National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Essay

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As a service to all American citizens, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) plays an important role in daily life. The stated mission of NOAA reads: “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.”

In the early 19th century Thomas Jefferson set up the first science-based agency in the United States, called the Survey of the Coast. It was formed primarily to make sure that coastal areas were protected during times of hostility and war. The Survey of the Coast, the Weather Bureau, and the Bureau of Commercial Fisheries, along with other agencies, merged and evolved into NOAA over the course of almost two centuries. On October 3rd, 1970, then President Richard Nixon established NOAA under the Department of Commerce to help serve a national need for resource protection and weather knowledge for “better protection of life and property from natural hazards” and “for a better understanding of the total environment…[and] for exploration and development leading to the intelligent use of our marine resources.” In order to accomplish its main goals, NOAA operates through six major organizations: the National Weather Service; the National Ocean Service; the National Marine Fisheries Service; the National Environmental Satellite, Data and Information Service; NOAA Research; and Program Planning and Integration.

Some of the agency’s major functions are regulating the use of natural resources of marine and coastal ecosystems; understanding and interpreting weather and changes in climate so that other agencies can relay information and citizens can respond properly; providing the data necessary for weather forecasts and water cycle events like floods, storms, or droughts; and providing information about the weather to commercial and individual transportation agencies in order to keep transport systems running effectively. Through the National Weather Service, NOAA also acts as an impartial supplier of environmental information about the weather and the oceans.

NOAA information and recorded data is a valuable national resource. National Weather Service and NOAA environmental and weather satellites gather vital information beyond current temperatures and weather. Data is collected from many different domains, such as oceans, coastal areas, agricultural regions, and forest fire zones, which often leads to early, sometimes life-saving detection of forest fires and new volcanic ash. Also, NOAA serves as a provider of environmental stewardship services in the course of managing the environments of coastal and marine areas by regulating land use, supervising fisheries and marine facilities, and protecting endangered species.

Besides physically monitoring resources in coastal and marine areas, NOAA researches ecosystems, climates, weather types and systems, water and the water cycle, and transportation and commerce. Data collected by NOAA is used to study important phenomena such as hurricanes, solar flares on the sun, tornadoes, ocean tides and currents, and holes in the ozone layer. Through the recognition of the close link between the world’s oceans and its delicate atmosphere, NOAA has harbored the same philosophy of protection and conservation of natural resources since its creation in the early 1970s.

Bibliography:

  1. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, “NOAA History,” www.history.noaa.gov;
  2. Eileen Shea and U.S. Department of Commerce, “A History of NOAA,” www.lib.noaa.gov.

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