[A History of NOAA, Being a Compilation of Facts and Figures Regarding the Life and Times of the Original Whole Earth Agency. Compiled by Eileen L. Shea, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, 44 pp., 1987]
EILEEN L. Shea
NOAA Representative to the
Department of Commerce
NOAA Central Library
Notes and acknowledgements
The following History was begun as NOAA's contribution to a Department-wide effort to produce a Commerce History which would serve as the Department's contribution to the national celebration of the Bicentennial of the Constitution. In addition to serving as source material to staff of the Department's Historical Council, I thought it might be useful to distribute the NOAA History, in the entirety, within the Agency.
Most of the material in the History was drawn from existing documents -- published and unpublished. I have, wherever possible, given credit to the authors responsible for those earlier works - especially in those cases where, as with Dane Konop's history of the National Ocean Survey, highlights of significant historical events were used almost verbatim. I am grateful to these individuals as well as the anonymous authors of the countless internal agency documents used in researching the History. If readers of this document can identify any of these unidentified contributors, I'd appreciate an opportunity to give them due credit!
his History is meant to be an internal agency reference document and there are no plans to publish or distribute it publicly. I learned a great deal about this exciting agency as I compiled the document and thought that others in the NOAA family might find it interesting as well. We are all part of a dynamic organization that continues to touch the lives of every citizen of the United States every day. We can and should take pride not only in our past accomplishments but also in the future promise of this original "whole earth" agency.
I offer my personal thanks to all the people who made this history possible and a special "thank you" to Ms. Julie Campbell, Office of Legislative Affairs, for her invaluable assistance.
Eileen L. Shea
NOAA Representative, DOC
NOAA -- SOME PRE-HISTORY
The oceans and atmosphere are interacting parts of the total environmental
system upon which we depend, not only for the quality of our lives, but
for life itself.
We face immediate and compelling needs for better protection of life
and property from natural hazards, and for a better understanding of the
total environment -- an understanding which will enable us more effectively
to monitor and predict its actions, and ultimately, perhaps to exercise
some degree of control over them.
We also face a compelling need for exploration and development leading
to the intelligent use of our marine resources. We must understand the
nature of these resources, and assure their development without either
contaminating the marine environment or upsetting its balance.
Establishment of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
-- NOAA -- within the Department of Commerce would enable us to approach
these tasks in a coordinated way. 
We face immediate and compelling needs for better protection of life
and property from natural hazards, and for a better understanding of the
total environment -- an understanding which will enable us more effectively
to monitor and predict its actions, and ultimately, perhaps to exercise
some degree of control over them.
We also face a compelling need for exploration and development leading
to the intelligent use of our marine resources. We must understand the
nature of these resources, and assure their development without either
contaminating the marine environment or upsetting its balance.
Establishment of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
-- NOAA -- within the Department of Commerce would enable us to approach
these tasks in a coordinated way. 
With these words, published in July 1970, President Richard M. Nixon
proposed the creation of a new agency -- the National Oceanic and Atmospheric
The proposal, which was coupled with the creation of the Environmental
Protection Agency, was part of a reorganization effort, which, according
to the reorganization plan itself, was designed to unify the nation's widely
scattered, piece-meal environmental activities and provide a rational and
systematic approach to understanding, protecting, developing and enhancing
the total environment. In addition to a specific responsibility for the
rational development and conservation of marine fisheries, NOAA was to
lead the development of a consolidated national oceanic and atmospheric
research and development program and provide a variety of scientific and
technical services to other Federal agencies, private sector interests
and the general public.
The goals, responsibilities and programs of NOAA today reflect a continued
commitment to the philosophy which created it. NOAA's primary mission and
the ultimate goal of all its activities is to predict environmental changes
on a wide range of time and space scales in order to protect life and property,
and provide industry and government decision-makers with a reliable base
of scientific information.
Specifically, NOAA is a science-based agency which has the responsibility
to predict changes in the oceanic and atmospheric environments and living
marine resources, and to provide related data, information, and services
to the public, industry, the research community, and other government agencies.
These efforts range from warnings of severe events on short time-scales
to information on climate shifts over decades or more. The main purpose
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efforts is to support NOAA's operational environmental warning, forecast,
prediction, assessment, and information management responsibilities.
Just as they fulfill NOAA's environmental prediction responsibility,
most, if not all, of the Agency's activities also contribute to the major
Department of Commerce goal of Stimulating Productivity and Economic Development.
Providing reliable forecasts and warnings of changing environmental conditions
(like severe weather) protects life and property and enables industry to
take appropriate actions. NOAA's programs to predict and assess significant
changes in the ocean, coastal and Great Lakes environments ensures the
safe, efficient, and cost-effective use of those marine environments and
promotes the development of associated industry.
Providing reliable fishery stock assessments and projections can significantly
enhance the magnitude of the contribution of the domestic fishing industry
to the U.S. balance of trade.
