The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), is an agency under the authority under the U.S. Department of Commerce. Like the name implies it regulates, monitors and studies the oceans and the atmosphere. NOAA issues weather warnings, studies weather, regulates fisheries and conducts research. The department is run by Chief Administrator Dr. Jane Lubchenco.
According to their mission statement, NOAA’s goal is to “understand and predict changes in the Earth's environment and conserve and manage coastal and marine resources to meet our nation's economic, social, and environmental needs.
According to their website, NOAA's roots date back to 1807 with the United States Coast and Geodetic Survey. It was officially formed in 1970.
With such a widespread mission, it is difficult to characterize NOAA in brief. However, the agency believes it has several specific roles goals:
A Supplier of Environmental Information Products. NOAA supplies information on the state of the oceans and the atmosphere. This is evident in its production of weather warnings and forecasts through the National Weather Service, but NOAA's information products extend to climate, ecosystems, and commerce. Remember, it’s part of the Department of Commerce.
A Provider of Environmental Stewardship Services. NOAA is a steward of coastal and marine environments. In coordination with federal, state, local, tribal, and international authorities, NOAA manages the use of these environments, regulating fisheries and marine sanctuaries It also protects threatened and endangered marine species.
A Leader in Applied Scientific Research. NOAA is a source for information regarding ecosystems, climate, weather and water, as well as commerce and transportation.
To accomplish its goals, NOAA has classified its services into five fundamental activities:
1. Monitoring and observing Earth systems with instruments and data collection networks.
2. Understanding and describing Earth systems through research and analysis.
3. Assessing and predicting the changes of these systems over time.
4. Engaging, advising, and informing the public and partner organizations with important information.
5. Managing resources for the betterment of the environment and the economy.
NOAA works toward its mission through six major offices:
The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS)
The National Environmental Satellite, Data and Information Service (NESDIS)
The National Ocean Service (NOS)
The National Weather Service (NWS)
Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research (OAR)
Office of Program Planning and Integration (PPI)
The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) was created 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. Its law enforcement agency is the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries Office for Law Enforcement in Silver Spring, Maryland.
The National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service (NESDIS) was created to manage environmental satellite programs and data collected by other government agencies. 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).
The National Ocean Service (NOS) insures that ocean and coastal areas are safe, healthy, and productive. NOS scientists, natural resource managers, and specialists serve America by ensuring safe and efficient marine transportation, promoting innovative solutions to protect coastal communities, and conserving marine and coastal places.
The National Weather Service (NWS) provides weather, hydrologic, and climate forecast information. This is done through a collection of national and regional centers. They issue weather forecasts, advisories, watches, and warnings on a daily basis.
The Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research (OAR), is the scientific research branch of NOAA. Research, conducted by OAR helps to better understand tornadoes, hurricanes, climate variability, solar flares, changes in the ozone, air pollution transport and dispersion, El Niño/La Niña events, fisheries productivity, ocean currents, deep sea thermal vents, and coastal ecosystem health.
The Office of Program Planning and Integration (PPI) was created to coordinate NOAA’s functions and improve relationship with the general public and scientific community.