so we need to form partnerships with pinnacles of expertise in order to accomplish this work. The next step is to develop engineering designs and prototypes. We do field testing both local and to full ocean depths. We're blessed to be here in Puget Sound so we can do an awful lot of field testing right in Puget Sound where we have 200 meter depths. Final step is at the launch stage where we fabricate and integrate and deploy. We establish scientific collaborations. So we write papers, we assess the impact of these things, and reach out to our program and project managers. And ultimately, everything gets distilled to a stack of publications every year, which the laboratory gets evaluated on.

Chris Meinig (01:11:14):

And some of those things that we've accomplished by that cover is our Saildrone deployments that Kelly mentioned, that over the last five years, we've integrated... well, now it's closer to 30 sensors within the Saildrone. For those that don't know about it, it's about 5 meters tall, about 7 meters long, and has a mass about 750 kilos and can carry about 100 kilos of payload. So that is a significant amount of weight and can generate 30 watts continuously. So for engineers, this is just a power plant that we can harness and develop various systems on. Some of those are highlighted out there on the right, and the color-coding is just how we incremented them over years in a phased plan.

Chris Meinig (01:12:00):

So why bother with Saildrone? What's so cool about this? If you look here on the left, you'll see years of observing and time observing on the left side. And on the right side, you have spacial scales on this. You can look at each platform. Everything has a niche of what it covers. And when we look where Unmanned Maritime Systems can cover on the surface, it's a really big box. So that just speaks to the time and space requirements that we can observe in a single integrated platform. So, to me, this was super exciting to get involved with five years ago, and I thought there was a lot that we could make sense with that.

Chris Meinig (01:12:35):

We've taken our Saildrones really from pole to pole and almost everywhere in between. Here's a mission in the Arctic that shows what we've done for their unique requirements where we've taken Saildrones to the highest unmanned vehicle latitudes of any vehicle. We got them stuck in the ice last year and we had some very unique flux measurements while the Saildrones were in the ice. We also develop lots of buoys with profilers that go up and down and harness wave energy power. We've developed an Oculus Glider, which is a coastal glider that can go much faster than traditional gliders and can house a much bigger payload in a modular session. And we've also developed ALAMO floats with biodegradable parachutes so that we're not throwing so much plastic into the water.

Chris Meinig (01:13:24):

Our goal with this is to fill these gaps in observing technology. Many times, by developing and bringing these new platforms to the market, we have enabled entirely new science discoveries to our stakeholders. We make this technology available through dissemination and transitions.

Chris Meinig (01:13:43):

The Oculus Glider that I mentioned is the one on the right. This has been transitioned to hydroid and it compliments their family of Seagliders on the left, which can go less than 1000 meters. The Deepgliders go to 6000 meters, and the new Oculus Coastal Glider is good to 200 meters. And the big breakthrough that PMEL brought to this is an entirely new buoyancy engine. So we have about a 3.4 liter engine now, and while traditional gliders move at about half a knot, we can go about one and a half knots for horizontally through the water.

Chris Meinig (01:14:16):

Over the past five years, we've collaborated with every line office. We've had one small marine debris program where we implemented... I think it was after the tsunami, a barge washed ashore on the Olympic Sanctuary and with [inaudible 01:14:28] we attached a simple beacon on there so we could track it as it sloshed back and forth on the ocean to make sure it wouldn't head back out again. But we collaborate with people all the time and we truly are only as good as our partners.

Chris Meinig (01:14:44):

So the partnerships that... I thought I'd bring this slide in here to show kind of the unique space where research just... you can exchange PMEL for any research laboratory and operations and what the role industry might bring. And we all have our defined roles and what we're really good at, right? So the research lab over there is on the right. Operations typically have the things on the left. Industry can bring those things like rapid scaling and large matching resources, and really talent and machine learning and software that we really just can't afford and will never get in the government. Together, if we bring all that together, we can develop these shared visions, get the rapid co-development going, built-in transitions, right? Because if you build things with all this in mind, it can scale very quickly and very effectively because you're not handing the baton back and forth many times.

Chris Meinig (01:15:33):

So this overlap, in my experience of the 15 transitions that I've been involved with, is a super powerful multiplier for innovation. But special attention does need to be paid to the cultures of each organization. If we don't pay attention to culture, it will all tank in the end. So very important lessons learned over the years.

Chris Meinig (01:15:54):

So part of that, what has led to this understanding of what we can leverage with industry, is the first circumnavigation around Antarctica where we had a PMEL carbon sensor on there. Saildrone put 20 or 30 other sensors on there, including lots of video. So I'm not sure if that's useful for marine debris, but we have lots and lots of video from the Southern Ocean that looks something like this. And while we've tagged a lot of the video and image, we have over a million images tagged now. Marine debris is not one of the things we tagged for. So we tagged for things like ships and ice and a few other thing, but that's certainly something that's in the archive. And if we're funding, we're available. We could go back and tag for marine debris.

Chris Meinig (01:16:47):

Okay. Here's an example of some of our external collaborations. We have extensive experience with industry. We, of course, collaborate a lot with research institutes and academia, along with other public agencies internationally and with tribes.

Chris Meinig (01:17:05):

So I think I'll end there, and thank you for your attention. And I reach out, how can we collaborate on marine debris with you guys? Thank you.

Amy V. Uhrin (01:17:24):

Great. Thanks, Chris. Very impressive. All right. Well, in that case, we'll end the webinar and we thank our presenters for participating. We really appreciate it, a lot of really good information. A lot, I think, for all of us to digest. And like I said, we've been recording and so we will eventually share that. And once we figure out how we're going to share the responses from the Google Form about everybody's capabilities, we'll make sure everybody knows about that.

Amy V. Uhrin (01:17:46):

So if there aren't any last minute questions, we'll go ahead and end the webinar. And thank you everybody for being here today. We really appreciate it.