URI ocean engineer elected to lead regional ocean observation group

KINGSTON, R.I. – December 18, 2008 — Malcolm Spaulding, professor of ocean engineering and director of the Center of Excellence in Undersea Technology at the University of Rhode Island, was elected the first president of the Northeast Regional Association for Coastal Ocean Observing Systems (NERACOOS).

NERACOOS is one of 11 regional associations developed to support the U.S. Integrated Ocean Observing System, which was created to ensure the sustained observations of the nation’s coastal oceans. It maintains a network of observation buoys that collect data about coastal ocean conditions, and it is developing data and information products about harmful algal blooms, water quality, and coastal inundation.

The group is supported by grants from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

“Fisheries managers, water quality specialists, researchers, mariners, the Coast Guard, coastal land managers, and many others benefit from accurate and timely ocean observing infrastructure and related decision support tools that effectively interpret data,” Spaulding said. “Ultimately, this increased capacity leads to safer maritime commerce and improved natural resource management.”

Spaulding, a resident of Wakefield, was nominated to the 18-member board by the Northeast Regional Ocean Council and represents the state of Rhode Island. The council is a state and federal partnership with a goal of engaging in regional protection and balanced use of ocean and coastal resources.

As president of NERACOOS, Spaulding’s immediate focus will be on establishing the organization, including the creation of working groups and a stakeholder council to guide the development and implementation of a strategic plan. In addition, Spaulding has proposed a major regional and national initiative to provide meteorological and oceanographic data in support of offshore renewable energy development from tidal currents, waves, and offshore winds.

Spaulding also serves as the senior advisor to Rhode Island’s Ocean Special Area Management Plan, which was initiated in August 2008 to assist in the siting of offshore renewable energy facilities in the state’s coastal waters.