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Blog Category: National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration

Newest NOAA Geostationary Satellite Reaches Orbit

GOES emblem

Commerce’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and NASA officials announced a new Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES), launched tonight, successfully reached its initial orbit, joining four other GOES spacecraft that help NOAA forecasters track life-threatening weather and solar activity. “Our geostationary satellites are the nation’s weather sentinels in the sky,” said Jane Lubchenco, Ph.D., Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere and NOAA administrator. “With more than 35 million Americans living in hurricane prone areas and more than 1,000 tornadoes touching down in the U.S. annually, we need the reliable, accurate data that these satellites provide.” (More) (Launch image)

NOAA National Weather Service to Use New Hurricane Wind Scale

Satellite image of Hurricane Ike, 2008. Click for larger image.

NOAA’s National Weather Service will use a new hurricane scale this season called the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale. The scale keeps the same wind speed ranges as the original Saffir-Simpson Scale for each of the five hurricane categories, but no longer ties specific storm surge and flooding effects to each category. Changes were made to the Saffir-Simpson Scale because storm surge values and associated flooding are dependent on a combination of the storm’s intensity, size, motion and barometric pressure, as well as the depth of the near-shore waters and local topographical features. (More)

Commerce Department Proposes Establishment of NOAA Climate Service

Department of Commerce seal.

Individuals and decision-makers across widely diverse sectors—from agriculture energy to transportation—increasingly are asking Commerce’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) for information about climate change in order to make the best choices for their families, communities and businesses. To meet the rising tide of these requests, U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke today announced the intent to create a NOAA Climate Service line office dedicated to bringing together the agency’s strong climate science and service delivery capabilities. (More) (Announcement) (Climate Web site)

NOAA, Google Join Forces to Visualize Scientific Data

NOAA logo. Click to go to NOAA home page.

NOAA’s Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research and Google have signed a cooperative research and development agreement outlining how they will work together to create state-of-the-art visualizations of scientific data to illustrate how our planet works. Under the agreement, NOAA and Google plan to work together on research and development to join NOAA’s oceanographic, meteorological, biological, and climatological data with Google’s software capabilities. The wide availability of Google’s Internet tools has the potential to bring visualizations of NOAA data to new audiences around the world. (More)

NOAA: December Global Ocean Temperature Second-Warmest on Record

Image of the world's oceans.

The global ocean surface temperature was the second-warmest on record for December, according to scientists at NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C., and based on records going back to 1880. Scientists also reported the combined global land and ocean surface temperature was the eighth-warmest on record for December. For 2009, global temperatures tied with 2006 as the fifth-warmest on record. Also, the earth’s land surface for 2009 was seventh-warmest (tied with 2003) and the ocean surface was fourth-warmest (tied with 2002 and 2004.) (More)

NOAA Produces Images of Haiti for First Responders

Photo of plane. Click for larger image.

A specially-equipped NOAA jet conducted aerial surveys of earthquake-stricken Haiti on Jan. 17 and 18 as part of the agency’s effort to help responders assess damage and plan recovery efforts. The aircraft is equipped with high-resolution digital cameras and other sensors that collect data vital to disaster response, scientific research and environmental resource management efforts. “NOAA maintains some of the nation’s premier emergency response services,” said Jane Lubchenco, Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere and NOAA administrator. “We are proud to be of service in offering experts and expertise to help the people of Haiti during this heartbreaking time.” (More) (Haiti Earthquake Relief Web site)

Commerce Department Mobilizes to Assist Relief Efforts in Haiti

Help for Haiti icon. Click to go to Web site.

The U.S. Department of Commerce is mobilizing to assist in the earthquake relief efforts in Haiti. “In response to President Obama’s pledge of support, the Department of Commerce has mobilized resources to assist the Haitian people,” said Commerce Secretary Gary Locke. Commerce’s NOAA is sending a multi-tiered disaster response team to conduct emergency surveys and damage assessment of key Haitian ports. BIS is expediting the licensing process to speed up the export of humanitarian items. For more information on the effort and what you can do to help, visit the White House’s site on earthquake relief. (More) (Haiti Earthquake Relief Web site)

NOAA Satellites Help Rescue 195 People in 2009

Image of COSPAS-SARSAT Systems overview. Click for larger image.

