FY2018 NOAA SBIR Phase I Solicitation
NOTE: The Solicitations and topics listed on this site are copies from the various SBIR agency solicitations and are not necessarily the latest and most up-to-date. For this reason, you should use the agency link listed below which will take you directly to the appropriate agency server where you can read the official version of this solicitation and download the appropriate forms and rules.
The official link for this solicitation is: https://go.usa.gov/xnrDZ
Application Due Date:
Available Funding Topics
- 8.1: 8.1 Integrated Earth System Process and Prediction
8.2: 8.2 Environmental Observations
- 8.2.1: 8.2.1 Portable, Fast, and Intelligent Phytoplankton Species-identifier and Counter
- 8.2.10: 8.2.10 Create the Next Generation National Water Level Observation Station
- 8.2.11: 8.2.11 Clean Energy Source to Power NOAA Long-term Observation and Monitoring Networks
- 8.2.12: 8.2.12 Inexpensive, Novel Weather Observing Systems
- 8.2.13: 8.2.13 Developing a Cost Effective Air-Deployed Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) for Use in Turbulent Environments
- 8.2.2: 8.2.2 Bottom Feeder - a Benthic Data Provider
- 8.2.3: 8.2.3 Automating Bearing and Distance Measurements in Big-Eye 25 x 150 Binoculars and Recording/Saving Images
- 8.2.4: 8.2.4 Improving Attachment Systems for Remotely-Deployed Cetacean Tags with External-Electronics
- 8.2.5: 8.2.5 Low-cost Mooring Location Beacon for Coastal Applications
- 8.2.6: 8.2.6 Next Generation Marine Visibility (FOG) Sensors
- 8.2.7: 8.2.7 Autonomous Mapping of the Hypoxic Zone in the Gulf of Mexico
- 8.2.8: 8.2.8 Under Keel Clearance Management in Support of Precision Navigation
- 8.2.9: 8.2.9 Open Water Surface ROV for Bathymetry
8.3: 8.3 Decision Science, Risk Assessment and Risk Communication
- 8.2.4: 8.2.4 Location-Specific Threat Tracking Tool For Better Warning Response
- 8.2.5: 8.2.5 Developing Low-Cost, High-nutrition Plant-based Feed for Finfish Aquaculture Operations
- 8.3.1: 8.3.1 Coral Restoration Outplanting
- 8.3.2: 8.3.2 Automated Tools for Detecting Entanglement Risks Associated with Aquaculture
- 8.3.3: 8.3.3 Development of “Permit Wizard” Software for Assisted Permit Application Completion
- 8.3.6: 8.3.6 Developing Monitoring Tools to Detect Disease in Marine Aquaculture Operations
- 8.4: 8.4 SBIR - Technology Transfer Topic
8.1 Integrated Earth System Process and Prediction
8.1.1 Radio occultation from recoverable air balloons for weather applications
8.1.2 Determining the timing and location of fish spawning
8.1.3 Calibration of Low-cost Air Quality Sensors
Radio occultation from recoverable air balloons for weather applications
Radio occultation from satellites have been proven very useful for numerical weather prediction, which in turn led to the commercial weather data pilot (CWDP) projects. However,
radio occultation from air balloons have not been explored previously. With the availability of low cost Global Positioning System (GPS) receivers and maturing technology, there appears
to be opportunities for measuring atmospheric profiles from recoverable air balloons, or even in conjunction with the radiosondes currently being launched. Therefore, this project provides an
opportunity to study the feasibility of radio occultation from air balloons which may have great commercialization potentials.
The goal is to demonstrate the feasibility by designing and developing a hardware/software system for balloon platform with sufficient quality for measuring global navigation satellite
system (GNSS) signals in retrieving atmospheric profiles such as temperature, moisture, and pressure through radio occultation. The balloon platform should reach heights of several
kilometers. The commercialization of this project highly depends on the success of the feasibility and data quality demonstrated.
Determining the Timing and Location of Fish Spawning
Summary: The reproductive life history of fish, including when and where they spawn (=release of eggs from ovary), has been critical to the proper management of a fish species in the commercial fishery. To increase catch, commercial fishermen have historically focused on aggregations of fish at the time of spawning and, in response; management agencies have used this information to assign fishing limits in an effort to sustain populations. An important tool for the management of fish is the analysis of population structure using genetic markers. Results of the analyses of genetic population structure have critical impacts on the management of a species since they may mean the difference between managing a species as a single entity or as separate populations across their range. Genetic population analyses based on samples taken from the wild rely on the supposition that fish from discrete reproductive populations are known and being assessed separately. Yet, for many species of fish this assumption is clearly violated since their spawning sites are unknown and DNA samples for genetic analysis are taken without this information (e.g., sablefish - Jasonowicz et al., 2017). 54 For a few species, the timing and location of spawning is known. However, for many marine fish, particularly deep-water species, it is not. This includes some of the most commercially important species such as sablefish and Pacific hake. Even for species such as halibut where some reproductive information is available, our knowledge is incomplete. For species such as Pacific hake, spawning information is essential for their management since changing climateocean conditions are altering seasonal migratory behaviors (Benson et al., 2002; Ressler et al., 2007). These changes have been hypothesized to have altered the timing and locations of spawning and how this impacts the assessment of population size for this species is unclear. While there has been significant development of tagging technologies (e.g., archival and acoustic tags) to follow the general movements of fish and to discern their habitat (e.g. depth and temperature) preferences, there has been relatively little effort to develop technologies that could determine when and where a fish spawns. There has been some research using radio transmitters or acoustic telemetry tags that are inserted into the ovary (via the oviduct) with the hypothesis that when spawning and egg release occurs, the tag is expelled from the ovary and can be detected by a receiver in the environment. If one could locate the tag then the location (but not timing) of spawning can be inferred. In these studies, the general tag locations were made by manually searching shoreline areas with receivers to detect signals (Pierce et al., 2007; Skovrind et al., 2013), or an existing acoustic telemetry array was employed (Binder et al., 2014). However, in all of these cases, some a priori knowledge of where the spawning locations were located was necessary to either search for the tags or to determine where to locate the telemetry arrays. This approach may have some probability of success in a very limited space such as a freshwater lake or shoreline, but would be impossible in a large open body of water such as the ocean. In addition, these methods do not define the timing of spawning. Clearly, when dealing with species in the ocean that have wide distribution, radio transmitters or acoustic telemetry cannot be used for this purpose. Further, this would be even more difficult for fish species that reside in deep water that would be inaccessible to manual searching with receivers or for telemetry array deployment. The Problem: A technology is needed that can determine the precise timing of spawning (=release of eggs from the ovary) and to link that event to the simultaneous determination of the geographic location of that spawning event. We hypothesize that, depending on how this problem is addressed other uses for this technology could be envisioned such as the archiving of other types of data from the fish (see project goals).
