Northern Gulf Institute (NGI)
The Northern Gulf Institute is a NOAA cooperative institute which was developed through research done by the GRI. Research efforts of MSU researchers and other academic partners focus on the Northern Gulf of Mexico ecosystem.

AmoebaNet- Testing Advanced Network Capabilities Using GeoFish and OceanNOMADS
This project supports the development of NOAA's NMFS/AFSC. It will use advanced networks to link two existing resources for modeling- the OceanNOMADS server and GeoFish and to test the use of a centralized data store with a local application for advanced modeling and interaction.
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Assessing the Impact of Ordinances, Outreach and Enforcement on the Resiliency of Gulf Coastal Watersheds
This study explores the link, if any exists, between ordinances and regulations and NGO's (non-governmental organization) compared to water quality. GIS is used to map the codes and regulations, NGO's and water quality spatially. This allows for data analysis that can reveal relationships between watershed regulation and water quality. The spatial data gathered in Year 1 will inform the development of focus group topics and questionnaires as the study continues.
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Coastal Ocean Color Trade Study
GRI scientists have created a system of unique data sets to enable a better understanding of environmental processes that occur in coastal environments. Coastal and inland waters and their environments were targeted for the initial mission due to their importance to various aspects of human activity and the inability of current systems to accurately sense these unique environments. This mission works in support of the planned GEO-CAPE satellite mission that monitors these environments and is critical for evaluating and understanding the spatial variations and dynamics associated with coastal environments.
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Coastal Resiliency from Hurricane Impacts
Coastal wetlands provide a line of defense for coastal communities against hurricane impacts. The wetlands can reduce wind, wave, and surge energy which will in-turn reduce the damaging effects of hurricanes on coastal infrastructure and communities. Research has been developed to improve our understanding of coastal resiliency from hurricane impacts in regards to wetland areas. This was achieved by using integrated numerical modeling and in-situ observations and remote sensing techniques.
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Cost Effective BMPs for Resilient Communities
This project developed a tool that will enable the development industry to design and build more resilient and sustainable communities through the inclusion of BMPs (Best Management Practices) in new commercial and residential construction.
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Developing a Foundation for Analysis of Natural and Human-Induced Disturbances to Coastal Economies
This project focuses on the relationship between people and the ecosystems, resources, and hazards of the Gulf Coast. Because almost all human decisions are dependent on time, uncertainty (risk), cost, and expected benefits, this project can shed light on how the choices of coastal residents, businesses, and other entities are influenced by those characteristics unique to the coast. Furthermore, because economic analysis is always geared toward understanding the value of things and how these values influence decisions, this project will provide a wide range of cost and benefit estimates that can be utilized by decision-makers at all levels to make choices that improve the quality of life along the Northern Gulf Coast.
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Development of a Northern Gulf of Mexico Operational Forecast System
The NOAA National Ocean Service's Physical Oceanographic Real-Time Systems (PORTS) along the northern coast of the Gulf of Mexico will provide real-time oceanographic data to promote safe and efficient navigation. The Northern Gulf Institute, through Mississippi State University, will manage and coordinate this Operational Forecast System (OFS) University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth project activity in the development of a model to support the PORTS. A global or basin-scale model will provide boundary conditions to a proposed northern Gulf of Mexico Shelf domain model.
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FloodViz: Visual Analytics for Assessment and Interpretation of Simulated River Flooding
The FloodViz project involves the development and testing of visual analytics software to enable scientists and forecasters to better interpret and distribute hydrologic information. This software will be useful in the research community as an interpretation tool for river level and flood data. The tools developed serve as a useful platform for hydrologic forecasters within the National Weather Service to more quickly and accurately determine areas at risk for flooding and allow NOAA river forecasters to better visualize the extent of flooding. Additionally, these tools allow forecasters to relay more information to the emergency management community while issuing forecasts to help protect lives, property and the nation.
