NOAA site holds natural data

A National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Web site supplies sophisticated
coastal data to local, state and regional agencies that protect natural resources and
develop economic growth.

NOAA’s Coastal Services Center’s information directory, at, electronically links databases
about sea surface temperatures, tides and weather. The searchable databases conform to the
Z39.50 Library of Congress standard, and searchers can view text descriptions of pertinent

Besides NOAA, the Fish and Wildlife Service is the primary federal user of the site,
said Anne Hale Miglarese, branch chief of Coastal Information Services at the center in
Charleston, S.C.

The 4-year-old center generates data on coastal submerged habitats, wetlands habitats
and adjacent uplands by analyzing satellite imagery, aerial photography and field data.

The center studies three forest land categories and six wetlands categories, said
Dorsey Worthy, program manager for the Coastal Change Analysis Program, or C-CAP.

The National Marine Fisheries Service Laboratory in Beaufort, S.C., helps the center
manage some of the coastal data, and the Energy Department’s Oak Ridge National
Laboratory in Oak Ridge, Tenn., provides technical support.

Miglarese said Maine fisheries biologists have used NOAA’s Coastal Change Analysis
Program data about the St. Croix River estuary, found at, to
relate forest harvesting practices to observed changes in Atlantic salmon spawning areas.

The Coastal Information Directory resides on a Sun Microsystems Inc. server running the
Apache Group’s freeware Apache HTTP Server 1.2.6.

NOAA also has two Dell Computer Corp. servers running Microsoft Windows NT Server 4.0,
Environmental Systems Research Institute Inc.’s MapObjects Internet Map Server and
other specialized software, said Gary Keull, the webmaster.

MapObjects Internet Map Server from ESRI of Redlands, Calif., is an interactive mapping
application that lets users examine different layers of geographic information systems
objects and zoom in and out, said Anne Ball, program manager for information resources at
the center.

MapObjects aids in categorizing, interpreting and integrating the raw data in C-CAP
with other spatial data. The site has a freeware search engine.

Because many of the site’s users do not have the latest Web browsers or modems,
site designers have avoided heavy use of graphics, Miglarese said.

Besides the ESRI GIS software, center officials have added laser beach mapping of
coastal erosion, a technology developed in conjunction with the Geological Survey and
NASA. Laser mapping is consistent to within 15 centimeters in three dimensions, Miglarese

They have also added Java software to overlay buoy data, for example, on raw satellite
data, Keull said.

Next, NOAA officials said they want to help their users analyze trends in the Web
site’s data. “Our goal is to link changes in submerged land and dry land”
by examining variables such as water quality and fish stock, Worthy said.    

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