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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.

The Environmental Response Management Application (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 natural resource decision makers.