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Forecasting Episodic Changes in Hurricane Intensity and Structure over the Gulf of Mexico
The primary goal of this proposed initial one-year project is to provide greater insight into forecasting time-sensitive trends of rapid formation, changing intensity, and changing wind field area (or size) of hurricanes over the Gulf Mexico in the interest of reducing the uncertainty in the risk posed to Gulf Coast residents and infrastructure. The focus would be to identify key features or processes present in the ambient atmosphere and in the Gulf of Mexico that led to critical episodic changes in the intensity and structure of recent hurricanes: Humberto, Gustav, and Ike.
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GeoVol-Geospatial Volume Rendering
This project created software using direct volume rendering techniques that achieved real-time performance and high image quality. A user study was conducted to compare the implemented volume rendering technique with state-of-the-art isosurface rendering to examine hurricane data. The results of the study established that both volume rendering and isosurface visualizations were effective in examining data from computer simulations of hurricanes. Because of the higher image quality and the interactive frame rates, direct volume rendering was preferred. Future studies will be conducted to quantify performance differences between using the traditional 2D methods and the 4D methods.
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Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative (GoMRI)
Since the establishment of the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative (GoMRI) in 2010, the Northern Gulf Research Institute (NGI) has played an active role in the GoMRI program. NGI is a member of the GoMRI management team, providing support for program administration, communications and outreach. GoMRI is a 10-year, $500-million independent research program established by an agreement between BP and the Gulf of Mexico Alliance to study the effects of the Deepwater Horizon incident and the potential associated impact of this and similar incidents on the environment and public health.
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Health and Productivity of Louisiana Salt Marshes
This study will allow the identification of hotspots of marsh degradation in Louisiana by evaluating marsh biophysical characteristics including distribution of chlorophyll content, green leaf area and green marsh canopy cover. This assessment of marsh health and productivity is due to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. NASA's Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) satellite images will be used to retrieve and map these characteristics across the coastal Louisiana salt marshes before and after the spill. The maps and tools produced from the study will be helpful to coastal managers across Louisiana as they evaluate and prioritize the marsh restoration effort which will take place due to the oil spill. Tangible map products will be generated for the first time that can quantitatively assess the effect of the restoration activities and speed of marsh ecosystem recovery.
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Hurricane Landfall Estimation and Storm Surge
The storm surge of Hurricane Katrina, which made landfall in Mississippi and Louisiana in 2005, was unprecedented for its elevation, area coverage, and levee breaches. Due to the storm surge, areas along the Gulf Coast were severely flooded and destroyed. GRI is addressing recent Mississippi and Louisiana storm surge issues using the finite element model ADCIRC. The research will facilitate answers to the sensitivity of the storm surge in Mississippi to wind profiles of major hurricanes, as well as to hurricane eye size and landfall estimation.
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Information Semantic Approach for Resource and Knowledge Discovery in an Integrated Ocean Observing System
This project will develop an Integrated Oceans Observing Systems compliant pilot that uses semantic web technologies and web services to enable resource and knowledge discovery among private and public data sets within the northern Gulf of Mexico. This will provide more timely predictions of natural hazards and their impacts; to sustain, protect and restore healthy marine and estuarine ecosystems; and to sustain, protect and restore marine resources.
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Integrated Ecosystem Assessment (IEA) Tool
This research was implemented as part of an overall Ecosystem Approach to Management (EAM). It looks at all indicators, such as tourism and recreation, climate change, fish populations and conservation and energy demands to evaluate ocean health. In the past, scientists, because of the limits of scientific knowledge and technology could only concentrate on individual segments and species of the ocean. The EAM approach using IEA management assessment tool allows them to combine data and look at the ocean as a whole. Research is being carried out at four sites in the Northern Gulf of Mexico: Perdido Bay, Florida; Mississippi Sound, Mississippi; Barataria Basin, Louisiana; and Galveston Bay, Texas.
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Linking Cultural, Biological and Economic Values into Wetland Programs: Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians' Pearl River Wetland Demonstration Project
This project aims to develop procedures for more reliably regenerating rivercane and for planting potential restoration sites in the Coastal Plain, and for maintenance of stands for cultural use by native peoples. We are assessing ecological factors associated with the establishment and maintenance of rivercane stands, developing methods for vegetative propagation of rivercane from rhizome segments, and attempting to transfer our findings directly to the Choctaw and other American Indian groups through local and regional symposia, workshops, and field days.
