Some NOAA programs will receive a boost this year as Congress and President Bush have approved a record $120.2 million for NOAA navigation services for fiscal year 2002.

Several National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) programs will receive a boost this year as Congress and President Bush have approved a record $120.2 million for NOAA navigation services for fiscal year 2002. The budget includes a record $25.1 million for geodetic services and the evolving National Height Modernization program.

NOAA’s Geodesy Program, administered by the National Geodetic Survey (NGS), received a $2.8 million increase over 2001 figures. About $250,000 of the money is targeted to NOAA’s management of the National Spatial Reference System (NSRS). The NSRS provides the common geographic framework for the nation’s spatial data requirements and the basis for mapping, charting, navigation and shoreline boundary determinations. The NSRS includes:

  • A consistent, accurate, up-to-date national shoreline.
  • The National CORS, a set of GPS Continuously Operating Reference Stations that meet NOAA geodetic standards for installation, operation and data distribution.
  • A network of permanently marked geodetic control points.
  • A set of accurate models describing dynamic geophysical processes affecting spatial measurements.

NOAA has been allocated $3.8 million for fiscal year 2002 to implement the National Height Modernization Study in states identified by Congress. Height modernization efforts focus on enhancing the vertical aspect of the NSRS by providing better access to accurate and consistent height data at the local level through the use of GPS.

Congress directed NOAA to conduct a National Height Modernization Study in 1998. The study concluded that nationwide height modernization implementation would cost $66 million for surveyors to provide a 1-10 kilometer grid of accurate vertical geodetic control of the conterminous United States. Height modernization is currently implemented on a state-by-state basis as state organizations form partnerships with those in the private sector, and with federal and state agencies.

State criteria for participation in height modernization includes the presence of an organization with statewide credibility, commitment to working with NOAA to ensure consistency with national height modernization objectives, reliance on NOAA height modernization guidelines, determination of state height needs using public forums and the commitment to contract with the private sector.

States participating in height modernization in fiscal year 2002 include California, Louisiana, North Carolina and Wisconsin.

Issues related to height modernization in California include seismic monitoring, sea level rise, flooding, water delivery and navigation. Height modernization is being implemented by the California Spatial Reference Center, which received $1 million from NOAA in fiscal year 2001 to provide infrastructure and enhance vertical geodetic control along the South Bay portion of San Francisco Bay. The program will receive $1 million from the NOAA Geodesy program in fiscal year 2002.

In Louisiana, storm surge, flooding, subsidence, under-keel and under-bridge clearance are the issues that height modernization may aid. The state was granted $1 million from the NOAA Geodesy Program in fiscal year 2002, which will help to establish the Louisiana Spatial Reference Center as an organizing vehicle to implement height modernization.

Height modernization efforts in North Carolina will receive $1 million in fiscal year 2002. Surveys conducted through private sector contracts will address several height related issues such as storm surges, sea level rises, flooding and urban planning.

The height modernization effort in Wisconsin began in 2000 in collaboration with the NOAA to help resolve issues relating to flooding, urban planning and seismic monitoring. The program will receive $0.5 million from the program for fiscal year 2002 to accelerate height modernization from 10 years to five.

According to the National Geodetic Survey NOAA, height modernization interest is growing and provides benefits such as:

  • Being quick and inexpensive (due to less labor): GPS surveys are 1/10 the cost and 1/3 the time of classical surveys.
  • Bringing in federal money to provide income to first-line providers.
  • Providing a foundation for economic stimulus—an estimated $12B in benefits to navigation, watershed, flood hazard, urban planning, farming and terrain modeling.