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Regional Study Completed in New York Characterizing the Seafloor for Proposed Offshore Wind Energy Project

Published on: 10/04/2019
Primary Contact(s): tim.battista@noaa.gov

Figure 1: Map of NYWEA and the NY Bight Regional Study Area (red dotted line)

NCCOS’s Biogeography Branch has completed a 3-year study for the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), to support a 816 megawatt offshore wind power project in the coastal waters of New York that will support a $3 billion project that is expected to build 60-80 wind turbines, create 800 local jobs, and power over 500,000 homes. The New York Wind Energy Area (NYWEA), located south of Long Island, was leased to Equinor Wind US LLC for development in December 2016.

NOAA has joined with BOEM to help build a secure and sustainable domestic energy supply in support of the Blue Economy, a concept which encourages better stewardship of our ocean resources. The U.S. is home to one of the largest and fastest growing wind markets in the world, investing in wind research and development projects, both on land and offshore, to advance technology innovations, create job opportunities and boost economic growth.

This assessment created baseline habitat and geologic information within NYWEA and the New York Bight region so that managers can better evaluate the potential impacts of offshore wind development and siting at this location, in addition to identifying potential, additional wind energy sites in the region. The NYWEA furthers New York State’s objective to provide 50% of its electricity from renewable energy by 2030, and to implement a comprehensive Offshore Wind Master Plan.

Extensive acoustic and sediment sampling, and ground validation studies were conducted by NCCOS within NYWEA. The regional study area encompasses 50,082 km2 of coastal and ocean waters off the coast of New York (Figure 1). Ship-based multibeam sonar, sediment grabs and fishery acoustics surveys were used to provide detailed information used to characterize seafloor composition and map the seafloor habitat, in addition to characterizing fish abundance and distribution in the area. 

Figure 3: Map of median sediment grain size in the NY Bight Regional Study Area.

Figure 2: Mean predicted likelihood of hard bottom occurrence in the NY Bight Regional Study Area.

The final report includes a complete analysis of hard bottom predictions, habitat, and sediment texture. Using spatial predictive modeling, maps were created that showed the likelihood of hard bottom occurrence (Figure 2), the distribution of surface sediments (Figure 3), and habitat predictions (Figure 4). These findings verified that the site is primarily sand sediment with little hard bottom occurrence, and there is limited presence of economically important fish or shellfish species. Very few biological or geological resources were found at the site that could be adversely impacted, permanently, making the site a conducive location for wind farm infrastructure siting.


Results from the data collected in NYWEA provide meaningful information on the geophysical characteristics which will be used in assessing the environmental suitability of additional sites. NCCOS also used the results of this data assessment to help ground-truth the regional predictive models. 

Special thanks to our partners: Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research (University of Colorado, Boulder), and student interns.

For more information contact Tim.Battista@noaa.gov or visit the project webpage.

Figure 4: Three co-occurring benthic habitats mapped throughout the NYWEA and the overall proportion of area occupied by each habitat class.

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