NOAA 2001-R308
Contact: Pat Viets

Study to Focus on Gulf Coast Environmental Hazards and Severe Weather

The Commerce Department's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration today announced a $2.3 million research partnership with Jackson State University, Jackson, Miss., to collaborate on coastal ecosystem research and risk analyses that could ultimately save lives and property along the Gulf Coast. The research will primarily focus on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

"NOAA is looking at this partnership as a first step in a long-term and mutually beneficial relationship with Jackson State University," said Scott Gudes, acting administrator for NOAA. "This relationship will strengthen NOAA's capabilities to serve the Gulf Coast community through enhanced meteorological and environmental research that will help safeguard the coast and protect lives and property from severe weather threats."

Under the three-year cooperative agreement signed on July 26, the university will conduct research to assess the risks to coastal ecosystems and economies from environmental hazards and severe weather. Research will be used with NOAA's satellite observations and meteorological modeling to evaluate the health of the Gulf Coast aquatic ecosystem, predict natural and human effects on living ecosystems, and minimize human and economic losses from severe environmental conditions.

"This is an exciting opportunity to provide the nation with state-of-the-art risk evaluations in terms that can be used by the public and specialists alike," said Paul Croft, meteorology program coordinator and associate professor of meteorology at Jackson State.

Research will focus on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, part of the Gulf of Mexico region that experiences some of the greatest severe weather risks and impacts in the nation. This work will be accomplished through the university's School of Science and Technology working in conjunction with its marine and atmospheric science programs. The university will work extensively with NOAA's National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service and other NOAA offices throughout the course of the project.

"Our coasts will continue to be the focal point for commerce, recreation and tourism, and a prime choice to place homes," said Joe Stinus, director of NOAA's National Coastal Data Development Center in Bay St. Louis, Miss. "Knowing and predicting the coastal risks can greatly reduce loss of life and property."

Jackson State University is one of two Historically Black Colleges and Universities offering a program in marine science. It is also the only university in Mississippi and the only HBCU offering a doctorate in environmental science. It had the first undergraduate program in meteorology among the nation's HBCUs and has the only undergraduate program in professional meteorology in Mississippi.

NOAA's NESDIS is the nation's primary source of space-based meteorological and climate data. NESDIS operates the nation's environmental satellites, which are used for weather forecasting, climate monitoring and other environmental applications such as fire detection, ozone monitoring and sea surface temperature measurements. NESDIS also operates three data centers, which house global databases in climatology, oceanography, solid earth geophysics, marine geology and geophysics, solar-terrestrial physics, and paleoclimatology.

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