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National Data Buoy Center- Protecting Weather Data Buoys
NGI researchers assist NOAA's National Data Buoy Center with protecting weather data buoys from damage by analyzing the electronic equipment aboard the device. Buoy maintenance and upgrades cost an estimated $10 million a year, so preserving them becomes a priority and are a vital part of the National Weather Service's observation systems. They provide wind speed and direction, wave height, pressure changes and other key data about marine conditions.
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Naval Coastal Ocean Model (NCOM)/Hybrid Coordinate Ocean Model (HYCOM)
NOAA's Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research entrusted GRI to study two versions for each of these models- their global and Gulf of Mexico adaptations. Data was analyzed from instruments tethered to floating and moored buoys, as well as unmanned gliders that look like miniature submarines. The goal was to determine the accuracy of the four model forecasts, as well as their ranking with respect to each other.
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NGI/NOAA Diversity Internship Program
NGI and NOAA have collaborated to create this program which started back in 2008. It was created to answer the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) profession's appeal for help to find more qualified professionals. Since its inception, the program has provided workforce experiences for 64 higher education students. The program's unifying characteristic is a research or work-effort focus on the Gulf of Mexico through intern projects.
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NGI/NOAA Hypoxia Workshops
NGI and NOAA are conducting annual workshops to attract top scientists from around the world to solve hypoxia in aquatic systems. Hypoxia, a low oxygen condition, has been and decades long problem in the Gulf of Mexico. It is created when nitrates from farm fertilizer and manure mixed with sewage and runoff from suburban lawns, flow 800 miles down the Mississippi River to the Gulf of Mexico. It is here that this potent blend feeds algae that bloom, die and decompose, robbing the Gulf's waters of oxygen and creating a dead zone each summer. The workshops provide a forum to share monitoring and modeling output data and coordinate Gulf hypoxic zone research that help to inform and refine management plans.
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NGI/NOAA National Data Buoy Center (NDBC)
The Center located at the John C. Stennis Space Center has created a partnership to help the next generation of atmospheric scientists transfer classroom knowledge into real-world research experiences. Future and veteran researchers examine measurements of wind speed and direction, air temperature, rainfall and ocean temperature to assess conditions in the ocean that help forecast weather.
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Northern Gulf Institute Integrated Education and Outreach Program
Under this project, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Mississippi State University (MSU) and Dauphin Island Sea Lab (DISL) will work together to lead the effort to combine education and outreach into a single integrated program of a two year duration focusing on issues and opportunities in the Northern Gulf. By implementing education and outreach at the organizational level, drawing on the strengths of the NGI partners and NOAA education and outreach professionals in the Northern Gulf region, and maintaining an identifiable presence at each NGI partner by building a team with members at each institution, the education and outreach activities will increase the visibility and understanding of NGI research and will assist the integration of NGI research across partners and scientific themes.
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Satellite Rainfall Applications for Surface Hydrology
GRI has evaluated results which examine how soil moisture states simulated by land surface models are impacted when forced with various precipitation datasets. These datasets are from a collection of Global Precipitation Mission satellite constellation configurations gathered over the continental United States.
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Sediment and Mercury Path and Fate Modeling
Sediments are the main repository of mercury in the coastal Gulf of Mexico as well as the site of transformation of inorganic mercury to methylmercury, the more toxic form which is bioaccumulated in fish and enters into the food webs. This project develops methods which predict the path and fate of sediment and mercury in the Gulf coastal region from entry point to fish stocks.
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Spatial Technology and High Performance Computing for Improving Prediction of Surface Water Quality
This project will contribute generally to improved coastal management decisions by demonstrating the best use of new data and modeling technologies for ecosystem management. It will specifically lead to improved management of Mobile Bay, with benefits to the Alabama-Mississippi coastal zone and Mississippi Sound.
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Spatial Variation and Temporal Trend of Water Quality
NGI conducted ground truth observations and standardize algorithms to produce and evaluate the spatial and temporal variations of water quality parameters in the Northern Gulf of Mexico (NGOM). The effort is aimed at improving the monitoring of the NGOM ecosystem based on remote sensing and understanding the dynamics of harmful algae blooms in the region.
