New steps are underway to use a federal interactive online mapping tool to deal with the challenges of increasing ship traffic and proposed energy development in the Arctic.
It’s ERMA – the Environmental Response Management Application – announced July 31 by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Interior Department’s Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement.
Fran Ulmer, who chairs the US Arctic Research Commission, says ERMA is a work in progress that will connect many different data sets.
The Alaska Ocean Observing System, the University of Alaska Fairbanks, and the University of New Hampshire, along with borough governments in Alaska’s Arctic, are working with NOAA’s Office of Response and Restoration on the effort. The data will include near real-time oceanographic observations and weather data from NOAA, and critical environmental, commercial and industrial data from the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, plus other federal and state agencies.
It will include observations of the extent and concentration of sea ice, location of ports and pipelines, vulnerable environmental resources and traditional and local knowledge of cultural and subsistence resources.
Emergency responders for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico used the same type of mapping tool.
The Gulf of Mexico version of ERMA is online at http://gomex.erma.noaa.gov/erma.html.