New research center to be housed at Stennis Space Center

HANCOCK COUNTY — The National Oceans and Applications Research Center, or NOARC, will be located at Stennis Space Center in Hancock County.

Gov. Phil Bryant made the announcement today at the Infinity Science Center ribbon-cutting.

The center will combine the capabilities of NASA, NOAA and the U.S. Navy teams to analyze and understand the Gulf of Mexico watershed.

Stennis Space Center director Patrick Scheuermann said locating NOARC at Stennis “brings about an opportunity for increased collaboration and growth at this unique federal city for the benefit of the entire Gulf Coast region.”

Officials say the data gathered will be used to guide coastal restoration efforts, develop environmental management best practices and help identify optimal sites to build infrastructure. They say the private sector also will benefit from the work.

“The scientists who work at this center will focus on getting information into the hands of those who can use it to develop new tools and products, expand businesses and technology industries and improve lives.

“We could see apps that provide commercial and recreational fisherman with real-time wind, temperature and current maps. Or we could see the development of programs that alert oyster fishermen about adverse water conditions that are developing near their leases. We’ll be able to work more closely with first responders to provide state-of-the art storm surge and evacuation models. The possibilities are really endless,” Bryant said.

Officials expect to fund NOARC with remaining funds that BP granted to Mississippi during the response to the 2010 Deepwater Horizon explosion. The center will receive initial funding of $500,000 to provide for basic startup needs.

Bryant compared it to Woods Hole, a science center in Massachusetts, calling it the best until Mississippi’s center gets off the ground.

“It will be the Woods Hole of the South,” he said.

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