Tag Archives | NOAA

Blog Roundup #1 – Ocean Science and More

If you follow this blog and my twitter feed, you can probably guess that I have a lot of interest in the fields of data visualization, education, ocean science and web development, and especially how those worlds intersect. Each of these subjects is incredibly diverse, which makes it difficult to stay on top of new developments that are of personal interest.

In the past, one would have subscribed to several broad-ranging magazines in the hope that a few relevant articles might appear each year. But in the Internet age of blogging, micro-reporting, social networking, and web sites dedicated to every niche imaginable, the resources for personal knowledge development are immense. This is both a blessing and a curse.

To help weed through the chaff, I hope to occasionally share some of my favorite web sites and blogs – provided in easily digestible chunks for the busy educator or scientist.


This first roundup includes five of my favorite ocean and climate science related sites. Here they are in no particular order.

1) Community Collaborative Rain, Hail & Snow Network Blog – CoCoRaHS is a nation-wide network of volunteer observers who measure precipitation around the country. The maps and data on their main site is awesome, but the community blog features short synopses of major precipitation events. Each post includes lots of neat maps, and is written in easily understandable language.

2) GLOBE Scientists’ Blog – The GLOBE project enables classrooms around the world to collect environmental data that is used by scientists in their research. Their Scientists’ blog highlights the cool science that students can be involved in, and often features suggested activities.

3) Marinexplore Blog – Marinexplore is a relatively new company that is trying to build a comprehensive data portal that allows users to peruse and download a large variety of ocean datasets. Their blog is primarily devoted to promoting feature updates, but occasionally it includes some neat data visualizations and stories showcasing the datasets available on the site and the kinds of research that can be accomplished with them.

4) RealClimate – RealClimate is perhaps one of the top environmental blogs on the internet (at least when considering blogs written by scientists), and is certainly one that scientists, the media and educators regularly follow for analysis on recent developments in climate science. While the site is dedicated to making climate science more accessible, many posts are arguably rather high-level. However, it’s a great place to go when you want to look beyond the headline and learn more about how data on a global scale is processed, interpolated and modeled to better understand climate processes.

5) NOAA News – The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is tasked with monitoring and forecasting weather and climate around the globe (not to mention their impacts on fisheries and humans). As a result, following their news feed is a great way to stay informed on all the cool things that NOAA does. Whether it’s the launch of a new weather satellite, a recent report on the health of fish stocks, a new system for issuing storm warnings or a recent national climate analysis, there are plenty of cool things to learn about, courtesy of your local U.S. taxpayer.

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Coastal Population Report

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Credit: NOAA

In ocean education, it’s often a challenge to convey how humans and the ocean are connected. One good place to start is where people live. By highlighting how many people live at or near the coast, the potential impact the ocean and humans have on each other becomes significant, and a stronger case for relevance can be made.

NOAA and the U.S. Census recently released the National Coastal Population Report which analyzes population trends in coastal counties over the past 40 years, and includes forecasts for 2020.

In 2010, 39% of the U.S. population lived in coastal “shoreline” counties, comprising less than 10% of the land area of the continental United States. Over half of the U.S. population (52%) lives in counties whose watersheds drain directly to the cost, comprising 20% of the U.S.

The full report features a number of additional tables and graphs. Here are a few of my favorite highlights:

  • Population growth in shoreline counties is slower than the national average (39% vs. 52%). Apparently, the deserts of Arizona and Texas and the woods of North Carolina have had more appeal in recent years than the coast. (The low cost of housing in these areas compared with the high cost on the coast is most likely to blame.)
  • Shoreline counties have slightly higher percentages of people with Bachelor’s degrees and higher, as well as households making over $75,000, than inland counties.
  • New Jersey has the 4th highest number of seasonal housing units in shoreline counties, following Florida (no suprise there), Michigan (thanks to the Great Lakes) and New York.
  • However, Maine has the highest percentage of seasonal housing units, followed by the Carolinas and Minnesota.
  • New Jersey ranks 4th in population and 5th in population density when only shoreline counties are taken into account. This reflects the fact that while most of NJ is coastal, other states like Illinois, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts (which have lower overall densities) have populations concentrated in their coastal towns.

If you’re an educator, this report might be a useful starting point for fostering discussions on the relation between humans and the ocean. Overall, the report is quite accessible with a good variety of clear graphs and maps. It also eschews lengthly analyses, leaving the interpretation to the reader, while providing some helpful highlights in the sidebars.

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