On December 1, 2009, we participated in the General Assembly “Coastal data and information, a vital need in our islands” sponsored by the Caribbean Regional Association (CaRA, http://cara.uprm.edu) at the Nautical Club in San Juan, PR. Several speakers were invited to present updates on products and services to CaRA members and participants, which approximated 50 attendees from Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands. The status and future development of the CariCOOS (Caribbean Coastal Ocean Observing System), including facilities and services for direct observations of coastal conditions and forecasting abilities, were presented along with the establishment of a Products & Services Committee that represents different sectors of coastal data users. This committee consists of several groups that will evaluate the system’s ability to attend to the data needs of that particular sector and will educate other sectors on the products and services available through CaRA. In addition, identifying frequent users and their information needs in order to address these issues is also contemplated.
Observational and forecast needs most frequently solicited by users include data on coastal winds, waves, currents, inundation, water quality, bathymetry, temperature, salinity, and benthic habitats. Several implementation strategies were presented by Prof. Julio Morell, principal investigator, including the minimization of infrastructure deployment and maintenance (i.e., sparse network of real-time sensors complemented by higher spatial resolution), installing observing assets (e.g., buoys, radars, remote sensing) located in critical representative areas, and developing numerical model assets.
During the assembly, most of the members/participants expressed their concern about installing cameras in specific areas (e.g., beaches) for improving vigilance and safety, installing buoys and developing models for USVI and increasing the resolution of the data provided by the system. A major interest by users is the development of tutorials on how to use and interpret the data provided by the system, which may be directed towards helping specific users (e.g., divers, shipping companies, surfers, coastal managers). UPRSG is currently integrated in the Outreach & Education subcommittee headed by Dr. Yasmín Detrés and will be participating in efforts to educate CaRA users on how to efficiently utilize the online products and services.
The first CariCOOS coastal data buoy, weighing approximately 6,000 pounds, for the US Caribbean region was deployed on June 9, 2009 on the south coast of the Puerto Rico insular shelf break off Caja Muertos Island. The buoy was anchored at a depth of 55 feet. Measurements of wind, air temperature, atmospheric pressure, waves, near-surface water temperature, salinity and ocean currents throughout the water column are obtained in real-time. Buoys similar to this one will be deployed in the northern coast of Puerto Rico during March 2010 and in a region between St. Croix and St. Thomas sometime during this year.
Photo: CariCOOS coastal data buoy, http://cara.uprm.edu
Contributed by J. Seda