Project Goals: To solve this problem, a successful technology would be one in which the release of eggs from the female could be determined, the timing of that release recorded, and that information could subsequently be obtained by a researcher. In addition, the technology would have to also determine the geographic location at which the release of the eggs occurred. The release of eggs from the ovary (signaling spawning) might be directly monitored or, indirectly monitored through the simultaneous release of something that could be placed in the ovary and be used as a proxy for egg release. The egg proxy could then be used as a signal itself or as a trigger that could then initiate other processes such as the release of a tag (e.g., satellite popup tag) 55 that is attached to the fish. That tag could then be used to transmit or contain the information on the time and location of egg release. From past studies, we know that proxies such as miniature radio transmitters or acoustic tags can be expelled from the ovary at the time of spawning. It is then a matter of how to link these proxies with other technologies that would record that information and relay it to the researcher. In developing this technology, no a priori knowledge of where and when the spawning will take place can be assumed and it is unlikely that the fish itself will ever be recovered. Rather, the information on when and where spawning occurs has to be transferred independently to the researcher from where it is collected and could, therefore, involve some form of satellite transmission. While the technology in this subtopic proposal is being directed at solving the issue of where and when fish spawning takes place, it could also be used for other purposes depending on how the problem is solved. The general concept of detecting and archiving what is occurring in a fish over some period of time and then eventually relaying that information to an individual (researcher or other), could have significant applications in physiology (detecting and recording various internal parameters such as blood pressure), behavior (sensing the movements of predators or other neighboring fish such as those in a school), or surveillance (detecting the presence or movements of other objects such as marine mammals or ships). The use would depend on what precisely is placed into the fish and what that device could record.
Calibration of Low-cost Air Quality Sensors
Summary: The last several years have seen an explosion in the manufacture and use of low-cost sensors for the measurement of air pollutants. Such sensors offer the promise of distributed measurements of atmospheric pollutants over wide geographical areas, and as such have important potential applications for source attribution, local air quality, and human health/exposure. However, it is critical that the performance (accuracy, precision, selectivity) of these sensors be well characterized, and continually monitored during measurement periods. In particular, as with all air quality instrumentation, sensors need to be regularly calibrated, which represents a major challenge for large-scale networks (with hundreds or even thousands of sensor nodes). General approaches include laboratory-based calibrations (exposing sensors to known levels of pollutants under controlled, well-defined conditions) and co-location calibrations (placing sensors near high-fidelity regulatory-grade monitors). However, neither approach has been demonstrated as effective on a large scale.
Project Goals: Development of novel approaches for the evaluation and calibration of low-cost sensors during and after deployment. NOAA is presently developing an air quality forecasting capability which would greatly benefit from an expanded base of observations. The development of novel approaches for the evaluation and calibration of low-cost sensors during and after deployment is critical to the implementation of a cost effective air quality observing network. Such approaches could be physical systems, such as portable calibration setups or calibration modules internal to the sensor nodes, or be methodology-based, such as new algorithms or descriptions of “best practices” for calibration. The approaches developed must be suited for large-scale use, be applicable to in-use sensors, and provide a means by which sensor performance (accuracy, precision, etc.) can be described quantitatively. Calibration approaches could be focused on a particular sensor or class of sensors (e.g., measurements of a single gas-phase pollutant, or of the number or mass concentration of particulate matter), or be broadly applicable to low-cost sensors generally
8.2 Environmental Observations
8.2.1 Portable, fast, and intelligent phytoplankton species-identifier and counter
8.2.2 BOTTOM FEEDER a benthic data provider
8.2.3 Automating Bearing and Distance Measurements in Big-Eye 25 x 150 Binoculars and Recording/Saving Images
8.2.4 Improving Attachment Systems for Remotely-Deployed Cetacean Tags with External-Electronics
8.2.5 Low-cost Mooring Location Beacon for Coastal Applications
8.2.6 Next Generation Marine Visibility (FOG) Sensors
8.2.7 Autonomous mapping of the Hypoxic Zone in the Gulf of Mexico
8.2.8 Underkeel Clearance Management in support of Precision Navigation
8.2.9 Open water surface ROV for Bathymetry
8.2.10 Create the next generation national water level observation station
8.2.11 Clean energy source to power NOAA long-term observation and monitoring networks
8.2.12 Inexpensive, novel weather observing systems
8.2.13 Developing a cost effective air-deployed UAS for use in turbulent environments
8.2.1 Portable, Fast, and Intelligent Phytoplankton Species-identifier and Counter
Summary: Phytoplankton form the foundation of most aquatic ecosystems and therefore quantitative information about their species composition is critical for many fields of research and applications. For example, in coastal and inland waters, species-specific cell counts data can be useful for eutrophication assessment and detection of harmful algal blooms. Satellite water color remote sensing can potentially be a powerful tool for rapidly and cost-effectively retrieving information associated with phytoplankton composition, provided that large amount of field data obtained in diverse natural waters are available to develop this tool. Extant techniques to measure phytoplankton cell counts are inadequate to satisfy this need. The classical method requires a phytoplankton taxonomist, or a non-professional aided by books, to look through a microscope, recognize, and count manually. The process is tedious and time-consuming, and lacks consistency because it depends on who is counting. Some instruments use an alternative approach that replaces the microscope with an imaging instrument, but still require manual species identification. Some achieved automatic identification and quantification of phytoplankton cells down to individual species. However, they lack portability, speediness of data acquisition, and accuracy of species identification.
Project Goals: The objective of this subtopic is to develop a portable, fast, and intelligent instrument that can be used to automatically and accurately measure the cell number concentration of each individual phytoplankton species present in a given natural water sample. This is a challenging task considering that 1) in natural waters phytoplankton cells are mixed with non-living particles of similar size and abundance; 2) different phytoplankton species can vary greatly in size and morphology; and 3) phytoplankton cells can form chains or arbitrarily shaped colonies. We envision that the new instrument capable of addressing these challenges would require two essential components, image acquisition and artificial taxonomist. The image acquisition component is used to capture and record information about individual cells such as size, color, morphology, excitation-emission spectra, and etc., basically any information that can be used to extract unique traits to characterize a species. This component must have a sufficiently large throughput to provide statistically representative cell counts for at least dominant species in the sample. The artificial taxonomist component is used to replace the human taxonomist to identify the taxon of each unknown cell based on the information captured by the image acquisition component. Advanced image processing algorithms play a key role in this component. Expectations for Phase I include a detailed proof-of-concept report describing research results and technology development completed for the instrument, and a description of where the principal investigator expects the project to be at the end of Phase II, including a description of how this instrument will be commercialized.
8.2.10 Create the Next Generation National Water Level Observation Station
Summary: We have top level requirements. We have robust quality assurance, quality control, information management, and dissemination operational management processes. Our current generation measurement system is 15+ years old and resides within a large sail area (if impacted by Category 2 or greater winds), water plane area (if impacted by storm surge), NEMA 4x water tight enclosures with relatively weak appendages supporting antennas, solar panels, conduit, connectors, and sensors. This research will create that next evolutionary station that can support multiple sensors (water level, meteorological, HAB, current meter, etc.), store the data, survive, transmit the data near real time, be self-powered, permits remote troubleshooting & fixing, and self-positioned to the National Spatial Reference System and local datum within 0.1-cm sphere (in all directions).