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Stennis Exploration Command Center
The Exploration Command Center (ECC) is based at the Mississippi State University Science and Technology Center located at the John C. Stennis Space Center. MSU's High Performance Computing Collaboratory and NOAA's Coastal Data Development Center's technological collaboration has enabled engineers aboard research vessels in the Gulf of Mexico to communicate live with scientists on shore. Since the ECC went live two years ago, the Okeanos Explorer has shared high-definition video and audio of six expeditions. Telepresence, using real-time broadband satellite communications, allows scientists, students and Stennis visitors who are on shore to participate in the ship's exploration expedition.
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The Mississippi Digital Earth Model
The Mississippi Digital Earth Model (MDEM) is composed of seven framework layers as defined by the Federal Geographic Data Community's National Spatial Data Infrastructure. Data for the MDEM is acquired and managed through joint operations between the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality and the Mississippi Department of Information Technology Services.
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Toward an Understanding of Gulf Coast Resident Preferences on Risk and Restoration
The results of this work will provide useful insights into whether seemingly anomalous coastal risk taking behavior can be explained by more robust behavioral models. Policy makers and scientists concerned with coastal management will obtain clarification of whether coastal resident behavior is driven by a lack of information, misguided perceptions, or simply personal preferences. Additionally, this work will allow for identification of perceived benefits from restoration and how individuals prioritize them. Finally, it may allow for identification of incentives that can be used to induce socially-optimal behavior.
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UAV Research with NOAA
GRI scientists are using UAVs to assess the speed and rate of how rivers flow and rise and where the water goes, especially in flood type conditions. Partnering with NOAA, both are helping the U.S. to become a “Weather Ready Nation.” This effort can help prevent the loss of life and property before, during and after natural disasters, such as flooding, created by tropical storms and hurricanes. They are conducting research and gaining invaluable environmental and situational data along the lower Pearl River watershed, south of Bogalusa, Louisiana, all the way down to what is called the tidal plain.
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Unmanned Aerial Systems
GRI scientists are researching the effective use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and unmanned surface vehicles (USV's) commonly referred to as drones, in how they can be used safely to assess crops, evaluate woodlands, conduct wildlife surveys, gauge river flow and monitor the Gulf of Mexico environmental health and watershed, as well as helping NOAA increase the accuracy of severe weather forecasts. These unmanned aerial and surface/water systems use remote sensing, global positioning--and geographic information systems to collect and analyze sites specific data that farmers, foresters, wildlife rangers, oceanographers and marine scientists can use to create and apply effective prescriptions for every inch of an agricultural field, ocean, river, forest and wildlife management areas.

Visualization Techniques for Improving Understanding of Severe Storms
This project advances the visual analysis tools to increase a modeler or analyst's ability to understand hurricane structure, intensity and dynamics. The project focuses on developing new 2D and 3D visualization tools which produce visualization products that can be made publicly available, easily interpreted and can be viewed on personal computers or used in television coverage. The goal is to create a hurricane visualization system that accepts both simulated and measured data as input and put all the data into a single geographic context.
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Weather Research and Forecasting Modeling System
This research includes assimilation of NEXRAD radial winds in a regional mesoscale model and the use of Lagrangian models to estimate the transport and dispersion of gasses/particles over the Southeastern United States. It is our plan to provide daily plume (smoke) forecast information, as well as atmospheric wind and other conditions over the Gulf coast. Therefore, the information can be used to assess how the smoke due to burning oil over the Gulf of Mexico propagates in time.
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WISDOM - Weather In-Situ Deployment Optimization Method
GRI scientists and students are participating in WISDOM, the Weather In-Situ Deployment Optimization Method research program that seeks to improve hurricane forecasting time by three to seven days before a storm's landfall by providing wind and atmospheric data in areas of the Atlantic basin that are poorly observed. The WISDOM program launches small super-pressure balloons with payloads that include GPS and satellite radio communications capabilities.
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