NOAA’s fleet of satellites played a vital role in the rescues of 195 people during life-threatening situations throughout the U.S. and its surrounding waters in 2009. In each incident, NOAA satellites pinpointed these downed pilots, shipwrecked mariners, or stranded hikers by detecting a distress signal from an emergency beacon and relaying the information to first responders on the ground. NOAA’s polar-orbiting and geostationary satellites, along with Russia’s Cospas spacecraft, are part of the international Search and Rescue Satellite Aided Tracking system, called COSPAS-SARSAT. (More) (Rescue at sea photo)

NOAA Ranks December Snowstorm a Category 3 on Northeast Snowfall Impact Scale

Graphic of snowfall accumulation from Dec. 18-21, 2009 storm. Click for larger image

To the surprise of no one affected by the Dec. 18-20, 2009 system that dumped heavy snow from the mid-Atlantic to southern New England, NOAA has rated the storm a Category 3 or “Major” winter storm on NOAA’s Northeast Snowfall Impact Scale, also known as NESIS. Topping the NESIS scale—and the only storms rated Category 5—are the “Superstorm” on March, 1993 followed by the “Blizzard of ’96” in January, 1996. The scale, developed in 2004, catalogues storms dating back to 1888. (More)

NOAA Highlights Tsunami Advances, Urges Quick Action When Tsunami Threatens

Logo of TsunamiReady Community. Click to go to TsunamiReady Web site.

NOAA’s TsunamiReady Community

In December 2004, lack of an effective international warning system contributed to unprecedented loss of life when a tsunami devastated countless communities around the Indian Ocean and stunned the rest of the world. Through Commerce’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the United States accelerated preparation for a potential tsunami along the U.S. coastline and efforts to build partnerships for an international warning program. According to NOAA tsunami experts, the key to surviving a destructive tsunami is people’s ability to receive warnings and willingness to act quickly to move inland or to higher ground. (More)

NOAA Assesses Post-Tsunami Marine Debris in American Samoa

Submerged marine debris off Amanave Village in southwestern Tutuila. Click for larger image.

A team from Commerce’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has begun a survey of marine debris generated by the devastating September 29 tsunami in American Samoa. The team is carefully measuring the amount and impact of debris such as roofing and domestic goods in coral reef habitat near villages severely affected by the tsunami. Tsunamis are a natural occurrence, and corals can recover from damage by waves, sediment and plant debris resulting from a tsunami. Marine debris, however, can be very different. (More)

NOAA: U.S. Temperatures Slightly Above Average, Precipitation Above Normal for 2009

Map showing U.S. temeperatures. Click for full-size map.

Global surface temperatures for 2009 will be well above the long-term average, while the annual temperature for the contiguous United States will likely be above the long-term average, according to a preliminary analysis by NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C. The analysis is based on global records, which began in 1880 and U.S. records beginning in 1895. (More) (Temp map) (Precip map) (Precip 1895-2009 graph)

Commerce Department Launches Copenhagen Climate Change Conference Web Site

U.S. COP-15 logo. Click to go to Web site.

The Department of Commerce has launched a Web site devoted to the participation of the United States in the 15th session of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Copenhagen, Denmark, Dec. 7-18. In cooperation with the U.S. State Department’s U.S. Center, the Web site, www.commerce.gov/cop15/, will include daily schedules, links to related content and live Webcasts from the U.S. Center. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke and NOAA Administrator Jane Lubchenco will participate as major speakers at the conference. The Web site link will be available on the right navigation bar of the Commerce homepage for the duration of the conference. (Web site) (NOAA at Copenhagen)

Glider Completes Historic Crossing: New Technology Advances Climate Understanding

Photo of the Scarlet Knight. Click for larger image.

The first-ever 7,300-mile Atlantic Ocean crossing by an unmanned underwater glider is opening up a new world of ocean technology. A ceremony on Dec. 9 in Baiona, Spain, will celebrate the partnership effort among the U.S. interagency Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS) through Rutgers University, NOAA, Puertos Del Estado (Spanish Port Authority), the National Oceanographic Partnership Program, and other European partners. “It is through efforts like this that we will continue to learn more about the wonders of the ocean at a critical time for our planet,” said Richard Spinrad, NOAA assistant administrator for oceanic and atmospheric research. (More)

NOAA: North American 2008 Cooling Attributed to Natural Causes

NOAA map

Cooler North American temperatures in 2008 resulted from a strong natural effect, and the overall warming trend that has been observed since 1970 is likely to resume, according to university and NOAA scientists. “Our work shows that there can be cold periods, but that does not mean the end of global warming. The recent coolness was caused by transitory natural factors that temporarily masked the human-caused signal,” said Judith Perlwitz, lead author of the study and a researcher with the Cooperative Institute for Research Environmental Sciences, and NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory. (More)

NOAA: Slow Atlantic Hurricane Season Comes to a Close

Map tracing paths of hurricanes. Click for full-size.

NOAA map

The 2009 Atlantic hurricane season officially ends today, marking the close of a season with the fewest named storms and hurricanes since 1997 thanks, in part, to El Niño. Commerce’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reported nine named storms formed this year, including three hurricanes, two of which were major hurricanes at Category 3 strength or higher. These numbers fall within the ranges predicted in NOAA’s mid-season outlook issued in August, which called for seven to 11 named storms, three to six hurricanes, and one to two major hurricanes. (More)

NOAA Reports Combined Global Surface Temperature Was Sixth Warmest for October

Photo of melting ice in Arctic Ocean.