Project Goals: Create the next generation lightweight small scale-able water level measurement system that can be deployed anywhere in the Continental United States, Alaska, Hawaii, and its territories and survive providing near real time data (every 6-min or 18-min) for processing, QA/QC, storage, & dissemination; used by partners & stakeholders. Must haves: remote troubleshooting, sustainable with maintenance visits every three to five years, survivable & operating in all locations in predictable environmental conditions over 50 years), surviving under 10-meters of water (return to continuous real time operation when storm surge or flooding recedes), and initial cost under $25,000 per station. A typical station can be seen on our tides and currents web site.
8.2.11 Clean Energy Source to Power NOAA Long-term Observation and Monitoring Networks
Summary: NOAA and other federal agencies have been maintaining and operating weather and ocean observation and monitoring networks to improve weather forecasts accuracy and build a weather-ready nation. Traditional battery technology limits the long-term observations and has 66 caused serious environmental concerns. Solar or wind–based power generation are also limited by the large footprint, high capital cost, high maintenance and low efficiency. They are difficult to scale up and integrate into existing NOAA’s monitoring and observation network. There is a strong need to develop a clean, low-cost, small footprint energy generation technology to power NOAA’s long-term monitoring and observation instrumentation networks. Clean power technology that uses water temperature gradient as power source for buoys and floats has been developed in the past decade. Similar techniques could also be developed to take advantages of diurnal air temperature difference, air-water, air-ice or water-ice interface to harness energy to power the weather or marine instrumentation and observation network. This option is particular attractive for instrumentation installed in remote, harsh environments such as desserts and arctic regions. This subtopic invites small, high-tech firms that specialize in power generation, clean battery, instrumentation design and system integration to develop a novel technology to address the above issue and evaluate technical requirements and feasibility for such system. Once the system reaches commercialization stage, not only will it enable NOAA long-term observation and monitoring capability at a much lower costs, at the same time, it would also address and improve four other major priorities outlined in the NOAA Strategic Research Guidance Memo (SRGM) as well.
Project Goals: The ultimate goal is to develop clean, renewable, low-cost, small footprint, low-maintenance technology to power NOAA’s long-term observation and monitoring networks. The system should also provide innovative and efficient means to integrate into existing observation and monitoring instrumentation platforms.
8.2.12 Inexpensive, Novel Weather Observing Systems
Summary: NOAA has fielded many valuable, but expensive, weather observing systems for use in initializing numerical weather prediction models and for environmental modeling. NOAA greatly needs complementary observing systems that are lower in cost and can provide plentiful, regular observations, ideally over more data sparse areas. These potential new observations would be assimilated directly into NOAA data assimilation algorithms and also would indirectly improve the assimilation of other observing systems by "anchoring" them. NOAA solicits SBIR proposals for the design and demonstration of observing systems meeting these criteria.
Project Goals: To build and demonstrate an inexpensive new observing system that will complement the existing observing system and improve NOAA's data assimilation quality and forecast quality
8.2.13 Developing a Cost Effective Air-Deployed Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) for Use in Turbulent Environments
Summary: For tropical, extratropical and polar storm systems the lower part of the boundary layer including the air sea interface is a critical region where energy is ultimately transferred from the ocean to the atmosphere. Adequately Sampling this environment however has been difficult due to a combination of safety and logistical limitations. Still, in order to better meet NOAAs mandate to protect property and save lives through improved forecasting, significant advancements in physical understanding and model improvement must be made. Existing observing systems responsible for capturing the lower atmosphere and upper ocean boundary environment associated with turbulent storms is currently very limited. NOAA p3 Measurements from GPS dropsondes, stepped frequency microwave radiometers and onboard Doppler radar only provide "instantaneous" values and are limited in nature. Doppler winds are not available below 500 meters and good dropsondes only provide very sparse coverage of atmospheric temperature and moisture in the lowest parts of the storm. Low flying, longer endurance "continuous" UAS should be able to dramatically improve kinematic (winds) and thermodynamic (temperature and moisture) coverage in this critical region of the storm. These types of observations, once they become routine, should significantly help improve NOAA’s future forecasts associated with these turbulent storm environments.
Project Goals: The successful project would ultimately develop and successfully test and operate an air deployed UAS in turbulent storm environment(s) using NOAA aircraft. The successful project would leverage existing onboard NOAA deployment systems (GPS or Airborne Expendable Bathythermograph (AXBT) sonobuoy launch) and utilize NOAAs one way advanced data system (Advanced Vertical Atmospheric Profiling System (AVAPS)).
8.2.2 Bottom Feeder - a Benthic Data Provider
Summary: NOAA’s diverse responsibilities include exploration, scientific studies for biogeochemical sensing, mapping, and other activities of the coastal and oceanic benthos. Two ongoing endeavors related to the benthos are optical measurements of the bottom albedo and ecosystems mapping within the euphotic zone, in particular coral reef mapping, with coincident spectral and coral health measurements. Technology exists for determination of optical properties of the ocean bottom, albeit in a time consuming, labor intensive method. Additionally technology exists in vehicle design, mapping and non-destructive, determination of coral health. These topics are also performed by separate manual, expensive, labor-intensive methods. These two endeavors can be further developed and integrated as multiple subsystems into a utilitarian, efficient, cost effective, innovative commercial system capable of many mission applications in addition to optical measurements and coral reef mapping with health assessments. These two related efforts are in line with NOAA’s Strategic Research Guidance Memorandum, “…development of novel sensing elements and platforms, with the end goal being to increase efficiency and reliability, improve data return, and reduce costs.” This concept of a multipurpose vehicle that feeds benthic data to the surface for further dissemination and analysis is referred to as NOAA’s Bottom Feeder.
