Gov. Bryant announces new ocean research center

Published: Apr. 11, 2012 at 4:32 PM CDT|Updated: Apr. 17, 2012 at 3:52 AM CDT
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HANCOCK COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - A new ocean research center will soon call Hancock County home. Gov. Phil Bryant announced Wednesday that the National Oceans and Applications Research Center will be located at Stennis Space Center.

NOARC will combine the capabilities of NASA, NOAA and U. S. Navy teams to analyze data that can give scientists a "space to sea floor" understanding of the entire Gulf of Mexico watershed and other oceans that NOAA monitors.

"We have so many outstanding resources already at our fingertips here at Stennis," Gov. Bryant said. "This new center will allow for enhanced research into our own Gulf, but we won't see just research for the sake of research. The scientists who work at this center will focus on getting information into the hands of those who can use it to develop new tools and products, expand businesses and technology industries and improve lives."

Officials aim to use that data to not only drive restoration efforts throughout the entire Gulf, but to drive technology innovation and business development in the private sector, as well.

"Combined efforts of NOARC scientists and the vast amount of data we have available here can spark any number of products, services and programs," Gov. Bryant continued. "We could see apps that provide commercial and recreational fisherman with real-time wind, temperature and current maps. Or we could see the development of programs that alert oyster fishermen about adverse water conditions that are developing near their leases. We'll be able to work more closely with first responders to provide state-of-the art storm surge and evacuation models. The possibilities are really endless."

Officials say NOARC data could be used to develop environmental management best practices, help identify optimal sites to build critical infrastructure and help guide coastal restoration efforts.

NOARC will leverage a partnership with the Mississippi Enterprise for Technology to help encourage the development of small businesses that benefit from NOARC data. Leaders expect the collaboration at NOARC to increase Mississippi's notoriety as a technology destination.

"I am pleased to know that the State of Mississippi has selected NASA's Stennis Space Center as the site to establish the National Oceans and Applications Research Center," Stennis Space Center director Patrick Scheuermann said. "Locating NOARC at Stennis brings about an opportunity for increased collaboration and growth at this unique federal city for the benefit of the entire Gulf Coast region."

"Mississippi can be home to the 'Woods Hole of the South'," Bryant added, alluding to the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts. The renowned center is a pioneer in ocean research.

"Along with INFINITY, NOARC will establish Stennis and Hancock County as a world-class destination for scientific research and innovation."

Officials expect to fund NOARC with remaining funds that BP granted to Mississippi during the response to the 2010 Deepwater Horizon explosion. The center will receive initial funding of $500,000 to provide for basic startup needs.

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