Ted Kaufman - United States Senator for Delaware

Kaufman Recognizes Great Federal Employee, Dr. Eddie Bernard

July 13, 2010

I rise once again to recognize one of our Nation's great Federal employees. Here are all the employees we have recognized to date.

Madam President, we in Washington are in the midst of a summer heat wave. I know it is the same for millions of Americans across the country. This comes on the heels of a harsh winter where the Capital City endured heavy snowfall that shut down businesses and even certain government offices. The powerful forces of nature continue to challenge us.

Many Americans only notice weather in its extremes. The hard-working men and women of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA, spend their careers making it easier for us to address nature's challenges. This year is NOAA's 40th anniversary. It was created in 1970 from three former agencies, and since that time NOAA employees have been at the forefront of weather prediction, oceanography, and fishery management.

Whenever anyone turns on the television and sees an alert from the National Weather Service, that is NOAA at work. If you go to the Pacific coast and enjoy the beaches, you can feel safe knowing that NOAA's tsunami warning system stands at the ready. NOAA personnel are also leading the way to ensure the long-term sustainability of our coastal fisheries so those who make their living from the sea can continue to do so for generations to come.

The great Federal employee I am recognizing today won the 2008 Service to America Medal for Homeland Security for his work at NOAA helping to detect and warn against destructive tsunamis. Dr. Eddie Bernard has served as Director of NOAA's Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory in Seattle, WA, since 1982. One of the leading experts on tsunamis, he has published over 80 scientific articles and edited books on the phenomenon.

For 3 years Eddie directed the National Tsunami Warning Center in Hawaii, and he was the founding chairman of the National Tsunami Hazard Mitigation Steering Committee, a joint Federal-State effort.

In addition to his work on tsunamis, as Director of the Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory Eddie oversees a number of important oceanographic research programs such as El Nino forecasts and studies of underwater volcanoes.

Eddie received his bachelor's degree in physics from Lamar University, and he holds master's and doctoral degrees in physical oceanography from Texas A&M.

In order to protect our coastlines against damage from Pacific tsunamis such as the one that devastated the coasts of South Asia in 2004, Eddie led the development of the innovative DART system. As a tsunami wave moves under the ocean, DART--which stands for deep ocean assessment of tsunamis--uses buoys to report data back to the Tsunami Warning Centers.

It took years to perfect, and Eddie and his team had hoped to get close to a 60-percent accuracy rate in predicting the scope and intensity of incoming tsunamis. As it turns out, they were able to achieve over 90 percent accuracy with DART. Their system became the basis for the Tsunami Warning and Education Act, which passed the Congress in 2006. Eddie was instrumental in helping to draft that legislation which strengthened tsunami detection, warning, and mitigation programs to ensure that we are prepared for even the worst-case scenarios.

The work of NOAA employees is often not glamorous, but it saves lives, protects property, and helps to prepare our coastal communities to meet the challenges of nature. My home State of Delaware is filled with coastal communities, and the work NOAA performs in a range of areas to help coastal States such as Delaware in so many ways.

I hope my colleagues will join me in thanking Dr. Eddie Bernard and all those at NOAA who continue to monitor the seas and skies on our behalf. They are all truly great Federal employees.

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