Project Goals: Overall the Bottom Feeder is conceptualized as an AUV with alternate tethered capability for feeding bottom data to the surface. The submerged vehicle will be multifunctional, with initial primary functions of 1) provide optical data and 2) map coral reef ecosystems for depth range of zooxanthallate corals to mesophotic depths. The bottom feeder vehicle will need to maintain course and speed, provide position information, maintain a set distance from the bottom, horizontal and vertical operation, have a robust collision avoidance system, be capable of data transmission to the surface (via cable and wireless) and be freely autonomous or when conditions warrant, tethered operations. A dual power source is preferred, one for the vehicle, the other for the payloads. The power sources can be linked for ascending, either for retrieval or emergency situations. Provisions for ascending should be carefully considered, such as buoyancy shifted to the bow for collision avoidance system and controlled rate, with pinger and beacon activated. Rationale for the optical sensor(s) comes from a need of the remote sensing community. NOAA/NESDIS(National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service)/STAR (Center for Satellite applications and Research)/Coral Reef Watch is currently working with operational optical (ocean color) satellite sensor, Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) as well as other optical satellite sensors providing products in coastal waters, including over shallow water coral reefs. Bottom albedos (radiances) are issues that need to be corrected per bottom type. Thus one of our two primary systems on the autonomous vehicle is a device capable of measuring the visible portion of the electromagnetic spectrum (approx. 300-800 nm wavelengths) for current and anticipated future optical satellite mounted sensors. To collect useful optics from the benthos, a sensor(s) is required that measures irradiance (upward looking), measures a standard optical calibration plate, and measures the bottom radiances (downward looking) and transmit those data to the surface. Optical concerns need to be considered such as the sensor(s) subsystem may be configured such as on an extension from 59 the aft of the vehicle to avoid vessel shadow, but streamlined sufficiently to avoid entanglement or striking obstructions. Rationale for the mapping originates from NOAA and several other agencies responsible for the monitoring the extent and health of U.S. coral reef holdings worldwide. The mapping and health assessment of coral reefs requires long-term investment of human resources and expensive survey systems with support subsystems. Recent technology exists in vehicle design, mapping and non-destructive, fast determination of coral health. These technologies can be further developed and integrated into multiple subsystems for a utilitarian, efficient, cost effective, novel commercial multi-purpose vehicle. There are systems available for mapping coral reefs, including stereo color camera systems producing three dimensional and accurate geo-located mosaics. Many of these systems are diver controlled, following preset transects, which can be automated. Additionally high quality spectral imagery provides information that can be used in numerous applications, such as automated classification of the benthos. Imaging spectrometers have been providing data for terrestrial and aquatic applications and have been miniaturized. Mosaics of coral reefs of concern are possible with dual camera systems, providing stereo (3-D) and sharp imagery. In addition to dual cameras for a stereo and mosaic generation, the bottom feeder should have two additional sensor components, an imaging spectrometer and a non-destructive, fast response coral health monitor. The imaging spectrometer provides a spectral image, which can be co-located with the camera images for sharpening as well as augmenting the stereo image information for classifications. The coral health sensor will provide point data, in contrast to an image, intermittently along the transect for coral health and possible stressor exposure within the mapped mosaic. A video camera would provide useful supplemental information, especially during the system development. These two initial functions of the Bottom Feeder will directly provide data to NESDIS, NOS (National Ocean Service), NMFS (National Marine Fisheries Service) and Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research (OAR) as well as other State and Federal agencies, non-governmental organization (NGO), academic and commercial communities. Rationale for having modular or compartmentalized and power / attachment (compartment) interfaces are to provide for additional sensors both for NOAA as well as to increase the commercialization of the Bottom Feeder. The third function of the bottom feeder is to map deep-water benthic habitats with design for an exchangeable set of sensors, such as sonar systems, etc. Additional examples of sensors are only to be incorporated into a design interface or “hooks” for future applications for the bottom feeder. In addition to sensors, a sampler subsystem for water / sediment/ small materials needs to be designed into the bottom feeder. An example of future additional sensor plans include such aspects as efficient lights for deep ocean optical surveys with mounting or compartmental design. Whereas plans for modular or compartmental replacement of lights with e.g. sonar systems when non-optical surveys are conducted. The bottom feeder, being multi-functional and can operate within a wide range of depths in an autonomous mode or in a tethered mode having two applications (optical determination of the bottom and coral reef 3-D mosaic, spectral and health mapping) with built in capabilities for other future applications will provide NOAA, other agencies, academia, NGOs, and companies 60 a cost effective way to meet mission responsibilities and provide a highly competitive commercial system.
8.2.3 Automating Bearing and Distance Measurements in Big-Eye 25 x 150 Binoculars and Recording/Saving Images
Summary: Conducting marine mammal stock assessments is a core function of the agency to provide the scientific basis for marine mammal conservation. Traditional methods for estimating abundance, density, and distribution for multiple cetacean species rely almost exclusively on visual surveys conducted on-board ships. Visual surveys involve the use of “Big-Eye” 25 x 150 binoculars to manually scan for cetaceans to a maximum distance of about 11-13 km from the ship. Scanning is done by trained observers who locate and identify species and estimate group sizes, which are ultimately used to estimate population abundance and in the development of habitat models. Two key measures are obtained using the binoculars, which include bearing and reticle distance to the sighted animal. While the bearing measurement is easy to obtain with accuracy, the reticle distance however, is at best an estimate due to the motion of the vessel and sea state. In addition, reticle distance measurement errors can be compounded at distance and when the target animal is being tracked. Similar to theodolite readings obtained on land, an automated reading of bearing and reticle distance measurements would reduce or eliminate uncertainty while recording cetacean sightings. Further, a second issue is the lack of any photographic or video evidence of what the observer sees through the binocular. The availability of an image or video would help to verify species identification in situations where the animal is too far to identify or close-in approaches to verify species identification is not possible.
Project Goals: There is a need to design, test, and make commercially available Big-Eye binoculars that can digitally show reticle measurements and bearings as the binocular is swiveled by the observer and simultaneously be recorded in a computer database. A secondary goal is the ability to obtain images or video of the observer visual field during a sighting or tracking of animal.
8.2.4 Improving Attachment Systems for Remotely-Deployed Cetacean Tags with External-Electronics
Summary: In order to effectively manage protected species such as endangered or depleted cetacean populations, we require detailed knowledge of their broad-scale habitat use, movements, and migration patterns over the course of months or years in order to assess how they are affected by environmental factors and anthropogenic activities. To address this problem, researchers are increasingly turning to electronic tagging technology in order to track animals and provide 61 data needed for stock assessments and other management actions (Sheridan et al., 2007). Until the last decade, medium-sized cetaceans, including many of the toothed whales, could not be tagged because they were either too large to capture safely for direct application of electronic tags, or because they were considered too small to tolerate the recent generation of implantable satellite-linked tags that penetrate more than 20 cm into blubber (e.g., Mate et al. 2007). A significant reduction in the size of the transmitters, and the development of attachment darts a decade ago, allowed for the remote deployment of tags on small to medium size cetaceans, with the transmitter remaining external and only darts anchoring the tag to the tissue (Andrews et al. 2008). However, the dart design has remained essentially unchanged since then, but has experienced a high level of premature tag detachments. Thus, there is a need to redesign and commercialize an attachment system for improved tag retention in order to increase tag attachment duration. This attachment system should also minimize potential impacts to study species.
Project Goals: There is a need to design and test (addressing factors that likely impact attachment duration), and make commercially available an attachment system that improves the retention of a remotely deployed external –electronics satellite-linked tag used for tracking cetacean movements. It must also decrease the chance of any anchor element breakage, while improving existing performance. Performance improvements include consistent multi-month attachment durations while minimizing tissue impacts and risks to the tagged animal’s welfare.