The combined global land and ocean surface temperature was the sixth warmest October on record, according to NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C. Based on records going back to 1880, the monthly National Climatic Data Center analysis is part of the suite of climate services NOAA provides. NCDC scientists reported that the average land surface temperature for October was also the sixth warmest on record. Additionally, the global ocean surface temperature was the fifth warmest on record for October. (More)

NOAA Scientists Undertake In-Flight Study of Global Levels of Greenhouse Gas Distribution

Image of research plane with mountains in the background. Click for larger image.

Scientists from Commerce’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) began the second phase of a mission that will provide a detailed view of how carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases are distributed globally. “Missions such as this one are critical to understanding the impacts of greenhouse gases and particulates,” said Jane Lubchenco, Ph.D., NOAA Administrator. “The data collected are also essential to help verify if policies to reduce these heat trapping pollutants are having their intended effect.” (More)

NOAA and Partners Announce South Atlantic Alliance

Image of diver approaching underwater marine life. Click for larger image.

Representatives from Commerce’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the states of North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida announced the formation of a partnership to better manage and protect ocean and coastal resources, ensure regional economic sustainability, and respond to disasters such as hurricanes. The announcement was made during the annual meeting of the Coastal States Organization in Charleston, S.C. (More)

New NOAA System Improves Ship Safety, Efficiency, on Lower Mississippi River and Port of New Orleans

Image of ship in port. Click for larger image.

Ship captains and pleasure boaters can now get free real-time information on water and weather conditions for the lower Mississippi River from a new NOAA ocean observing system that makes piloting a ship safer and more efficient. The NOAA Physical Oceanographic Real-Time System (PORTS®) on the lower Mississippi River provides observations of tides, currents, water and air temperature, barometric pressure, winds and bridge clearance. (More)

NOAA: El Niño to Help Steer U.S. Winter Weather

Map of U.S. with winter temperature outlook. Click for larger image.

El Niño in the central and eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean is expected to be a dominant climate factor that will influence the December through February winter weather in the U.S., according to the 2009 Winter Outlook released by NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center. “We expect El Niño to strengthen and persist through the winter months, providing clues as to what the weather will be like during the period,” says Mike Halpert, deputy director of the Climate Prediction Center. “Warmer ocean water in the equatorial Pacific shifts the patterns of tropical rainfall that in turn change the strength and position of the jet stream and storms over the Pacific Ocean and the U.S.” (More)

NOAA Scientists Study Historic 'Dust Bowl' and Plains Droughts for Triggers

Image of remains of a cornfield after grasshoppers had completed destruction by the Drought of 1931-32. Click for larger image.

After analyzing historical records and climate model data for two major U.S. droughts in the 1930s and 1950s, scientists from Commerce’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) found two very different causes, shedding new light on our understanding of what triggers drought. Studies such as this one that expand our insights into drought are essential for improving forecasts and can aid in the creation of an early warning system to help communities take precautions and prepare. (More)

NOAA: September Temperatures Above-Average for the U.S

Map showing average temperatures. Click for larger image.

September 2009 average temperature for the contiguous United States was above the long-term average, according to NOAA’s monthly State of the Climate report issued today. Based on records going back to 1895, the monthly National Climatic Data Center analysis is part of the suite of climate services NOAA provides. The average September temperature of 66.4 degrees F was 1.0 degree F above the 20th century average. Precipitation across the contiguous United States in September averaged 2.48 inches, exactly the 1901-2000 average. (More)

NOAA Administrator Comments on Release of Interagency Ocean Policy Task Force Interim Report

Portrait of Lubchenco

Jane Lubchenco, Ph.D., Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere and NOAA administrator, commented on the release of the Interagency Ocean Policy Task Force interim report to the President. “Today is a historic day. For the first time, we as a nation say loudly and clearly that healthy oceans matter. . . . The interim report of the Interagency Ocean Policy Task Force lays out a national ocean policy that upholds our stewardship responsibilities, ensures accountability for our actions, and serves as a balanced model of efficient and sustainable ocean, coastal, and Great Lakes management and conservation.” (More) (White House Press Release)

NOAA: Warmest Global Sea-Surface Temperatures for August and Summer

NOAA Visualization

The world’s ocean surface temperature was the warmest for any August on record, and the warmest on record averaged for any June-August (Northern Hemisphere summer/Southern Hemisphere winter) season according to NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C. The preliminary analysis is based on records dating back to 1880. NCDC scientists also reported that the combined average global land and ocean surface temperature for August was the second-warmest on record, behind 1998. For the June-August 2009 season, the combined global land and ocean surface temperature was the third-warmest on record. (More)

Secretary Locke Breaks Ground on Major San Diego-Area Recovery Act Project

Shown with shovels in their hands: NIST Deputy Director Patrick Gallagher, Scripps Institution of Oceanography Directo Director Tony Haymet, Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders, NOAA Chief of Staff Margaret Spring. Click for larger image.

