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National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is a U.S. government agency that was formed in 1970 as a combination of several different organizations. The purpose of NOAA is to study and report on the ocean, atmosphere, and coastal regions of Earth.


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Earth Science, Meteorology


Reuben Lasker

The Reuben Lasker one of the fishery survey vessels in NOAA's fleet. Hosted in San Diego, California, the ship's primary objective is to support fish, marine mammal, seabird and turtle surveys off the U.S. West Coast.

NOAA/OMAO photograph by Lt. Cmdr. Christopher Skapin, NOAA Corps

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is an agency of the United States government that was formed in 1970 within the Department of Commerce. NOAA was the result of a merger of three governmental organizations that were formed in the 19th century. These three organizations included the United States Coast and Geodetic Survey (now known as the National Geodetic Survey), the United States Commission of Fish and Fisheries (today succeeded by the NOAA Marine Fisheries Service), and the United States Weather Bureau (now known as the National Weather Service). The work and legacy of these historic organizations continues today under their more recently created parent organization.

NOAA is comprised of six distinct divisions known as “line offices.” These are the National Weather Service, National Ocean Service, NOAA Marine Fisheries Service, NOAA Marine and Aviation Operations, Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research, and National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service. These offices allow NOAA to study and report on the ocean, atmosphere, and coastal regions of the world.

With its headquarters in the Washington, D.C. region, it has offices, facilities and laboratories throughout the United States and its territories. NOAA serves a variety of purposes focused on the study and services related to climate, weather, coasts, and ecosystems. The research laboratories of the agency help scientists understand Earth’s ocean, inland bodies of water, and atmosphere. Through the National Weather Service, NOAA tracks and records climate and weather data and provides weather models and forecasts for meteorologists. NOAA also controls satellites that help track weather systems throughout the world. In addition to satellites, NOAA operates a fleet of aircraft called hurricane hunters that fly into hurricanes to gather data on the storms. This helps meteorologists better understand the dynamics of these powerful storms and analyze their movements. NOAA also operates a fleet of hydrographic survey, oceanographic research, and fisheries survey vessels.

Media Credits

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Tyson Brown, National Geographic Society
National Geographic Society
Production Managers
Gina Borgia, National Geographic Society
Jeanna Sullivan, National Geographic Society
Program Specialists
Sarah Appleton, National Geographic Society, National Geographic Society
Margot Willis, National Geographic Society
Clint Parks
Last Updated

May 20, 2022

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