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NOAA's National Marine Ecosystem Status website provides one-stop shop for key marine ecosystem data
Katie Valentine

NOAA's National Marine Ecosystem Status website provides one-stop shop for key marine ecosystem data

The website is a helpful resource for trends, links, and other information related to essential U.S. coastal and marine ecosystem indicator data.

Today, NOAA is announcing a re-launch of its National Marine Ecosystem Status website, a tool that provides easy access to NOAA’s wide range of important coastal and marine ecosystem data. The website provides a starting point for educators, outreach specialists, and the interested public to explore the status of seven major U.S. marine ecosystems and the nation. The re-launch of the site features updated indicator data, new regional coverage for some existing indicators, and a completely new Marine Species Distribution Indicator.

A one-stop-shop for marine ecosystem indicator data

Marine ecosystems - the organisms, physical environment, and their interactions in a specific area - provide food, jobs, security, well-being, and other services to tens of millions of people in hundreds of thousands of ocean-dependent businesses across the United States. As the nation’s earth science agency, NOAA monitors and analyzes the widest range of essential U.S. coastal and marine ecosystem data. Until last year, it was difficult to find all this information online in one place. This website is a tool that consolidates NOAA and agency partner data. This data is presented in a way that is easy to understand and use for members of the public and scientists alike.

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The website is designed with broad audiences in mind and features detailed visualizations like the one shown above, which displays the average annual sea surface temperature in the Northeast United States Large Marine Ecosystem.

"We are pleased to rollout the updated National Marine Ecosystems Status website. The website pulls together the ecosystem work that NOAA conducts in the marine environment, and presents this information in a flexible user-friendly format," said Cisco Werner, NOAA Science Council Vice Chair. "Visitors to the site can explore specific thematic areas at the national or regional level. Users can also access general information or take deeper dives, connecting to specific NOAA websites throughout the organization. The National Marine Ecosystems Status website is a tool that managers, scientists, stakeholders, and the general public can use to learn about our marine ecosystems and use that information to make informed decisions."

This website presents the status and trends of key climatological, physical-chemical, biological, and human needs and activities data. The data is organized by region and theme, and can also be viewed on a national level. Some examples include coastal populations and recreational fishing engagement. As a result, educators, outreach specialists, and the public can easily access regionally-specific data related to the indicator of their choice. They can also find easy-to-understand summaries and links to the raw data and to additional resources. The time series figures include symbols and gauges that describe how recent values of an indicator compare against the overall series.

The website also represents an opportunity to feature the diversity of important work done across NOAA, says NOAA Assistant Administrator for Oceanic and Atmospheric Research Craig McLean: 

“This is a great NOAA product that shows the American public, educators, students, and a broad reach of constituents the health and status of U.S. marine ecosystems, all in one place.  This product also displays the important work of  NOAA, to understand our marine ecosystems and contribute to the new blue economy.”

New data, new indicator information, and increased clarity

The re-launch of the website represents the first major update since its introduction almost exactly a year prior. The new website features:

- Updated data for existing indicators
- Reformatted interpretation language associated with all indicators
- New “Ecosystem-Based Science” information tab
- Additional resource links to encourage users to explore the data further on other NOAA websites
- New Marine Species Distribution Indicator
- Newly expanded Coastal Tourism Economy and Corals Indicators

Marine Species Distribution Indicator

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The new Marine Species Distribution Indicator tracks changes in the geographic locations where a species is found both latitudinally and in the water column. Some species naturally move from location to location throughout the year, following seasons, food, or other factors. However, as climate change causes ocean waters to warm, populations of many species are moving. Some are moving towards the poles (northward in the northern hemisphere) or deeper towards cooler waters, allowing them to track their preferred temperature. Understanding where and how fast marine species are moving is important to coastal communities. These changing distributions can affect the species available for fishing, recreation, and cultural practices.

The corals indicator is drawn from NOAA’s National Coral Reef Monitoring Program. It now includes sub-scores for important components of coral reef ecosystems: Benthic, climate, fish, and human connections. This increased level of detail allows users to access more information about specific aspects of coral health. 
Coastal Tourism Economy 

The Coastal Tourism Indicator now includes measures of employment and wage compensation alongside the original GDP measurement. All three indicators represent important components of the human dimension of our coastal and ocean ecosystems in the United States.

Explore the newly updated National Marine Ecosystem Status website and let us know what you think by emailing us at NMFS.EIWG@noaa.gov. If you have an indicator that you’d like to propose for addition to the site in future updates, please review our Indicator selection criteria and use the form at the bottom to submit your proposal.

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