Photo: Robert Monroe/Scripps

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke and Mayor Jerry Sanders led a groundbreaking ceremony in La Jolla, Calif., for two new buildings dedicated to ocean science on the campus of Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego. The project is a major groundbreaking in California under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). The buildings are supported by two federal agencies—the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)—and will feature state-of-the-art marine life tanks and cutting-edge science labs. (More) (Remarks)

Climate Effects of Atmospheric Haze Better Understood, NOAA Researchers Report

Image of hazy sky at sunset. Click for larger image.

Scientists have used a new approach to sharpen the understanding of one of the most uncertain of mankind’s influences on climate—the effects of atmospheric “haze,” the tiny airborne particles from pollution, biomass burning, and other sources. The new observations-based study led by Commerce’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) confirms that the particles (“aerosols”) have the net effect of cooling the planet—in agreement with previous understanding—but arrives at the answer in a completely new way that is more straightforward, and has narrowed the uncertainties of the estimate. (More)

NOAA Administrator Lubchenco, Head of U.S. Delegation, Concludes World Climate Conference-3 in Geneva, Delivers Closing Statement

Lubchenco on podium. Click for larger image.

Jane Lubchenco, Ph.D., Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) administrator, led a U.S. delegation to Geneva, Switzerland, Aug. 31-Sept. 4 for the World Climate Conference-3 in efforts to establish a Global Framework for Climate Services. This framework is intended to help meet accelerating demands for useful information on the impacts of climate change (Closing Delegation Statement) (Sept. 3 Lubchenco Statement)

NOAA Report Explains Sea Level Anomaly this Summer Along U.S. Atlantic Coast

Tide and Currents logo. Click to go to NOAA Center for Operational Oceanographic Products and Services Web site.

Persistent winds and a weakened current in the Mid-Atlantic contributed to higher than normal sea levels along the Eastern Seaboard in June and July, according to a new technical report from Commerce’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). After observing water levels six inches to two feet higher than originally predicted, NOAA scientists began analyzing data from select tide stations and buoys from Maine to Florida and found that a weakening of the Florida Current Transport—an oceanic current that feeds into the Gulf Stream—in addition to steady and persistent Northeast winds, contributed to this anomaly. (More)

NOAA Administrator to Lead U.S. Delegation to World Climate Conference-3

NOAA seal.

Jane Lubchenco, Ph.D., Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Administrator, will lead a U.S. delegation to Geneva, Switzerland, August 31- September 4 for the World Climate Conference-3 in efforts to establish a Global Framework for Climate Services. This framework is intended to help meet accelerating demands for useful information on the impacts of climate change.U.S. officials from more than 10 government agencies and departments will be actively engaged at the conference, learning from the international community and sharing American knowledge and innovations. (More)

Secretary Locke Announces $40 Million in ARRA Projects to Support Efficient Marine Navigation and Create Jobs

Captain Barnum and Secretary Locke on pier. Click for larger image.

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke announced in Norfolk, Va. $40 million for critical hydrographic survey and chart projects across the United States that strengthen the economy, create jobs, and support safe and efficient marine commerce and trade. Funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, the Commerce Department’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) will allocate $32 million to utilize hydrographic surveying contractors to collect data in critical coastal areas which are used to map the seafloor and update nautical charts. (More) (Remarks)

NOAA: Warmest Global Ocean Surface Temperatures on Record for July

Image of Earth featuring oceans. Click for larger image.

The planet’s ocean surface temperature was the warmest on record for July, breaking the previous high mark established in 1998, according to an analysis by NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C. The combined average global land and ocean surface temperature for July 2009 ranked fifth-warmest since world-wide records began in 1880. The July ocean surface temperature departure of 1.06 degrees F from the long-term average equals last month’s value, which was also a record. (More) (National Climatic Data Center) (June Analysis)

Study: Better Observations, Analyses Detecting Short-Lived Tropical Systems

Satellite image of Tropical Storm Chantal forming south of Halifax, Nova Scotia. Click for larger image.

A NOAA-led team of scientists has found that the apparent increase in the number of tropical storms and hurricanes since the late 19th and early 20th centuries is likely attributable to improvements in observational tools and analysis techniques that better detect short-lived storms. The new study shows that short-lived tropical storms and hurricanes, defined as lasting two days or less, have increased from less than one per year to about five per year from 1878 to 2008. (More)

NOAA Joins Other U.S. Agencies and Canada to Survey Arctic Continental Shelf

Image of U.S. and Canada Coast Guard icebreakers side by side. Click for larger image.