8.2.5 Low-cost Mooring Location Beacon for Coastal Applications
Summary: A low-cost beacon based on less data intensive satellite transmission, or cell phone based network for highly populated coastal areas or enclosed estuaries, does not currently exist in the market, and would have a broad interest by scientists deploying moored instrumentation in coastal habitats. Needed features for a coastal mooring beacon include: surfacing detection; fast satellite data acquisition and transmission; extended battery life; waterproofing; and ruggedized design. Developing a low-cost beacon for the recovery of coastal mooring packages would open the market for coastal research project
Project Goals: There is a need for a low-cost beacon for the recovery of coastal, often shallow, research moorings. Typical offshore oceanographic moorings are instrumented with expensive equipment and the addition of a satellite beacon for their recovery is justified. However, these beacon's cost range is in the order of several thousand dollars (e.g., $3000 to $8000), which make them not affordable for smaller budget coastal projects, where the total cost of mooring packages is lower.
8.2.6 Next Generation Marine Visibility (FOG) Sensors
Summary: A new method and technology for remotely monitoring fog is needed to support physical oceanographic real time measurements for maritime commerce support. The current generation visibility sensors use a lot of power and infer visibility during reduced visibility at a local sensor nearest out 5 to 10 miles. To heat and remove condensation, they require commercial power. There is a model that uses large battery packs with large solar recharging for remote locations that has limited reliability, accuracy and precision. The current system has a high maintenance and replacement cost.
Project Goals: A technological leap is needed to provide remote autonomous real time visibility determination for maritime operations throughout the United States and its territories. Human watch standers at at USCG Vessel Traffic Service & Port Security Command Centers have interpolated the range and distance to incoming fog banks as have Marine Vessel Pilots and Navigators for over 50 years. Video cameras have indirectly tracked and measured distances to multiple fixed targets to determine relative visibility conditions over an entire bay or water way. This technological leap will create an autonomous low cost easily maintained (or renewed) very low power near real time detection and measurement system perhaps using grey scale analysis that has been applied to port access and vehicle under carriage security (explosive detection) monitoring operations. Images will be transmitted over our web services directly to communities, port authorities, navigation centers, & maritime operators in every coast, seaport, river, harbor, and inlet. The application may even find traction with the National Weather Service (NWS) for airport visibility monitoring.
8.2.7 Autonomous Mapping of the Hypoxic Zone in the Gulf of Mexico
Summary: The hypoxic zone in the northern Gulf of Mexico, a region devoid of life, occurs in an area that was once one of the most fertile fishing grounds in the region. Since the 60s and 70s, nutrient rich water flowing into the Gulf from the vast Mississippi River watershed, has caused an annually recurring hypoxic zone that extends over an area that can approach the size of New Jersey. Hypoxia is generally used to denote waters containing less than 2mg/l of oxygen and which are typically too low to support life, hence the common name of “dead zone” for severe hypoxia areas around the US. The largest dead zone in the US is in the Gulf of Mexico and a major effort to mitigate this dead zone has been undertaken since the early 2000’s by the interagency and multistate Hypoxia Task Force (HTF). Primarily focused on reducing watershed nutrient pollution, NOAA’s responsibilities to the HTF include providing the scientific understanding of the causes 63 of the hypoxic zone and its ecosystem impacts. Over the years, NOAA’s research investment has led to development of quantitative predictive models currently used to establish hypoxia mitigation goals and nutrient reduction targets needed by the States in the Mississippi River watershed to achieve those goals. NOAA’s assessment of HTF progress toward their hypoxia mitigation goal is based on hypoxic zone monitoring, currently very limited in scope despite the national interest in the issue. Adequate monitoring data are a fundamental need for proper calibration and validation of the predictive hypoxia models being used for decision-making. Current hypoxic zone monitoring is limited to one shelfwide survey per year due to limited funding to support the extensive ship surveys and fixed observation systems needed to monitor the area impacted by the dead zone on an annual basis. These issues are further compounded by the large size of the system and logistical constrains with measuring oxygen throughout the water column, especially near the bottom where hypoxia typically occurs. Gliders are widely recognized as an effective and cost-efficient monitoring tool for high spatiotemporal coverage of water quality parameters. They are routinely used for mapping parameters in regions where water column density gradients are low enough to enable adequate buoyancy control. The Gulf of Mexico dead zone, however, is a challenging environment for glider mapping because a large portion of it occurs in relatively shallow, highdensity gradient areas of the shelf or along bottom waters below the halocline. Glider deployments to date have not been able to fully map the dead zone due to the difficulty in controlling buoyancy in these conditions. For gliders to be operationally useful for hypoxia monitoring in the Gulf, there is an urgent need to overcome these multiple challenges in a cost effective manner while also maintaining data coverage and accuracy.
Project Goals: NOAA is seeking autonomous vehicle technologies that can resolve the challenge of mapping the Gulf dead zone effectively and cost-efficiently. The goals are to 1) substantially improve the monitoring capabilities currently implemented for the Gulf hypoxic zone, to 2) provide a costefficient mapping capability that could leverage operational support from interested partners as contribution to the Cooperative Hypoxia Monitoring Program (https://service.ncddc.noaa.gov/rdn/www/media/documents/activities/2016-workshop/HypoxiaProceedings-Paper-2016.pdf), currently in development, and, if successful, to 3) extend this technology to other environments where high density gradients in shallow waters have hampered glider applications to monitoring. Integrated, multiple autonomous vehicle platforms (e.g. gliders and autonomous surface vehicles) working synergistically to cover the full range of sampling environments are also encouraged. Current sampling methodologies rely on a shipbased platform to measure the annual dead zone (https://gulfhypoxia.net/). Proposed AUV technology should provide a similar capability, in both time and space, and be able to sample over the range of salinity, temperature, and depths encountered during the annual summer survey cruise.
8.2.8 Under Keel Clearance Management in Support of Precision Navigation
Summary: The United States marine transportation system is an essential driver of the U.S. economy. Every day, U.S. ports and waterways handle millions of tons of domestic and international cargo ranging from agricultural products to heating oil and automobiles. Every year the ships carrying the cargo are getting larger requiring deeper draft. One of the key factors is the clearance between the bottom of the ship and the seafloor – known as the under keel clearance – which is determined differently from port to port and is typically based on external factors such as the nature of the seafloor bathymetry, surface currents, water level, and weather. Improved accuracy in the management of underkeel clearance systems will enable a ship to take on more cargo safely. For example, for every extra foot of draft gained entering a port today’s larger cargo ships could load an additional 40,000 more barrels of crude oil. This equates to $2 Million of extra product that can be loaded for every foot of increased draft per transit. The International Hydrographic Organization (IHO) is working to standardize the display of Underkeel Clearance Management Systems to show real time go/no-go areas in critical navigation situations. This proposed project is to develop an underkeel clearance management system utilizing draft International Standards (S-129).
Project Goals: To develop an underkeel clearance management system based on draft IHO standards that can be utilized by Portable Pilot Units and Electronic Chart Systems to provide enhanced decision support for areas that fall under critical under keel clearance management areas.
