NOAA launches new online mapping tool for Great Lakes region

September 9, 2013

Scientists take samples that can inform cleanup and restoration actions for the Kalamazoo River in Michigan.

Scientists take samples that can inform cleanup and restoration actions for the Kalamazoo River in Michigan.

High resolution (Credit: NOAA)

NOAA’s Office of Response and Restoration has launched a new online mapping tool for the Great Lakes that will give decision makers, resource managers, and environmental responders better information as they clean up hazardous materials and restore the coastal and estuarine environments.

The new Great Lakes Environmental Response Management Application (ERMA®) tool features the most comprehensive collection of environmental contaminant data in the region, as well as information on natural resources, habitats, weather, water levels, and currents.

Great Lakes ERMA adds to ERMA coverage in other regions around the nation, and focuses on coastal areas in the Great Lakes Basin from Minnesota to New York and from Ontario to Quebec in Canada. It integrates both static and real-time data from NOAA and other partners into a centralized, easy-to-use format.

By combining environmental contaminant data from NOAA’s Great Lakes Query Manager database with ecological, recreational, cultural, and commercial information, resource managers can compare environmental conditions over time and between locations.

Great Lakes Areas of Concern and NOAA Query Manager sediment sampling stations (orange points) shown in Great Lakes ERMA.

Great Lakes Areas of Concern and NOAA Query Manager sediment sampling stations (orange points) shown in Great Lakes ERMA.

High resolution (Credit: NOAA)

ERMA helps to illustrate progress in cleaning up contaminated sediment and restoring the health of the Great Lakes, both across the basin and in Areas of Concern -- areas identified by the U.S. and Canada as polluted and in need of cleanup and restoration.

As part of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, NOAA developed Great Lakes ERMA,  in collaboration with EPA, U.S. Coast Guard, and University of New Hampshire.

In addition to addressing environmental cleanup and restoration under the initiative, Great Lakes ERMA also improves planning, communication, and coordination for emergency responses to pollution incidents, such as oil and chemical spills. It integrates information from a variety of sources into a common picture, which can provide the response team with a quick visualization of the situation.

NOAA continues to work with federal, state, regional and non-governmental partners in the Great Lakes to incorporate additional, regionally relevant data and information into Great Lakes ERMA, including restoration projects and alternatives, potential climate change impacts, spill response plans, and environmental modeling and forecasts.

NOAA’s mission is to understand and predict changes in the Earth's environment, from the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun, and to conserve and manage our coastal and marine resources. Join us on FacebookTwitter, Instagram and our other social media channels.