The Department of Commerce’s National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) will join a multi-agency joint expedition that will bring together icebreakers from the U.S. and Canada to collect and share data useful to both countries in defining the full extent of the Arctic continental shelf. The Arctic survey is part of the multi-year, multi-agency effort undertaken by the U.S. Extended Continental Shelf Project, led by the Department of State, with vice co-chairs from the Department of the Interior and NOAA. NOAA’s Office of Ocean Exploration and Research provided key funding for the U.S. mission. (More)

NOAA Lowers Hurricane Season Outlook, Cautions Public Not to Let Down Guard

According to its August Atlantic hurricane season outlook, Commerce’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) now expects a near- to below-normal Atlantic hurricane season, as the calming effects of El Niño continue to develop. But scientists say the season’s quiet start does not guarantee quiet times ahead. The season, which began June 1, is entering its historical peak period of August through October, when most storms form. “While this hurricane season has gotten off to a quiet start, it’s critical that the American people are prepared in case a hurricane strikes,” said Commerce Secretary Gary Locke. (More) (Animation of El Niño in Pacific)

NOAA and Partners to Survey Ships Sunk off North Carolina in World War II

Underwater image of shipwrecks. Clicker for larger image.

Commerce’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) will lead a three-week research expedition in August to study World War II shipwrecks sunk in 1942 off the coast of North Carolina during the Battle of the Atlantic. The shipwrecks are located in an area known as the “Graveyard of the Atlantic,” which includes sunken vessels from U.S. and British naval fleets, merchant ships and German U-boats. “The information collected during this expedition will help us better understand and document this often lost chapter of America’s maritime history and its significance to the nation,” said David W. Alberg, expedition leader and superintendent. (More)

Commerce Department Launches U.S. Recovery Act Project Funding Map

Map of United States. Click to go to interactive ARRA map.

The U.S. Department of Commerce has launched an interactive map indicating the project locations of communities and recipients funded by the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) on www.commerce.gov/recovery. Five agencies of the Department of Commerce (NTIA, EDA, NIST, NOAA and the U.S. Census Bureau) received a total of $7.9 billion for U.S. job creation and economic growth as part of the historic economic stimulus bill signed by President Obama in February, 2009. The map also includes data from the USDA and HUD Recovery Web sites. (More) (DOC Recovery Map)

NOAA Reports GOES-14 Spacecraft Shows First Image

The spacecraft is transported to the launch site on large truck beds. Click for larger image.

NASA Photo

NOAA’s newest Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES) took its first full-disc visible image on July 27 at 2 p.m. EDT. GOES-14 joins three other operational NOAA GOES spacecraft that help the agency’s forecasters track life-threatening weather and solar activity that can impact the satellite-based electronics and communications industry. The satellites continuously provide observations of 60 percent of the Earth including the continental U.S., providing weather monitoring and forecast operations as well as a continuous and reliable stream of environmental information and severe weather Warnings. (More Photos and NASA Video of Launch)

NOAA: Smaller Than Expected, But Severe, Dead Zone in Gulf of Mexico

Image of mouth of Mississippi River showing nutrient run-off. Click for animated vizualization.

Commerce’s NOAA-supported scientists, led by Nancy Rabalais, Ph.D. from the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium, found the size of this year’s Gulf of Mexico dead zone to be smaller than forecasted, measuring 3,000 square miles. However, the dead zone, which is usually limited to water just above the sea floor, was severe where it did occur, extending closer to the water surface than in most years. Earlier this summer, NOAA-sponsored forecast models predicted a larger than normal dead zone area of between 7,450–8,456 square miles. (More) (Graphic of Dead Zone)(NOAA Visualization)

NOAA: Global Ocean Surface Temperature Warmest on Record for June

Image of Earth featuring oceans. Click for larger image.

The world’s ocean surface temperature was the warmest on record for June, breaking the previous high mark set in 2005, according to a preliminary analysis by NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C., a bureau of the Department of Commerce. Additionally, the combined average global land and ocean surface temperature for June was the second-warmest on record. The global records began in 1880. (More) (National Climatic Data Center)

NOAA Scientists Find Tsunami "Shadow" Visible from Space

Ground track of satellite image, showing progress of tsunami at hourly intervals. Click for larger image.

For the first time, Scientists from Commerce’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) have demonstrated that tsunamis in the open ocean can change sea surface texture in a way that can be measured by satellite-borne radars. The finding could one day help save lives through improved detection and forecasting of tsunami intensity and direction at the ocean surface.“We’ve found that roughness of the surface water provides a good measure of the true strength of the tsunami along its entire leading edge. This is the first time that we can see tsunami propagation in this way across the open ocean,” said lead author Oleg Godin. (More)

El Niño Arrives: Expected to Persist Through Winter 2009-2010

Image of sea surface temperatures along the equatorial Eastern Pacific, as of July 1. Click for larger image.

