PORTS® Expansion in the Gulf of Mexico

Gulfport PORTS.

The Gulfport PORTS' environmental sensors gather real-time data from four current profilers and two meteorological measurement systems.

High resolution (Credit: NOAA)

To keep ship traffic flowing smoothly, NOAA developed the Physical Oceanographic Real-Time System (PORTS®) — near-shore ocean observing systems that provide accurate water and air data to mariners to reduce the chance of a groundings and increase the amount of cargo moving safely through port. Currently, there are 16 complete PORTS® located nationwide with the two most recent installed in Mississippi.

PORTS® measures and provides real-time observations of water levels, currents, salinity, wind, atmospheric pressure, air and water temperatures, and most recently an air gap, or bridge clearance. PORTS® information is collected from each sensor at six-minute intervals delivering updated information to help mariners guide ships into and out of the nation's busiest ports. PORTS® data are available online.

Pascagoula PORTS.

The Pascagoula PORTS includes two water-level stations, three current profilers, and three meteorological stations.

High resolution (Credit: NOAA)

PORTS® Expansion in Mississippi

Recently, NOAA’s PORTS® program expanded to two new locations at Pascagoula, Miss., and Gulfport, Miss. The Port of Pascagoula is Mississippi’s largest seaport and the Port of Gulfport is the third busiest container port in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico. Both observation systems will help the state move commodities safely and efficiently through its waterways — contributing $1.4 billion to the state economy, including some 34,000 direct and indirect jobs paying $765 million in wages and salaries.

With PORTS® data, both the Port of Gulfport and the Port of Pascagoula are better equipped to facilitate Mississippi’s economic growth through international trade and increased employment.

Mariners and forecaster also will benefit from these data. “The real-time oceanographic and meteorological information provided by PORTS® will not only provide commercial and recreational mariners with reliable navigational information for safe and efficient travel, but will also enhance local weather and coastal marine forecasting,” said U.S. Senator Thad Cochran of Mississippi. “I am proud to have this important technology located in the Port of Gulfport.”

The Importance of PORTS®

NOAA staff present the PORTS Key for the Port of Gulfport. Pictured (from left): Donald R. Allee, Senator Thad Cochran, Michael Szabados, William Corso, and Mary Glackin.

High resolution (Credit: NOAA)

The information made available by PORTS® is essential for moving goods, services, and people throughout the 25,000 miles of waterways, ports, and other navigable waters, as well as the more than 3,700 marine terminals that make up the U.S. marine transportation system. A 2005 Tampa Bay economic study showed a $7 million economic benefit from PORTS® for avoided accidents and damage to the environment. Similarly, a 2007 study of the Houston/ Galveston PORTS® identified $18 million in benefits to the Gulf Region. The cost to operate this system is only a fraction of this benefit. NOAA logo.