8.2.9 Open Water Surface ROV for Bathymetry
Summary: In our damage assessment work, we have need for shallow water (could be <1m) bathymetric characterizations at centimeter accuracy (i.e., survey grade GPS) in open coastal waters. Currently, this work is performed by hand with staff in the water towing an instrument raft behind. This is highly inefficient, and not infrequently, depending on site conditions this can be an impossible task for snorkelers. We have investigated the market place for a more efficient solution, but have not found a costeffective solution that meets our demands.
Project Goals: The project goal is to design a remote controlled ROV hardware and software package to carry an integrated instrument package for bathymetry, capable of operating on the surface in open coastal waters. The instrument package would minimally combine a data logger, GPS, and depth sounder. The ROV should be able to operate in seas up to 1-2 feet. The depth sounder should produce data in waters as shallow as 1-2 feet. The GPS must be survey grade accuracy, and should receive GLONASS satellites. The data logger should integrate all data streams into a single record with 1 sec or less logging frequency. Optimally, the remote control unit would provide realtime feedback to the operator. Better still, the unit could be preprogrammed to operate within a given survey box. Data should be easily downloadable and exportable to desktop PCs for GIS processing.
8.3 Decision Science, Risk Assessment and Risk Communication
8.3.1 Coral Restoration Outplanting
8.3.2 Automated tools for detecting entanglement risks associated with aquaculture
8.3.3 Development of “Permit Wizard” software for assisted permit application completion
8.3.4 Location-Specific Threat Tracking Tool For Better Warning Response
8.3.5 Developing low-cost, high-nutrition plant-based feed for finfish aquaculture operations
8.3.6 Developing monitoring tools to detect disease in marine aquaculture operations
8.2.4 Location-Specific Threat Tracking Tool For Better Warning Response
Summary: Social scientists have indicated the importance of location-specific threat information for personal threat confirmation when it comes to correct response to NWS warnings. Warning areas tend to be many times larger than the actual area of imminent threat. People tend to ignore warnings without personal threat confirmation due to the very high location-based false alarm rate. The NWS has rather archaic tools for providing threat information…primarily in the form of generic text products. It is difficult to assess the threat specifics as to what, where, and when from these products. This unmet need exists because NWS field offices are restricted from creating such resources. The private sector has primarily created online applications that simply display radar imagery and warning polygons, with very little innovation beyond that. They may display automated or model-defined guidance such as storm track and future radar, but have very little forecaster-based threat guidance that may be more accurate and timely, and the output may be difficult for a non-scientist to understand. The only tool that NWS field offices have for providing location-specific threat information is social media posts, for which the information provided, and access by the public, is generally limited, and as a privately owned entity, could become unavailable to the NWS in the future. The NWS needs an innovative tool that allows forecasters to easily provide real-time threat tracking information to be used by the public to confirm the existence and location of a weather- or water-related hazard. Likewise, a tool that allows a user to create their own alert criteria based on his needs, communicated in a manner a non-scientist can understand, is not presently available. Providing the best threat information possible, in support of the NWS mission of protecting life and property and enhancing the national economy requires an innovative online resource that 72 allows NWS field office staff to track and alert people to a variety of weather- and water-related hazards, and provide this information in a form that non-scientists can understand. Such a resource, that supports the NWS mission, would be of value to all residential and business entities, and thus have considerable commercial value. TV meteorologists across the country, for example, could provide the resource output to their viewers.
Project Goals: The NWS needs a truly innovative resource that provides location-based threat information on the following hazards for which warnings are issued:
- Tornadoes and Severe Thunderstorms
- Floods - Hurricanes and Storm Surge
- Winter Storms
- Extreme Heat and Cold
It could optionally provide a means for NWS staff to provide threat information on other deadly hazards for which warnings are not issued, including:
- Excessive Lightning
- Rip Currents
Innovation can focus on how NWS staff could provide the following to the public through this resource. Some potential examples:
- Accurate hazard tracks and pathcasts (based on an entered motion vector)
- Simple threat indications for hazards that the non-scientist can understand (e.g. green, yellow, red stoplight colors based on threat level).
- Linkage to appropriate threat response information for a given hazard and threat level.
- Incorporation of real-time radar imagery with a feature to indicate user’s location.
The desired online resource would achieve the following goals:
• Have a means for NWS staff to develop hazard tracking displays (e.g. tornado signature track, hail core location/track, etc.) that can be easily accessed and interpreted by the general public as well as specific user groups (e.g. emergency managers, hospitals, etc).
• Have an efficient means of displaying the following hazard threats: winter storm conditions, severe t-storm, tornado, flood, hurricane, excessive lightning, extreme heat/cold, etc), perhaps incorporating a threat level color coding that a non-scientist would understand (e.g. green, yellow, red stoplight colors).
• Have a means for alerting the user based on user-defined criteria (e.g. alert me for baseball or larger hail, excessive lightning, etc) rather than NWS-established criteria or warning type.
• Have a simple means for NWS staff to provide and adjust information through this resource, particularly for rapidly changing situations.
• Be able to incorporate existing useful data sets, such as real-time radar imagery and animations.
• Be able to plot warning areas, as well as allow NWS staff to plot location and track of particular hazards (e.g. tornado).
This project requires considerable innovative thinking. While there are online applications that provide a few of the above goals (e.g. warning alerts, radar displays, etc), there is no known application that accomplishes all of the above goals in a manner that is easy for non-scientists to interpret.
If successfully designed, it aims to be the most powerful threat resource provided by the NWS in meeting its WeatherReady Nation mission to create communities that are more resilient to disasters. It would have considerable commercial value given its potential utility for every person, business entity, government entity, school, etc.
8.2.5 Developing Low-Cost, High-nutrition Plant-based Feed for Finfish Aquaculture Operations
Summary: The U.S. imports more than 80% of the seafood we eat by value, half of which is from aquaculture produced in other nations. Future projections show that there will be a global supply gap, and the U.S. could position itself to help fill the shortfall. Although a small producer, the U.S. is a major player in global aquaculture, supplying a variety of advanced technology, feed, equipment, and investment to other producers around the world. Domestically, the U.S. marine aquaculture industry contributes to the nation’s food security and supports a growing amount of economic activity in coastal communities and at working waterfronts in every coastal state and the Great Lakes. Currently, most production – approximately two-thirds by value – consists of bivalve mollusks such as oysters, clams, and mussels, while salmon and shrimp constitute most of the rest. Rapid advances in research and technology have helped catalyze the expansion of this industry to include a greater diversity of finfish species that can be raised in monoculture or multi-trophic operations (i.e., pens that include seaweed, shellfish, and/or finfish). Though there are many variables that may affect the profitability of a commercial finfish operations, getting easily accessible, costeffective and nutritious feed that has minimal impact on the surrounding environment significantly affects the bottom-line for all producers. While finfish aquaculture operations in the past have relied upon fishmeal or fish processing byproducts as a primary ingredient for the feed, using fish to produce more fish is expensive, wasteful, at times difficult to obtain, and creates other untended impacts to the environment. In recent years, significant scientific advances have been made to create fish feeds that are comprised mostly of plant-based products, with the addition of essential proteins, vitamins and amino acids needed for fish survival and rapid growth. There have also been many advances in making the feeds water soluble, which can help mitigate some of the excess organic waste from accumulating on the seafloor below the cages that may, exacerbate water quality problems in adjacent areas.
