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National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) was officially established under the U.S. Department of Commerce in 1970. It arose from the same reorganization plan that formed the Environmental Protection Agency. During this time, a new approach to environmental regulation was beginning in which separate agencies were being consolidated in recognition of the interrelations existing in the environment .

NOAA is charged with the mission of collecting scientific information, predicting changes in the environment, and protecting life and property. In the years since its formation, NOAA's efforts have provided a better understanding of the behavior of natural systems, and how to effectively manage resources to allow for economic development while protecting environmental quality.

Major Divisions

NOAA gathers information and conducts research primarily through its five major organizational units. Together, these organizational units work to achieve the agency's goal of ensuring effective management and stewardship of natural resources. NOAA collects much of the data on water in the oceans and atmosphere. These data are used by an array of decisionmakers, scientists, special interest groups, and the general public, ranging from applications as diverse as ocean-related policy-making, to investigations of climate change, to the planning of daily personal activities.

National Weather Service.

Perhaps the most well-known organization within NOAA is the National Weather Service (NWS). The NWS collects weather data and provides forecasts and warnings to protect the nation's residents and to provide communities with the information needed to plan and prepare for weather events. Commercial weather organizations also use information provided by the NWS to provide the public with weather forecasts.

National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service.

The National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service (NESDIS) operates the nation's environmental satellites, providing valuable information about weather and climate used by the NWS for short-term forecasting and long-term monitoring and prediction of climate variation. The organization also maintains large databases for meteorology , oceanography, geophysics, and solar-terrestrial sciences used by scientists working to better understand Earth systems.

National Ocean Service.

The National Ocean Service (NOS) provides information to coastal communities and those navigating ocean waters to allow for the safe use of ocean resources while also preserving and protecting those resources for future use. The NOS also administers the National Marine Sanctuary Program, which, like the U.S. Department of Interior's National Parks Program, protects areas identified for their biodiversity , ecological integrity, and cultural legacy. The sanctuary program was created in 1972 by the Marine Protection, Research, and Sanctuaries Act.

National Marine Fisheries Service.

NOAA Fisheries, or the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), studies and manages marine fisheries, conserves fishery habitats , and enforces federal statutes, such as the Endangered Species Act, the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1994, and the Magnuson-Stevens Act of 1996. This organization's research and management efforts support the exploitation of living marine resources while working to achieve sustainability of resource use.

Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research.

The Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research (OAR) is NOAA's primary research arm. OAR maintains several research laboratories, including oceangoing vessels and undersea research centers. It also works with academic institutions, providing research grants to generate new knowledge about the oceans.

NOAA's plan for the future includes the strong promotion of sustainable development. As a bureau of the U.S. Department of Commerce, NOAA collects information and conducts research to allow for economic growth and the wise use of natural resources while maintaining the quality of the environment.

see also Climate and the Ocean; El NiÑo and La NiÑa; Endangered Species Act; Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S.; Fisheries, Marine: Management and Policy; Geospatial Technologies; National Park Service; Weather and the Ocean.

Vincent G. McGowan

Bibliography

U.S. Department of Commerce. NOAA Strategic Plan: A Vision for 2005Executive Summary. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Commerce, 1998.

Internet Resources

National Marine Sanctuaries. <http://www.sanctuaries.nos.noaa.gov>.

NOAA History. U.S. Department of Commerce. <http://www.publicaffairs.noaa.gov/grounders/noaahistory.html>.

NOAA Home Page. U.S. Department of Commerce. <http://www.noaa.gov>.

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NOAA (National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration)

NOAA (National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration)

The National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) monitors environmental, climatic, and weather conditions in the United States and around the world. The administration manages an extensive network of satellites, sensory aircraft, and specialized monitoring equipment to provide information on meteorological events and their impact. The mission of NOAA is to protect persons, property, national security, and United States economic interests. NOAA also works with foreign meteorological services, international search and rescue units, and independent research scientists.

