Sea Grant in the Lab: The Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory
By Robin Garcia, National Sea Grant Office
Sea Grant programs have extension agents throughout the coastal states, Great Lakes states, Puerto Rico, and Guam; broadening the reach of Sea Grant far beyond program home institutions. Yet, did you know that Sea Grant also has extension agents in NOAA Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research laboratories across the country? And did you know that one of those agents is in Florida?
The Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory (AOML), located in Miami, FL, is composed of three research areas focusing on hurricane research, ocean chemistry and ecosystems, and physical oceanography. AOML is part of a unique scientific community on Virginia Key, which includes the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, NOAA Fisheries’ Southeast Fisheries Science Center, the Miami Seaquarium, and the Maritime and Science and Technology Academy.
The book "Tropical Connections: South Florida's Marine Environment." Image: NOAA AOML.
Dr. Pamela Fletcher is Florida Sea Grant’s liaison to AOML. She has been in the position for ten years, and her overall focus is on improving the understanding of marine and coastal science, specifically AOML's science, for informed decision making by resource managers. She recently received an award from AOML for her outreach efforts to build awareness of marine resources.
When Fletcher first started working with Sea Grant, she was heavily involved with fostering a relationship between the University of Florida (UF), located in Gainesville, and AOML. Meeting with UF staff at campuses in Homestead and Fort Lauderdale, Fletcher supported the development of workshops, training, and networking opportunities for researchers working on Everglades restoration.
Fletcher recently served as the editor for the book Tropical Connections: South Florida’s Marine Environment. She was also a contributor, layout designer, and liaison with the many authors and photographers that contributed to the project. Fletcher then worked with students at RSMAS to develop lesson plans that accompany the book. Teachers are currently testing the lesson plans in the classroom.
Dr. Pamela Fletcher with AOML Director Dr. Robert Atlas and Deputy Director Dr. Molly Baringer after receiving an award for her 10 years of stewardship. Image: Edward Pritchard.
Currently, Fletcher is working on a project entitled Coastal Ecosystem Services in South Florida. It is a collaboration among AOML, the University of Central Florida, Harte Research Institute, and Florida Sea Grant and has three research areas: assessing risk and uncertainty in management decision-making, climate change scenario models, and ecosystem services and valuation. The project aims to produce strategies for managing natural resources in a changing climate by focusing on three areas in South Florida: the highly urbanized Biscayne Bay, the moderately urbanized Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve in Naples and Charlotte Harbor National Estuary Program in Charlotte and Lee counties, and the protected Everglades National Park. Fletcher focuses on project management, workshop facilitation, and expert opinion polling.
In the future, Fletcher will work with the Providing Real-Time Information for Marine Ecosystem Decision Support (PRIME-DS) project. She will serve as a liaison between AOML and managers at several Caribbean locations that will house NOAA research buoys.
View Pamela Fletcher’s Sea Grant profile.