National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

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The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is an agency of the United States Department of Commerce. NOAA operates a network of weather satellites, the National Weather Service, the National Hurricane Center, and cooperates with the National Ice Center.



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National Weather Service meteorologists preparing a forecast, early 20th century

The NOAA has a two-fold mission:

  1. Environmental assessment and prediction—to observe and assess the state of the environment, while protecting public safety and the United States' economic and environmental security through accurate forecasting.
  2. Environmental stewardship—protect ocean, coastal and living marine resources while assisting their economic development.

History and organisational structure

NOAA formed in 1970 after Richard Nixon proposed creating a new department to serve a national need "...for better protection of life and property from natural hazards...for a better understanding of the total environment...[and] for exploration and development leading to the intelligent use of our marine resources..." On October 3, NOAA was established under the Department of Commerce and incorporated all the preceding departments, as well as Environmental Data Service, National Satellite Center, Research Libraries and other governmental departments under one banner.

National Ocean Service (NOS) and National Geodetic Survey (NGS)

National Ocean Service (NOS) was formed from the old Coast and Geodetic Survey, and in turn created a new division called the National Geodetic Survey (NGS). The NOS protects 12 National Marine Sanctuaries and is an advocate for coastal and ocean stewardship. It also introduced electronic nautical charts which they combine with GPS to enhance the safety and efficiency of navigation of U.S. waterways. The NGS specifies latitude, longitude, height, scale, gravity, and orientation throughout the United States. Aviation safety, in particular the orientation of runways, depends on this system. An example of the work the NGS does is the work they did taking measurements of the Washington Monument. When it was covered in scaffolding for renovations in 1999, NGS surveyors confirmed the height and stability of the structure.

External NOS and NGS links

National Weather Service (NWS)

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The National Weather Service (NWS) keeps track of climatological data and coordinates cooperative weather observers, comprising a network of more than 10,000 National Weather Service volunteers across the U.S. who record daily weather measurements that become part of U.S. climate records. Trained volunteers called Skywarn spotters relay severe weather to their local weather service office. The NWS is charged with issuing weather forecasts, advisories, watches, and warnings on a daily basis. They issue more than 734,000 weather and 850,000 river and flood forecasts, and between 45,000 and 50,000 severe weather warnings annually. NOAA data is also relevant to the issues of global warming and ozone depletion.

The NWS took over the Department of Agriculture's Weather Bureau, which had previously been the U.S. Army's weather service and had been transferred to the Department of Agriculture in 1890. The Weather Bureau made its first official meteorological forecast in 1870 on November 1: "High winds at Chicago and Milwaukee... and along the Lakes".


The NWS operates NEXRAD, a nationwide network of doppler radars which can detect precipitation and atmospheric movement.

NOAA Weatheradio

The National Weather Service also operates NOAA Weatheradio, a network of radio transmitters that broadcasts weather forecasts, severe weather statements, watches and warnings 24 hours a day See also:

Advanced Weather Interactive Processing System

The NWS deployed the Advanced Weather Interactive Processing System in 2001, which was the final piece of technology in a $4.5 billion government modernization program to improve climate, water, and weather products and services.

External NWS links

National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service (NESDIS)

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NOAA engineer at work

The National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service (NESDIS) was created by the NOAA to manage the data gathered by the NWS and other government agencies and departments. Data collected by the NWS, U.S. Navy, U.S. Air Force, the Federal Aviation Administration, and meteorological services around the world, are housed at the National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, North Carolina. NESDIS also operates the National Geophysical Data Center (NGDC) in Boulder, Colorado, the National Oceanographic Data Center (NODC) in Silver Spring, Maryland, the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) and the National Coastal Data Development Center (NCDDC) which are used internationally by environmental scientists.

The NEDIS also runs the:

  1. Office of Systems Development
  2. Office of Satellite Operations
  3. Office of Satellite Data Processing & Distribution
  4. Office of Research & Applications
  5. NPOESS Integrated Program Office
  6. International & Interagency Affairs Office

The service operates and manages many geosynchronous satellites. In 1975 Tiros-1 (also known as GEOS-1), NOAA's first owned and operated geostationary satellite was launched. In 1983 NOAA assumed operational responsibility for LANDSAT satellite system. In 1984 the Tropical Ocean-Global Atmosphere program (TOGA) program began.

In 1977 the Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory (PMEL) deployed the first successful moored equatorial current meter - the beginning of the Tropical Atmosphere/Ocean (TAO) array. In 1979 NOAA's first polar-orbiting environmental satellite was launched.

External NESDIS links

  • NESDIS (
  • About NESDIS (
  • Schedules
  • Status

National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS)

The National Marine Fisheries Service, also known as NOAA Fisheries, is the direct descendant of the U.S. Commission of Fish and Fisheries, which was initiated in 1871 to protect, study, manage and restore fish. The NMFS has a marine fisheries research lab in Woods Hole, Massachusetts and is home to one of NOAA's five fisheries science centers.

Other divisions of NOAA

Continuing on the tradition of the USS Albatross, the first government research vessel built exclusively for fisheries and oceanographic research, NOAA Research also has a fleet of research vessels. Officers of the NOAA Corps, the smallest of the seven uniformed services of the United States, operate NOAA's fleet of research vessels and aircraft.

External links

nl:National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration


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