The Department of Commerce’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced the arrival of El Niño, a climate phenomenon with a significant influence on global weather, ocean conditions and marine fisheries. El Niño, the periodic warming of central and eastern tropical Pacific waters, occurs on average every two to five years and typically lasts about 12 months. NOAA expects this El Niño to continue developing during the next several months, with further strengthening possible. The event is expected to last through winter 2009-2010. (More) (Animation)

NOAA and University of California Sign Ground Lease for New Fisheries Center

Artist's rendering of campus and proposed buildings. Click for larger image.

The Department of Commerce’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the University of California have signed a 55-year ground lease clearing the way for construction next year of a new federal laboratory and office center at the University of California, San Diego’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography campus in La Jolla. “This is a key step as we prepare for construction of a world-class research facility where hundreds of federal and university scientists will investigate the entire ecosystem of fish and marine mammals off the California coast and beyond,” said Jane Lubchenco, Ph.D., under secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator. (More)

Secretary Locke Announces $167 Million in Recovery Act Funding for 50 Coastal Restoration Projects

Workers and Lubchenco pose in front of earthmoving equipment. Click for larger image.

Commerce Secretary Gary Locke announced 50 habitat restoration projects that will restore damaged wetlands, shellfish beds, coral reefs and reopen fish passages that boost the health and resiliency of our nation’s coastal and Great Lakes communities. Under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, the Department’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration was provided $167 million for marine and coastal habitat restoration. "These Recovery Act projects will put Americans to work while restoring our coasts and combating climate change,” Locke said. (More)

NOAA Observes Lightning Safety Awareness Week, Advises 'When Thunder Roars, Go Indoors!'

Image of jagged lightning bolts. Click for larger image.

Commerce’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is sponsoring National Lightning Safety Awareness Week, June 21-27, to help the public learn how to recognize and avoid the dangers of lightning. Violent summer storms can form quickly and stretch for hundreds of miles and can produce deadly lightning capable of striking up to 10 miles away. Each year in the United States more than 400 people are struck by lightning. “Lightning is extremely dangerous,” says John Jensenius, National Weather Service lightning safety expert. “The best advice is, ‘When thunder roars, go indoors.’” (More) (Lightning Safety Brochure-PDF)

NOAA Forecasts Predicts large "Dead Zone" for Gulf of Mexico this Summer

Image of mouth of Mississippi River showing nutrient run-off. Click for data visualization.

A team of NOAA-supported scientists from the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium, Louisiana State University, and the University of Michigan is forecasting that the “dead zone” off the coast of Louisiana and Texas in the Gulf of Mexico this summer could be one of the largest on record. The dead zone is an area in the Gulf of Mexico where seasonal oxygen levels drop too low to support most life in bottom and near-bottom waters. The mouth of the Mississippi River (imaged here) is an example of how nutrient run-off creates plankton blooms. (More) (NOAA Visualization)

Report Released on National, Regional Impacts of Global Climate Change

Image of washed-out highway by flood waters. Click for larger image.

A new report, “Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States,” compiles years of scientific research and takes into account new data not available during the preparation of previous large national and global assessments. It was produced by a consortium of experts from13 U.S. government science agencies and from several major universities and research institutes. A product of the interagency U.S. Global Change Research Program, the definitive 190-page report, produced under NOAA’s leadership, is written in plain language to better inform members of the public and policymakers. (More) (Report Information)

NOAA: U.S. Contiguous States Temperature Warmer Than Average for May

Map of U.S. states. Click for larger image.

The U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reports that the May 2009 temperature for the contiguous United States was above the long-term average, based on records going back to 1895, according to an analysis by NOAA’s National Climatic Data Centerin Asheville, N.C. The average May temperature of 62.5 degrees F was 1.4 degrees F above the 20th century average. Precipitation across the contiguous United States in May averaged 3.22 inches, which is 0.35 inch above the 1901-2000 average. (More)

NOAA Partners with National Science Foundation, Universities and Other Organizations in VORTEX2 Research Project

Image of large tornado touching the ground. Click for larger image.

The Department of Commerce’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is engaged in the largest and most ambitious attempt to study tornadoes in history and will involve more than 100 scientists and 40 research vehicles. The project, Verification of the Origins of Rotation in Tornadoes EXperiment2 (VORTEX2 or V2) will last for five weeks in May and June. Scientists will sample the environments of supercell thunderstorms that form over much of the U.S. but are more common in the central Great Plains known as “tornado alley.” This collaborative, nationwide research effort is jointly funded by NOAA, the National Science Foundation, 10 universities, and three nonprofit organizations. (More)

NOAA, Army Corps of Engineers to Build Alaska Satellite Operations Facility

Illustration of COSPAS-SARSAT Symtem Overview. Click for larger image.

The Commerce Department’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), working with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, will construct a new NOAA satellite operations facility in Fairbanks, Alaska. The contract is valued at $11.7 million. NOAA will use $9 million in funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 and additional funding provided by the Omnibus Appropriations Act, 2009 to complete this project. NOAA’s Office of the Chief Administrative Officer and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Alaska District, will jointly manage the construction effort. (More)

NOAA Announces New Cooperative Institute for Climate and Satellites

Satellite image of Hurricane Katrina. Click for larger image.

