Contact: Ben Sherman
NOAA News Releases 2005
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Funds Support University of Texas at Austin, University of Akron, University of Minnesota,
Florida International University Research Efforts

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration awarded $150,000 to University of Texas at Austin ($37,277), University of Akron ($37,790), University of Minnesota ($37,485), and Florida International University ($37,448) to study how salinity variations affect ecological conditions and to determine the causes of algal blooms in Florida Bay. The award is the final installment of a two-year grant from NOAA with a total value of approximately $300,000.

South Florida is the site of a $7.8 billion restoration effort to revitalize the Everglades and restore the water quality of Florida Bay. Florida Bay has shown signs of ecological stress, such as dropping water quality and large areas of dying sea grass due to high salinities and/or nutrients. The researchers hope to discover why high salinities affect ecological conditions more in the north-central region of the Bay than elsewhere. In addition, scientists will examine what factors allow for the persistence of algal blooms despite variations in seasonal precipitation and nutrient supply.

“This study will help develop predictive tools for restoration activities in coastal communities,” said retired Navy Vice Adm. Conrad C. Lautenbacher, Jr., Ph.D., under secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator. “NOAA’s partnership with University of Texas at Austin, University of Akron, University of Minnesota and Florida International University help us to understand how to reduce nutrient loads in Florida Bay and the marine systems in general.”

In this study, the researchers seek to test a hypothesis that high salinities in the north-central region of Florida Bay contribute to ecosystem degradation and inhibit nutrient removal processes. They believe that this might have consequences for food webs and incidences of algal blooms. This work will complement other research in South Florida that provides data on nutrient concentrations, and will help resource managers make informed decisions about remediation actions for improving the health of Florida Bay.

Each year the NOAA Center for Sponsored Coastal Ocean Research awards approximately $25 million in grants to institutions of higher education, state, local, and tribal governments, and other non-profit research institutions to assist NOAA in fulfilling its mission to study our coastal oceans. NOAA-sponsored competitive research programs, such as this one, demonstrate NOAA's commitment to these basic responsibilities of science and service to the nation for the past 35 years.

NOAA’s National Ocean Service is dedicated to exploring, understanding, conserving and restoring the nation’s coasts and oceans. It balances environmental protection with economic prosperity in fulfilling its mission of promoting safe navigation, supporting coastal communities, sustaining coastal habitats and mitigating coastal hazards.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, an agency of the U.S. Commerce Department, is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through the prediction and research of weather and climate-related events and providing environmental stewardship of our nation’s coastal and marine resources. Through the emerging Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS), NOAA is working with its federal partners and nearly 60 countries to develop a global monitoring network that is as integrated as the planet it observes.

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