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Partner Highlight: Gulf of Mexico Coastal Ocean Observing System (GCOOS)

About: The Gulf of Mexico Coastal Ocean Observing System Regional Association (GCOOS) is a 501(c)(3) organization engaged in developing a network of business leaders, marine scientists, resource managers, governmental and non-governmental organizations and other stakeholder groups that combine their data to provide timely information about the Gulf of Mexico.

With members from Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida, GCOOS has established a sustained observing system for the Gulf of Mexico to provide observations and products needed by users in this region for:

  • Protecting public health and safety;
  • Supporting healthy ecosystems and water quality;
  • Mitigating the effects of storms and man-made disasters;
  • Ensuring safe and efficient marine operations;
  • Monitoring the Gulf for long-term changes and environmental trends.

GCOOS is one of 11 regional associations that partner with the U.S. Integrated Ocean Observing System, U.S. IOOS®, a federal, regional, private sector partnership committed to tracking, predicting, managing and adapting to changes in our ocean, coastal, and Great Lakes environments. GCOOS is led by a Board of Directors and supported by grants from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and other agencies and foundations, as well as donations. Members of the GCOOS-RA are institutions or individuals that are actively engaged in conducting observations of the Gulf of Mexico coastal environment, or who are end users of data, products or services resulting from these observing programs. Non-U.S. entities can become non-voting Associates.

Projects of interest: The GCOOS Data Portal ( is designed to aggregate and disseminate the region’s near real-time oceanographic data to provide timely information about the environment of the United States portion of the Gulf of Mexico and its estuaries to assist decision-makers, including researchers, government managers, industry, military, educators, emergency responders, and the general public. The data currently are from voluntary local (regional) data providers and federal observing facilities in the Gulf of Mexico. To date, GCOOS Data Portal monitors around 1,324 sensors from 399 platforms, of which 242 platforms are from non-federal organizations and private sectors.

Curating regional data is just one of many outputs of GCOOS. GCOOS also develops products ( in close collaboration with the region’s stakeholders and GCOOS members. 

Recent Developments: In March 2018, GCOOS Executive Director Dr. Barbara Kirkpatrick and U.S. IOOS Director Carl Gouldman signed a memorandum of understanding for the GCOOS certification. The GCOOS certification issued by NOAA’s Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS) becoming the Gulf of Mexico’s Regional Information Coordination Entity (RICE), is a stamp of approval that GCOOS is meeting federal standards for data gathering and management and operates inclusively, transparently and engages its stakeholders to determine system priorities.

GCOOS is also actively engaged in projects with private sector involvement. Most recently (January 2019), National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine (NAS) funded an effort to develop an information system to digitally compile, update, analyze, and make publicly accessible physical oceanographic and hydrographic data from Gulf of Mexico Loop Current field studies. The collection will include decades of privately held data from the oil and gas industries that were never published and will be made available for free to the public through this project.

Why GCOOS Participates in ESIP: GCOOS participates in ESIP primarily to learn about new and developing technologies related to data science and management. Secondarily and of equal importance, ESIP provides the avenue to network with individuals of common interest and potential data providers and share ideas.

Quick Facts:
ESIP Member Type: I
Joined ESIP: 2017
ESIP Voting Rep: Felimon Gayanilo