Sanctuary Employee Lauded for Work on Climate Change

Nov. 30, 2009

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Karrie Carnes
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Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary resource manager Lauri MacLaughlin was part of a team awarded the Department of Commerce’s prestigious Silver Medal Honor Award in Washington, DC, November 19, 2009.

MacLaughlin and four fellow scientists from across the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) were recognized by Commerce Secretary Gary Locke for their roles in the development of tools and products to predict and monitor the effects of climate change, as well as their efforts to build capacity among international coral reef managers.

In 2008, MacLaughlin helped organize a four-day workshop “Responding to Climate Change” which brought together coral reef experts and marine park managers from the Caribbean, Central and South America, and Florida. The workshop held in the Florida Keys, and its corresponding trainings in Australia and American Samoa in 2007, was designed to aid managers in better preparing for and responding to impacts of climate change, including coral bleaching.

Lauri MacLaughlin  and team receives Department of Commerce Silver Medal

The workshops, which included field activities and interactive discussions, also facilitated the use of the publication “A Reef Managers Guide to Coral Bleaching.” Workshop participants acquired skills such as predicting where bleaching was likely to occur, how to measure reef resilience, and assessing socioeconomic impacts of coral bleaching.

The award-winning NOAA team also helped developed experimental and operational satellite and model-based products, including bleaching alerts for coral reef managers and stakeholders. Through advances in monitoring and prediction tools, NOAA enables reef managers to plan in advance and adapt accordingly.

Annually since 1949, the Department of Commerce has honored its best employees with Honor Awards in the form of Gold and Silver Medals. They are the most prestigious awards the Department gives its employees, which are granted by the Secretary for distinguished and exceptional performance.

Established in 1990, Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary protects 2,900 square nautical miles of important marine habitat, including maritime heritage resources, as well as coral reef, hard bottom, seagrass meadows, mangrove communities and sand flats. NOAA and the state of Florida manage the sanctuary.

NOAA understands and predicts changes in the Earth’s environment, from the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun, and conserves and manages our coastal and marine resources.