Scientists from Commerce’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) have teamed up with experts from the University of Maryland and North Carolina State University to form the Cooperative Institute for Climate and Satellites. The new institute will use satellite observations to detect, monitor and forecast climate change, and its impact on the environment, including ecosystems. “To help us understand climate change, we have to find ways to best leverage all of our available resources, including the information we get from satellites,” said Mary Kicza, assistant administrator for NOAA’s Satellite and Information Service. (More)

NOAA Observes National Hurricane Preparedness Week

NOAA seal.

To reduce the effects of a hurricane disaster, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced Hurricane Preparedness Week May 24-30, 2009. History teaches that a lack of hurricane awareness and preparation are common threads among all major hurricane disasters. The goal of this Hurricane Preparedness Web site is to inform the public about the hurricane hazards and provide knowledge which can be used to take action. This information can be used to save lives at work, home, while on the road, or on the water. (More)

NOAA Issues Atlantic Hurricane Season Outlook, Encourages Preparedness

Secretary Locke and officials at airport with NOAA plane in background. Click for alrger image

Commerce’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) forecasters say a near-normal Atlantic hurricane season is most likely this year. However, as with any season, the need to prepare for the possibility of a storm striking is essential. “Today, more than 35 million Americans live in regions most threatened by Atlantic hurricanes,” Commerce Secretary Gary Locke said at a Washington, D.C. area airport. “Timely and accurate warnings of severe weather help save lives and property. Public awareness and public preparedness are the best defenses against a hurricane.” (More)

NOAA Report: Four Fish Stocks Declared Fully Rebuilt

Monkfish in buckets. Click for larger image.

NOAA’s Fisheries Service of the Commerce Department reported to Congress that four stocks—Atlantic bluefish, Gulf of Mexico king mackerel and two stocks of monkfish in the Atlantic—have been rebuilt to allow for continued sustainable fishing. This is the largest number of stocks to be declared rebuilt in a single year since the fisheries service declared the first stock successfully rebuilt in 2001. “Rebuilding these four stocks so they can support the highest sustainable harvest for future generations of Americans is a significant milestone,” said Jim Balsiger, acting NOAA assistant administrator for NOAA’s Fisheries Service. (More)

NOAA Researchers: Blue Whales Re-establishing Former Migration Patterns

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Scientists have documented the first known migration of blue whales from the coast of California to areas off British Columbia and the Gulf of Alaska since the end of commercial whaling in 1965. In the scientific journal Marine Mammal Science, researchers from Cascadia Research Collective in Washington state, NOAA’s Southwest Fisheries Science Center in California, and Canada’s Department of Fisheries and Oceans identified 15 separate cases where blue whales were seen off British Columbia and the Gulf of Alaska. (More)

NOAA, U.S. Coast Guard: New Ocean Current Data to Improve Search and Rescue Activities

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U.S. Coast Guard Photo

A new set of ocean observing data that enhances the ability to track probable paths of victims and drifting survivor craft should improve search and rescue efforts along the U.S. coast. The data comes from the Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS®), part of a joint effort among Commerce’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the Mid-Atlantic Coastal Ocean Observing Regional Association, the U.S. Coast Guard and the Department of Homeland Security. The new data sets include surface current maps from high frequency radar systems. (More)

NOAA Dedicates New Chesapeake Bay Research Vessel

Image of the R/V Bay Hyrdo II speeding through the water. Click for larrger image.

Commerce’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) christened a new state-of-the-art research vessel, R/V Bay Hydro II, which will collect oceanographic data in the Chesapeake Bay region—data critical to safe navigation and environmental protection in the nation’s largest estuary. The dedication took place in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, featuring a ceremonial breaking of a champagne bottle over the bow and a cannon salute from the USS Constellation. (More)

NOAA Submits Proposed Recovery Plan to Congress to Help Create Jobs, Improve Coastal Communities and Protect Habitat

ARRA logo. Click to go to Commerce.gov/Recovery.

Commerce’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) submitted to Congress its proposed Recovery plan to create jobs, strengthen the economy, and restore our environment. Under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, NOAA was provided $830 million. NOAA estimates its planned expenditures will create a significant number of new jobs and strengthen the economy, spurring the creation of additional jobs.NOAA’s investments in weather forecasting and research, fisheries, ocean and coastal management are aimed at safeguarding lives and putting Americans to work. (More)

NOAA: Early Warning System Forecasts Deadly Mudslides

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Scientists from Commerce’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the U.S. Geological Survey have developed a prototype debris flow warning system using weather forecasts and precipitation measurements along with regional USGS rainfall rate thresholds to determine the probability of debris flows. In the United States, approximately 25 to 50 deaths a year can be attributed to the phenomenon of debris flow—or mudslides as they are more commonly known—with monetary losses exceeding $2 billion annually. (More)

NOAA Seeks Proposals That Will Restore Coastal Habitat, Create Jobs, Stimulate Economy

ARRA 2009 logo.