Project Goals: The goal is to have a business develop and market a low-cost, highly-nutritious plant-based feed that can be used as feed for a variety of finfish aquaculture operations. The potential 74 market for such cost-effective and environmentally safe fish feeds is huge, ranging from commercial finfish aquaculture operations to fish hatcheries used to augment species recovery in the U.S. and around the world. The project would provide funds and incentive for a business to comprehensively assess the rapidly changing scientific advances related to fish feeds for various species, assess needs from the commercial industry, and develop a commercially viable product that can be used to feed fish, while minimizing impacts to ecosystems or the water quality. If successful, this effort could contribute to establishing the U.S. as a leader in the production of non-fish protein feed for aquaculture products world-wide.
8.3.1 Coral Restoration Outplanting
Summary: Coral reefs provide food and livelihood to millions of people and their ecosystem services (e.g. tourism, fishing, coastal protection) are valued at $30B/year globally and $100M/year in the U.S. Preserving the critical socio-economic functions that corals reefs provide necessitates a multi-pronged approach that ranges from actions at the global to local level. Globally we need to dramatically and rapidly abate ocean warming, and locally we need to manage overfishing and pollution, while at the same time repopulating target reefs with resilient, genetically diverse, and reproductively viable populations through active restoration. Active coral 68 restoration has been occurring in the Caribbean basin for 15 years, and due to the dramatic decline in coral reef health and extent, has been growing globally as both a conservation management strategy and a method to promote tourism. Corals for repopulation can originate from existing nurseries where they are fragmented, or millions of naturally produced eggs and sperm can be brought to a lab or nursery and reared. Either way the corals must be grown in land-based or in-water nurseries until they are large enough to “plant” on a reef. While some biological questions remain, the obstacles to achieving restoration at scale are primarily in the realm of increasing efficiency and drastically reducing the amount of time it takes to deploy corals to the reef. We need to scale up from deploying thousands of corals at a time to hundreds of thousands or even millions of corals at a time. The primary method of coral restoration for the past several decades has been fragmenting existing corals (primarily branching corals), growing them to a larger size in in-water nurseries, and then transporting them and “outplanting” them to appropriate reef sites for restoration. This technique has been used for several decades, primarily with Elkhorn and Staghorn coral in the Caribbean. The structures used for in-water nurseries have evolved over the years and vary in cost, ability to withstand currents and hurricanes, minimize biofouling, and other factors. Some methods include small concrete or ceramic tile “plugs” screwed into cinder blocks, and fragments of branching coral tied with fishing line to cinder block and rebar “apartment blocks”, PVC “trees” anchored to the shallow seabed, or “clotheslines”. So far the most optimal designs have involved floating structures that minimize biofouling. However, even the most optimal designs are designed to repopulate small scale restoration projects that are perhaps 100m^2 and the biggest bottleneck of all is the “outplanting” phase. It is estimated that over 150 organizations globally are engaged in coral restoration, with at least that same number showing interest in beginning restoration work. Coral restoration is a growing segment in both the non-profit, for-profit, coastal protection, government mitigation, and tourism development space. The highest cost for performing restoration currently is associated with diver and vessel time. The industry is currently lacking a design for an efficient in-water floating nursery structure that can be coupled with an equally efficient method to collect corals off of the nursery structure and ”outplant” a reef restoration site. The coral nursery structure should accommodate a minimum of 1000 coral fragments of Caribbean Elkhorn coral (~4 cm at deployment to nursery and growing to ~20cm at outplanting). The structure should be deployable by two divers in a single one-tank SCUBA dive (~1 hr). Structure should feature a simple and rapid method for coral attachment / detachment, be stable when exposed to heavy weather, minimize/eliminate biofouling, be reusable for at least five years, and cost less than $250 when deployed at scale. The re-attachment to reef method should be such that 3000 ~20cm Elkhorn corals can be “outplanted” to a reef restoration site and the nursery structure can be re-stocked with ~4cm coral fragment in less than one day. Such new technology that radically decreases diver-coral interaction time, will increase the number of corals that can be deployed per unit time, and would be readily paid for by the many large and small scale organizations using these techniques.
Project Goals: Coral reef restoration is expanding rapidly and globally. There is a broad ecological and socioeconomic need for coral restoration, and there is an untapped market for efficient coral nursery structures that are affordable, easy and quick to set up, and allow for the rapid deployment of grown corals onto the reef. There are many slight variations and modifications but the basic current methodology is:
• A nursery structure is erected underwater in a shallow, easily accessible environment.
• Coral fragments are attached by tying individual coral fragments with fishing line to the in-water nursery structure.
• The structure is cleaned of biofouling organisms during the coral growth period,
• When the coral is ready to be planted it is untied from the structure, placed in a bucket and moved to the reef restoration site.
• At the reef restoration site, the coral is glued onto the reef with underwater epoxy.
The overall project goal is to increase the efficiency of coral restoration by improving the design of both in-water nursery structures and the “outplanting” of corals from the structures to the reef restoration site. The nursery structure should be designed to:
• deploy in ~1 hr by 2 SCUBA divers
• hold 1000 ~4cm Elkhorn coral fragments that can grow to ~20cm each
• attach and detach corals rapidly (such that structures can be restocked and ~3000 ~20cm diameter Elkhorn corals can be planted in one day)
• cost $250/unit, given mass market fabrication, and a 10 unit minimum purchase
Prefabricated, inexpensive, but sturdy structures, with simple attachment/detachment sites, and a method for getting these corals onto the reef rapidly would change this industry entirely. Using snaps or small cement or ceramic tiles that could be wedged onto the reef could increase efficiency by >10 times. If the SBC technology is successful and affordable, communities/localities world-wide that rely on coral reefs as their economic engine through recreation and tourism will pay for this, as will large-scale coral restoration NGOs, and government agencies that engage in mitigation. 8.3.2 SUBTOPIC: Automated Tools for Detectin
8.3.2 Automated Tools for Detecting Entanglement Risks Associated with Aquaculture
Summary: Machine vision and/or artificial intelligence tools to detect and respond to entanglement risks specifically associated with aquaculture operations in coastal or offshore environments (e.g. entanglements of offshore marine aquaculture systems and gear with marine mammals and turtles, or other species of concern). Creation and deployment of a system that can anticipate entanglement events and potentially deter the animal and/or alert aquaculture operators when there is either an increased likelihood of an entanglement, or an actual entanglement event. This could be real time detection/monitoring or a combination of real time detection and 70 modeling. The next step would be to act on the information provided by that tool; systems which could respond (or at least have a pathway to effect a response) to risks with deterrent and mitigation and measures and are preferred.
