NOAA’s Oil Spill Response Effort in the Gulf of Mexico
As the nation’s leading scientific resource for oil spills, NOAA has been on the scene of the BP spill from the start, providing coordinated scientific weather and biological response services to federal, state and local organizations.
We have mobilized experts from across the agency to help contain the spreading oil spill and protect the Gulf of Mexico’s many marine mammals, sea turtles, fish, shellfish and other endangered marine life.
NOAA spill specialists are advising the U.S. Coast Guard on cleanup options as well as advising all affected federal, state and local partners on sensitive marine resources at risk in this area of the Gulf of Mexico. Additionally:
- NOAA is predicting the oil spill’s trajectory and the path of the layers of oil floating on the surface. OR&R experts are conducting aerial surveys to update trajectory maps and visually track the movement of the spill.
- NOAA’s National Weather Service is providing regular weather forecasts to a joint federal command center in Louisiana to facilitate operations planning and response efforts.
- Experienced marine mammal spotters from NOAA’s Southeast Fisheries Science Center are participating in surveillance flights flown by the Office of Marine and Aviation Operations to assess the species and populations that may come in contact with the spill.
- NOAA also is using experimental satellite data from our Satellite Analysis Branch to survey the extent of spill-related marine pollution.
As a major partner in the federal response to this evolving incident, NOAA will continue to provide the necessary coastal and marine expertise required for sound, timely decision-making and help protect the affected Gulf Coast communities and coastal marine environment.
Line Office Contributions
NOAA is a vital part of the massive response effort on the Deepwater Horizon incident. Many personnel are on-scene and many more are engaged remotely, as follows:
Office of Response and Restoration (OR&R)
Emergency Response Division (ERD)
- Scientific support to the U.S. Coast Guard and Unified Command
Assessment and Restoration Division (ARD)
- Predict where the oil is going and its effects
- Overflight observations and mapping
- Identify resources at risk
- Predict fate (chemical changes) of oil
- Recommend appropriate clean-up methods
- Manage data and information
National Weather Service
- Plan for assessment of injuries to natural resources
- Coordinate with state and federal trustees
- Implement sampling plans
National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service (NESDIS)
- Incident weather forecasts including marine and aviation
National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS)
- Experimental imagery for spill trajectory forecasts
Office of Marine and Aviation Operations (OMAO)
- Issues related to marine mammals, sea turtles, and fishery resources
- Management of Fishery Closures
- Public Affairs support to the Joint Information Center
National Ocean Service
- USCG Liaison to the DCO Incident Support Team USCG Headquarters
- Oceanographic modeling support
- Public Affairs support to Joint Information Center
- Production of nautical charts that display the spill zone forecast - Data to support trajectory forecasts
- Collection of aerial imagery
- Operation and maintenance of systems to measure water levels, weather, and near-shore current meters
- Support for National Estuarine Research Reserves and Gulf coastal managers
- Collection of data to monitor contaminants in the area
- Assessment of socioeconomic impacts