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Jamais Cascio, 31 Aug 05

waterlevels.jpgOne of the results of the December tsunami was increased interest in the development of integrated systems for monitoring the Indian Ocean. It's likely that Katrina, too, will lead to greater attention to our ability to keep tabs on the ocean environment. A key difference, however, is that there are already numerous sensors and monitors in place around North America, unlike the pre-tsunami Indian Ocean; the focus probably won't be so much on putting more sensors in place as on making better use of the data we already receive.

The OpenIOOS is a good start at this, and deserves to get greater attention and support. OpenIOOS -- the IOOS, in this case, stands for Integrated Ocean Observing System -- is a project of the Office of Naval Research and NOAA's National Ocean Service, and combines a wiki with tools for displaying data meeting the Open Geospatial Consortium standards. Government and academic ocean monitoring resources are brought together in a single package, making both the data and the display available for general use. It's almost staggering how much data can be brought together in one site: storm tracks (both historic and forecast); coastal water levels; ocean currents; wave heights and models; a variety of satellite images (including sea surface height, temperature, and chlorophyll levels); wind observations; radar reports; and much more, all able to be combined on a single map.

The map shown is part of a time series on sea level surges over the past 24 hours; a satellite image and wind map covering the last couple of days can be seen here.

OpenIOOS is an impressive example of what can be done with open standards and abundant information.

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