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Maps and Spatial Data

Maps and spatial data are at the foundation for much of the work the Office of Response and Restoration (OR&R) undertakes, from scientific support for oil and chemical spills to damage assessment and restoration to dealing with marine debris.

What are spatial data? Spatial data describe the location and shapes of environmental features as well as events occurring in the environment, such as an oil spill into an estuary. Analyzing this information is crucial in responding to, assessing, and restoring damage to marine and coastal environments.

In a spill response, mapping sensitive shorelines and forecasting the path that pollutants will travel in water are examples of spatial data. Assessing important spatial information and designing successful restoration projects rely upon interpreting and mapping geographic information, including the location, duration, and impacts from oil spills, other hazardous materials, or debris released into the environment.

In addition to using spatial data and tools developed by partners, OR&R develops its own applications and products to support scientific decision-making to protect and restore coastal and marine resources.

ERMA® is an online mapping tool that integrates both static and real-time data, such as Environmental Sensitivity Index (ESI) maps, ship locations, weather, and ocean currents, in a centralized, easy-to-use format for environmental responders and decision makers.

ERMA enables a user to quickly and securely upload, manipulate, export, and display spatial data in a Geographic Information System (GIS) map.

Developed by NOAA and the University of New Hampshire with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Coast Guard, and U.S. Department of Interior, ERMA provides environmental resource managers with the data necessary to make informed decisions for environmental response.

Learn how to reference ERMA in a bibliography.

ESI maps provide a concise summary of coastal resources that are at risk if an oil spill occurs nearby.

Visit our interactive map to learn about OR&R's hazardous material spill response, restoration, and marine debris activities.

To address marine debris impacts on the Gulf Coast, Congress tasked NOAA in July 2006 to survey and map nearshore waters impacted by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita to facilitate debris removal.

Query Manager is a database standard and query tool that can be used to access analytical chemistry for sediment, tissue, water and oil, in addition to sediment and water toxicity data.

Try these in-depth exercises to help you become more familiar with Environmental Sensitivity Index (ESI) maps and data.

This mapping program, with an easy-to-use GIS interface, works seamlessly with several other emergency response programs in the CAMEO software suite.