LSU to lead study of Gulf monitoring system

BATON ROUGE (AP) — A team of researchers from the Center for Natural Resource Economics and Policy at the LSU AgCenter has received a three-year award of more than $750,000 to study the effectiveness of the environmental monitoring system in the Gulf of Mexico.
The award was made through the LSU Coastal Marine Institute, a partnership of LSU and the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management.
An array of buoys and other sensors scattered throughout the Gulf provides data to weather forecasters and others with interest in the Gulf’s ecosystem.
The system provides biological, chemical and physical data for managing marine industrial operations, coastal hazards, public safety and health, ecosystems and water quality, said Rich Kazmierczak, an AgCenter economist and leader of the research team.
Experts estimate the overall funding for operating the system will exceed $54 billion over the next 15 years.
“Remote sensing is expensive,” Kazmierczak said. “We’re interested in finding out how valuable the data are in terms of dollars and cents.”
The cooperative agreement with the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management focuses on the Gulf of Mexico Coastal Ocean Observing System.
The availability of information for a variety of management and public policy decisions can be valuable in planning for and responding to events such as hurricanes and oil spills, Kazmierczak said. “We want to determine the cost-benefit of continuing and expanding the system.”
Initially, researchers will survey the system’s government, industry and individual users to find out how they use the data. The team will use this information to place monetary values on the monitoring system.
In some cases, data-gathering companies accumulate the information and then provide it to commercial companies that would rather outsource the work, Kazmierczak said.
“We want to learn about the users and how they use the data for planning and decision-making,” he said.
“That helps put a value on the information being collected — what it’s worth.”
In addition to Kazmierczak, researchers participating in the study include Matt Fannin, associate professor of regional economics and community development; Rex Caffey, professor of natural resource economics; and graduate student Michelle Savolainen.

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