Commerce’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) NOAA has begun accepting proposals for coastal habitat restoration projects under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The effort will foster healthy and resilient American communities while generating and protecting jobs for the thousands of people whose task it will be to restore valuable coastal and marine habitat. NOAA anticipates that up to $170 million may be available for coastal and marine habitat restoration; typical awards are expected to range between $1.5 million and $10 million. (More)

NOAA's National Weather Service and FEMA Offer Flood Safety Tips for Flood Safety Awareness Week

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Floodwaters can be swift, powerful and, at times, deadly. However, advanced planning can help protect lives and minimize property losses due to flooding. With the spring thaw approaching, NOAA's National Weather Service and FEMA are partnering to observe the fifth annual Flood Safety Awareness Week, March 16-20, 2009. The National Weather Service, along with FEMA’s FloodSmart program, has launched a new Web page that shows the effects and cost of flooding to millions of people in the United States. (More)

NOAA Report Uncovers Why Some People Don?t Heed Severe Weather Warnings

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NOAA’s National Weather Service has issued a report that analyzes forecasting performance and public response during the second deadliest tornado outbreak in U.S. history.The report, Service Assessment of the Super Tuesday Tornado Outbreak of February 5-6, 2008, also addresses a key area of concern: why some people take cover while others ride out severe weather. Dubbed the “Super Tuesday” tornado outbreak due to the presidential primary elections held that day, 82 tornadoes raked nine states throughout the South, killing 57 people, injuring 350 others and causing $400 million in property damage. (More)

New Deep-Sea Coral Discovered on NOAA-Supported Mission

Image of orange bamboo coral is another new species and new genus found in the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument. It is between four and five feet tall, and was found 5,745 feet below the surface. Click for larger image.

Scientists identified seven new species of bamboo coral discovered on a NOAA-funded mission in the deep waters of the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument. Six of these species may represent entirely new genera, a remarkable feat given the broad classification a genus represents. A genus is a major category in the classification of organisms, ranking above a species and below a family. Scientists expect to identify more new species as analysis of samples continues. (More)

NOAA National Weather Service Fire Weather Experts Assisting In Australia

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Fire weather forecasters from NOAA’s National Weather Service are on duty in Australia providing crucial weather information to forecasters in the Australian Bureau of Meteorology as they battle wildfires ravaging southeastern Australia. NOAA’s National Weather Service and the Australian Bureau of Meteorology agreed in 2006 to exchange fire weather expertise and staff during the U.S. and Australian wildfire seasons, which occur at opposite times of the year in the Northern and Southern Hemispheres. (More)

UNH/NOAA Report: Arctic Region Unprepared for Maritime Accidents

Photo of ice and open water in the Beaufort Sea north of Alaska. Click for larger image.

The existing infrastructure for responding to maritime accidents in the Arctic is limited and more needs to be done to enhance emergency response capacity as Arctic sea ice declines and ship traffic in the region increases, according to new report released by the University of New Hampshire and the Commerce Department’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). (More)

NOAA Team to Train Fishery Observers in Senegal

Photo depicting NOAA workshop in Ghana to train fishery observers. Click here for larger image.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) scientists will travel to the west African nation of Senegal this week to train government officials and university students to be marine resource observers on fishing boats. The observers will collect scientific information about the health of fish stocks and the amount of incidental bycatch of marine mammals and other protected species. This information is used to manage fish stocks and protect marine resources domestically and internationally, through organizations such as the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas. (More)

NOAA Prepares to Launch New Polar-Orbiting Satellite for Climate and Weather

Photo of satellite.

A new NOAA polar-orbiting environmental satellite, set to launch next month, will support NOAA’s weather and ocean forecasts, including long-range climate predictions for El Niño and La Niña and support U.S. search and rescue operations. The new spacecraft – NOAA-N Prime – is scheduled to lift off from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California on Feb. 4, 2009 at 2:22 a.m. PST. Once in orbit, NOAA-N Prime will be called NOAA-19, the latestin the series of NOAA polar-orbiting environmental satellites that have served the nation. (More)

First Wintertime Observations Find Ozone Soaring Near Natural Gas Field

NOAA seal.

During the past three winters, ozone—normally linked to hot-weather and urban pollution—has soared to health-threatening levels near a remote natural gas field in northwestern Wyoming. Now, scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Earth System Research Laboratory have solved the problem of how ozone can form in cold weather at levels threatening to human health. Their results, published Jan. 18 in the journal Nature Geosciences, are forcing researchers to rethink the mechanics of ground-level ozone production. (More)