NOAA announced said that the Port of
Mobile, Ala. has become the 14th location in the United States to install the Physical Oceanographic Real-Time System. PORTS, developed
and operated by NOAA, provides accurate real-time oceanographic and meteorological data to mariners
that can reduce the risk of vessel groundings and increase the amount of cargo moved through the port. The system will become operational on Dec. 3.
Administered by the NOAA Center for
Operational Oceanographic Products and Services, PORTS measures, integrates, and disseminates observations of water levels, currents, salinity, wind, and bridge clearance. Knowledge of
environmental conditions significantly reduce the risk of vessel groundings and increase the amount of cargo moved through a waterway by enabling mariners to safely utilize every inch of
dredged channel depth. Port of Mobile PORTS data are updated every six minutes and thoroughly quality controlled to ensure accuracy.
While designed to be of service to the
marine transportation community, the data are freely accessible on the Internet at http://www.tidesandcurrents.noaa.gov/ports. NOAA PORTS information users include port authorities, vessel pilots, shipping companies, U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Navy, recreational boaters, fishermen
, coastal managers,
environmental organizations and academia.
The Mobile system brings to 14 the
number of PORTS in operation around the nation. Studies have shown more than a 50 percent decrease in vessel groundings following the installation of PORTS in other areas. Estimates of economic benefits directly attributed to
PORTS range from $7m per year for Tampa
Bay to $16m per year for Houston-Galveston. The Port of Mobile is the 11th largest in the United States, handling 24 million tons of cargo in 2006, accounting for $89.5m in revenue.