The administration has several operating divisions responsible for various agency responsibilities and research programs. The National Weather Service (NWS) is perhaps the most well known NOAA operational division. The NWS maintains the most extensive satellite network and meteorological research equipment, providing national, regional, and local weather through a variety of media. NOAA Weather Radio, the voice of the National Weather Service, broadcasts constant weather updates and is linked to the Federal Emergency Management Agency's Emergency Broadcast System. Though developed for government use, the radio broadcasts are available to private citizens.

In conjunction with the Department of Defense, NOAA also oversees the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP). A key component of aerospace development, the space program, and weapons development, the DMSP organizes the construction, launch, and maintenance of satellites that monitor atmospheric, oceanographic, and solar-terrestrial environments. The DMSP maintains a large network of satellites 1330 miles (about 850 km) above the earth's surface. Data from the satellites is sent to the Air Force Weather Agency, the National Geophysical Data Center, and the National Center for Atmospheric Research.

Another NOAA division, the National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service (NEDIS) provides information on significant environmental events recovered from satellite imagery and other means of remote sensing. The NEDIS also licenses commercial remote sensing satellites, including global positioning systems (GPS). In conjunction with Russia's Cospas satellite system, the NOAA Cospas-Sarsat system can locate lost or endangered individuals through emergency transmissions. NOAA Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellites (GOES) detect signals from Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacons on boats, airplanes, and other individual vessels, and send information to search and rescue teams. In 2002, nearly 1,500 people were rescued worldwide, most of them at sea.

NOAA's charting and marine safety programs provide information, products, and services that aid marine traffic, commerce, and private use of domestic and international waterways. NOAA creates and distributes tidal and current tables, conducts hydrographic surveys, works closely with several other government agencies to constantly update marine and terrestrial charts and maps. Recently, NOAA began testing International Electronic Navigational Charts, or "smart charts" for private civilian use. Smart Charts work in conjunction with global positioning systems and weather satellites to aid safe navigation. NOAA also develops aeronautical charts used by government and commercial airplanes.

Aside from its role in security, NOAA also funds and conducts research on the global environment and ocean systems. Via satellite and other sensor mechanisms, the administration monitors conditions such as widespread deforestation, ozone depletion, volcanoes, fires, and water pollution. Special attention is paid to the long-term effects of these processes on atmospheric and marine systems and their potential impact on global environments, flora and fauna, climate, and economic systems.

FURTHER READING:

ELECTRONIC:

United States National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration. <http://www.noaa.gov.> (15 January 2003).

SEE ALSO

Coast Guard (USCG), United States
FEMA (United States Federal Emergency Management Agency)
Remote Sensing

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National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)


Established in 1970 under the Department of Commerce, the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) guides the United States' use and protection of its air and water resources. With respect to air resources, the agency conducts research and gathers data about the earth's air, and engages in subsequent technical analyses. Specific agency concerns are air pollution, acid rain, and global warming, all greatly influenced by human activity. With respect to water resources, the agency conducts research and gathers data about marine environments, and provides technical analyses of the human activities affecting such environments. Specific agency concerns are ocean dredging and dumping, which can have an adverse effect on marine environments.

For both air and water issues, the agency has adopted policies to address the adverse effects of human activities and provide recommendations to limit or eliminate them. For example, the agency's policy of requiring trawl fishermen to use turtle excluder devices has served to protect sea turtles. Aside from its policy initiatives, the agency enforces a number of laws and treaties (e.g., Coastal Zone Management Act, Endangered Species Act, Magnuson Fishery Conservation and Management Act, Marine Mammal Protection Act, and Ocean Dumping Act), all of which promote the environmental protection of both the atmosphere and the earth's marine environments.

see also Acid Rain; Air Pollution; Global Warming; Ocean Dumping; Water Pollution.

Bibliography

Natural Research Council, Committee on Global Change Research. (1999). Global Environmental Change: Research Pathways for the Next Decade. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press.


internet resource

National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration Website. Available from http: www.noaa.gov/fisheries.html.

Robert F. Gruenig

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NOAA

NOAA (USA) National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

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