An Urban Ocean Observatory: Marine Observing and Forecasting in New York/New Jersey Waters

Wednesday, March 9, 2011 - 2:30pm
Stevens Institute of Technology, Center for Maritime Systems


Beginning in 1997, Stevens has been developing and evolving a network of operational coastal ocean and estuary sensors that provide real-time observations of weather and ocean conditions throughout the New York/New Jersey (NY/NJ) Harbor Estuary, Hudson River, and NJ coastal waters. A high-resolution, now operational nowcast and forecast hydrodynamic model system has been added and refined since 2004. The region includes all of the “urban” waters of New York and New Jersey, out to the continental shelf break. NYHOPS (New York Harbor Observation and Prediction System) provides medium term (48hr), water level, wave, 3D currents, temperature, and salinity forecasts. All of the information is viewable using creative, color-coded maps at
The maritime information from NYHOPS is being used by port security officials, emergency management personnel, ship pilots, teachers, environmental scientists, fishermen, sail and power pleasure boaters, kayakers and swimmers. The use has been documented in news articles, TV news reports, letters and phone calls. An example to be discussed was its use to save lives during the rescue of passengers from the January 2009 USAIR crash and to provide on scene support during the salvage operations following the tragic August 2009 plane/helicopter crash in the Hudson River.  The NYHOPS results are also providing a 3D pictures of the evolving water masses in near real-time for use with adaptive plankton sampling and in forensic applications to identify the source of coastal pollutants. In addition, scientists are beginning to use NYHOPS to quantify current day and future climate risks under various sea level rise scenarios.