**The new Center of Excellence for Operational Ocean and Great Lakes Mapping expands NOAA, University of New Hampshire partnership.**
(Washington, D.C.) -- U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Maggie Hassan (D-NH) announced today with Congresswoman Annie Kuster (NH-02) and Congressman Chris Pappas (NH-01) that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the University of New Hampshire (UNH) are expanding a 24-year ocean and Great Lakes mapping partnership through the creation of a new Center of Excellence for Operational Ocean and Great Lakes Mapping. A portion of the funding will be used by UNH to construct a new, state-of-the-art ocean mapping facility that will serve as the focal point of a campus innovation hub to bring together academia, industry and government.
“The University of New Hampshire’s world-class Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping and Joint Hydrographic Center has led the way for more than two decades in ocean mapping, helping ensure safe marine transportation and understanding coastal hazards. This leadership is affirmed by NOAA locating a new Center of Excellence for Operational Ocean and Great Lakes Mapping on UNH’s campus. With this $8 million NOAA grant I helped secure, New Hampshire’s ongoing research and training programs will remain ahead of the curve in this leading field,” said Senator Shaheen, chair of the Senate Appropriations subcommittee that funds NOAA.
“This important award to the University of New Hampshire will create a world-class facility to help explore and map the great unknowns of the ocean,” said Senator Hassan. “Innovative facilities like this one will help us safeguard New Hampshire’s Seacoast, protect our environment, and build a strong, 21st century workforce.”
“The incredible researchers, scientists, and students at UNH are leading the nation in developing innovative technologies and tools to map our oceans, coasts, and more,” said Congresswoman Kuster. “I’m thrilled to help announce this significant funding to help build a new Center of Excellence for Operational Ocean and Great Lakes Mapping right here in New Hampshire.”
“New Hampshire remains a leader in technology and innovation, and the continued partnership between NOAA and the University of New Hampshire plays a crucial role in this,” said Congressman Pappas. “This new Center will strengthen our ocean mapping research and operations, build a uniquely capable workforce, and bolster our coastal economy. I’ll continue working to secure resources that support our workforce and improve resiliency along our coast.”
The new facility will include office and instructional space, as well as a large, high-ceiling area with overhead cranes — known as a high bay — for storing, outfitting and staging bulky equipment and small vessels. Upon completion, the facility would provide a shared space for collaboration between NOAA staff from the Joint Hydrographic Center and Center of Excellence, UNH faculty and staff and ocean industry partners.
The Center of Excellence is funded through $10 million in NOAA’s fiscal year (FY) 2023 budget, and will complement existing research, technical expertise and advanced educational programs at the NOAA-UNH Joint Hydrographic Center and UNH’s Center for Coastal Ocean Mapping. The Center of Excellence will focus on the following priorities:
Ocean mapping data is the basis for researching, exploring and characterizing our nation’s ocean, coasts and Great Lakes in order to support maritime commerce, transportation and emergency response activities. Ocean and Great Lakes mapping provides foundational data for a wide range of key NOAA priorities, including modeling and forecasting water levels, currents, storm surge and tsunami inundation; fisheries habitat identification; marine protected area site selection and management; and environmentally sound offshore energy development.
Shaheen leads the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies, which funds NOAA. In the FY 2023 government funding law, Shaheen secured $6.37 billion for NOAA, which is an increase of $495 million or 8 percent over last year’s funding level. This includes $761 million for NOAA research, much of which pertains to combating the climate crisis. This funding will help coastal communities in New Hampshire and across the nation bolster their resilience to changing climate, as well as support ocean health and research. In 2020, Shaheen helped secure a $38.5 million NOAA grant for UNH to continue coastal mapping operations at the Joint Hydrographic Center.