Project Goals: Risk of entanglements caused by aquaculture installations creates a critical roadblock for many interested parties seeking to obtain aquaculture permits in the US. Currently, the only tools available would be sensors and cameras that might be capable of alerting farm managers to an active crisis, but there is nothing that could help them avoid a crisis before it occurred. Particularly for unmanned farm sites that could exist several miles offshore, early detection of risks could provide deeply valuable protection. Most of the entanglement events that could occur at an aquaculture installation remain unknown to the operators without a human site visit. Animals that become entangled stand very little chance of surviving/escaping, but paying salaries and ensuring the safety for 24 hour staffing to monitor a farm site is prohibitively expensive. If affordable technology could be developed and deployed that could sense animals likely to become entangled and deter them, and/or immediately alert farmers if an entanglement has occurred, they could take a very rapid, specific action in response (as opposed to visiting the site, discovering a problem and having to make a return trip to the site to resolve it). In addition to protecting marine mammals and other species of concern, this type of system could potentially prevent damage to equipment, escape events, and tremendous time and expense to operators incurred while resolving entanglements. Providing farmers with a tool to reliably and affordably avoid and/or cope with animal entanglements will significantly improve success rates of permit applications and allow for increased growth of US aquaculture. Potential buyers of this technology will be aquaculture producers who have a need for farm-side monitoring that can alert them to events that threaten their crops and/or equipment. Research institutions would also purchase these to protect experimental farms and research installations.
8.3.3 Development of “Permit Wizard” Software for Assisted Permit Application Completion
Summary: Develop an automated or semi-automated permit assistant for marine aquaculture. Similar to tax preparation programs available to the public, programs should be template based, draw on existing documents and laws in the public domain, and be used on a fee-for-service basis with the result being dramatically reduced time/effort for completion of permit documents (Environmental Assessments, Environmental Impact Statements, Corps of Engineers permits, and so on), with improved information quality and consistency, less expense and improved permit reviews. Electronic assistants may focus on any area of marine aquaculture permitting, for any agency permitting process, and/or could provide “one stop” services for multi-agency permit applications. Those focused on federal permit requirements are preferred.
Project Goals: Aquaculture producers are currently faced with slow, complex and often confusing permitting processes that must be completed before they can begin operations. The concern over placing significant time and investment into completing and submitting a permit application only to have it rejected is deterring much needed investment in aquaculture. Having an automated tool to speed up and improve the accuracy of the permit application process will result in more permit applications being filed and more permits being awarded. Projects must demonstrate a high degree of accuracy and completeness when providing a final product to their customers, and must demonstrate the capacity to incorporate frequent and potentially unanticipated updates to laws, regulations and policies that influence the permit process and permitting decisions. Potential buyers of this software could include state or federal permitting agencies who have are responsible for managing the permit process, reviewing incoming permit applications and then approving and issuing permits related to aquaculture. Primary users of this software will be aquaculture producers who are seeking to obtain or renew permits associated with aquaculture activities.
8.3.6 Developing Monitoring Tools to Detect Disease in Marine Aquaculture Operations
Summary: The U.S. marine commercial aquaculture industry contributes to the nation’s food security and supports a growing amount of economic activity in coastal communities and at working waterfronts in every coastal state. Currently, most production – approximately two-thirds by value – consists of bivalve mollusks such as oysters, clams, and mussels, while salmon and shrimp constitute most of the rest. There is great interest from government and industry to help expand the industry, especially for shellfish operations in coastal areas. Because the shellfish industry relies on natural environments, often located close to shore, it presently faces various risks from poor water quality issues, including infectious disease and pathogens. Such risks are of great concern to the industry as infected stock cannot be sold due to public health concerns. There is an urgent need to build upon scientific advances to develop low cost, near real-time precision instruments that can detect one or more types of pathogens, such as Vibrio. While scientific research has made advances in being able to detect in situ pathogens, such as Vibrio, the technology has not yet been produced at a low cost for commercial use. The ability to deploy such instruments on or nearby individual production cages or tanks, would greatly help the industry quickly detect and respond to poor water quality events. Businesses could use such timely information to guide day-to-day operations and decision-making and increase profits.
Project Goals: The goal is to have a business develop a low cost, easy-to-use, and highly accurate monitoring instrument that can be easily deployed at finfish or shellfish aquaculture facilities around the nation to detect one or more common pathogens, such as Vibrio. The project would permit a comprehensive assessment of recent scientific advances in this field, articulate the precise needs from the industry, and then develop a commercial product that meets those needs in a cost-effective manner.
8.4 SBIR - Technology Transfer Topic
8.4.1 Miniature Open Path CRDS Instrument
8.4.1 Miniature Open Path CRDS Instrument
Summary In 2017, NOAA received U.S. Patent 9,709,491 for its innovative System and Method for Measuring Aerosol or Trace Species. The instrument based on this patent is known as an Open Path Cavity Ringdown Spectrometer (OPCRDS). NOAA is seeking one or more private sector partners to develop a light-weight, miniature version of the instrument for use on drones, balloon-launched instrument packages, or other useful applications. Closed-path cavity ringdown spectrometers transfer a sample through inlet tubing to the optical cavity where its extinction is measured; however, substantial sample loss may occur in the inlet tubing, which can bias the measurements. For example, with aerosols, coarse particles or humidified particles may be inadequately characterized due to either impaction losses with the inlet tubing or evaporation during transport through the tubing. The purpose of the OPCRDS is to eliminate these artifacts and thereby provide a more accurate means of measuring aerosol extinction under a very broad range of ambient atmospheric conditions. A novel feature of the open-path design is that it overcomes the problem of auto-correlated extinction measurements that can arise with closed-path CRD instruments; this is discussed in section 4.1 of the published report on the OPCRDS. Another novel feature of the OPCRDS is the zeroing mechanism which is described in the patent.
Project Goals: The NOAA Open Path CRDS was developed for the Earth System Research Laboratory in Boulder, CO, in order to support the lab’s aerosol monitoring research activities. The fullsized instrument, which is used for in-situ atmospheric measurements, has been licensed to a U.S. company for commercialization. The miniature version of the instrument is a separate embodiment listed in the patent and has not currently been licensed. Although a prototype of the miniature instrument does exist, interested companies should propose their own design and should be capable of developing the complete instrument based on the proposed end use(s). The goal of the project is to develop a commercially viable instrument that could be used for one or more applications. Companies specializing in scientific instrumentation for the federal, state, and academic markets, both domestic and international, may wish to apply. However, commercially viable applications outside environmental modelling will also be considered. Interested companies should clearly demonstrate plans to attract customers other than NOAA for any product they are seeking to develop. Companies submitting a successful proposal will receive a one-year, no-cost research and development license (see Reference below) which may be renewed under Phase II, should the Phase I activities be deemed successful