LSU speaks GOM with Congress

Staff Writer
Gonzales Weekly Citizen

On Tuesday, March 7 Dean of the LSU College of the Coast & Environment, Christopher D’Elia, participated in a Gulf of Mexico congressional briefing on the importance of sustained observations for the Gulf of Mexico.

Moreover, the role that the U.S. Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS), plays in supporting the economy, public health and safety was discussed. IOOS is a mechanism for filling critical information gaps in observations and data in the Gulf of Mexico.

The briefing, titled “Are we better informed today than before Hurricane Katrina and the Deepwater Horizon Disaster? A discussion on the state of coastal observing in the Gulf of Mexico,” was sponsored by Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) and Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS) and organized by the IOOS Association and the Gulf of Mexico Coastal Ocean Observing System.

D’Elia participated on behalf of LSU and the Gulf of Mexico Research Collaborative (GOMURC), for which he serves as the 2016-2017 chair. GOMURC is a consortium of 80 research universities located in five Gulf states, each dedicated to educating the next generation and a future healthy gulf environment and economy.

As it now stands, the current IOOS infrastructure is incomplete, and the Gulf is not adequately prepared for future disasters that may occur. The ultimate goal of the briefing was to build awareness of the importance of these programs at the national, regional and state level.

D’Elia presented on the economic importance of the Gulf, which provides diverse resources and opportunities with its natural ecosystem for maritime commerce and energy infrastructure. He spoke on the benefits of ocean observing – physical, geological, chemical and biological observations – which help measure changes over time and relative to specific events, such as oil spills.

“Ocean observing can help make predictions that inform decision makers about commerce, environmental management and public health,” D’Elia said. “High frequency radars, in particular, provide decision makers with valuable observations in the Gulf. It’s imperative that we continue to support and expand their operation.”

In addition to D’Elia, other presenters included Russell Callender, NOAA assistant administrator for the National Ocean Service; Vice Admiral Paul Gaffney, U.S. Navy (Ret.) and National Academies of Sciences: Gulf Research Program Advisory Board; Larry McKinney, director, Harte Research Institute, Texas; Ruth Perry, oceanographer, Shell Oil; and Monty Graham, University of Southern Mississippi.

LSU’s College of the Coast & Environment, or CC&E, is LSU’s sole academic institution with a core mission of advancing coastal and environmental issues with science, technology and knowledge. Home to award-winning, internationally-acclaimed faculty, CC&E is comprised of two departments, the Department of Oceanography & Coastal Sciences and the Department of Environmental Sciences. For more information visit: http://www.cce.lsu.edu/.

Contributed Report