The creation of NOAA was largely the result of an effort which began
in June 1966 with enactment of the
Marine Resources and Engineering
Development Act of 1966
(P.L. 89-454). The Act declared it to be the
policy of the United States to:
develop, encourage, and maintain a coordinated, comprehensive, and long-range
national program in marine science for the benefit of mankind, to assist
in protection of health and property, enhancement of commerce, transportation,
and national security, rehabilitation of our commercial fisheries, and
increased utilization of these and other resources.
To ensure the effective implementation of this policy, the Act created
a Commission on Marine Science, Engineering and Resources to review and
assess existing and planned U.S. marine science activities and recommend
the required national oceanographic program and Governmental organizational
The Commission was comprised of fifteen members, appointed by the President,
representing Federal and State governments, industry, academia, and other
institutions with programs or interest in marine science and technology.
The Commission was chaired by Julius A. Stratton, Chairman of the Ford
Foundation, and included: Leon Jaworski (then Attorney with Fulbright,
Crooker, Freeman, Bates and Jaworski), John H. Perry, Jr. (President Perry
Publications, Inc.), John Knauss (Dean, Graduate School of Oceanography,
University of Rhode Island), and Robert M. White (Administrator of the
Commerce Department's Environmental Science Services Administration). As
specified in the Act, the Commission was provided with four Congressional
advisors including former Senator Warren G. Magnuson of Washington -- a
name which is associated with much of this nation's ocean-related legislation.
The "Stratton Commission", as it came to be called, began deliberations
in early 1967 and on January 9, 1969 submitted their final report to the
President and Congress. That document,
Our Nation and the Sea: A Plan
for National Action
, set the stage for the evolution of this Nation's
current programs in marine science and resource development.
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Of particular interest was the Commission's recommendation to create
a new National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency which would administer the
Nation's principal civil marine and atmospheric programs. The Commission
was largely driven by the need to ensure the "full and wise use of the
marine environment" but, in reviewing the need to describe, understand
and predict global ocean processes, they recognized the need to address
the oceans and atmosphere as interactive components of the global environment.
As a result, they recommended that the new Agency incorporate atmospheric
science as well.
As envisioned by the Commission, the new independent Agency was to be
initially composed of:
The Commission urged that "Because of the importance of the seas to
this Nation and the world, our Federal organization of marine affairs must
be put in order." 
Reorganization Plan #4
Immediately after publication of
Our Nation and the Sea
responded by beginning deliberations on the creation of the new agency.
The concept was also incorporated into President Nixon's Advisory Council
on Executive Organization. This Council, appointed in 1969 and chaired
by Ray L. Ash (Litton Industries), made a series of recommendations on
re-structuring the executive branch. One of those proposals was to replace
the Department of Interior with a new Department of Natural Resources.
One of the elements of the Department was to be a National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration which would combine some elements of the Department
of Interior with the Environmental Science Services Administration (ESSA)
of the Department of Commerce. Then Secretary of Commerce, Maurice Stans,
noting that ESSA would comprise more than two-thirds of this new Agency
(some 10,000 employees and an estimated FY 1970 budget of approximately
$200 million) countered with a proposal to,
at least initially
consolidate and house NOAA within Commerce and transfer it to the proposed
Department of Natural Resources at a later date.  Prior to the Stans'
proposal, the Administration had been considering housing an interim organization
in the Department of Interior. The logic of Secretary Stans' recommendation, possibly combined with some political tensions between the White House
and Interior Secretary Hickel, lead [Ed. led] to a decision in favor of Commerce.
Deliberations within the Executive Branch finally resulted in Reorganization
Plan No. 4 of 1970 which was proposed in early July and became effective
ninety days later in October 1970. President Nixon had concurred with Secretary
Stans and, incorporating elements from the Stratton Commission Report,
the Ash Council recommendations, and Congressional deliberations, proposed
that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration be created within
the Department of Commerce.
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Like the Stratton Commission Report, Reorganization Plan No. 4 proposed
that the following programs be transferred to the new agency:
Reorganization Plan No. 4 did
implement the Stratton Commission's
recommendation to include the Coast Guard in the new NOAA, but went beyond
that Commission's proposed agency by also including:
In testimony before the House Committee on Government Operations, Secretary
Stans described the creation of NOAA as an extension of the Department's
historical science and technology programs:
We already have in the Department the solid base of science and technology
which will buttress the foundation of an exciting and vigorous NOAA...
I believe that the new National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
will enable this nation in the decades ahead to fully and wisely utilize
and understand the oceans and the atmosphere. This new initiative ... will
greatly enhance the quality of our environment, our security, our economy,
and our ability to meet increased demands for food and raw materials. I
regard the establishment of NOAA as an essential step forward. 
In order to understand the consolidated agency, one must look first
at the history and programs of its component organizations. In the case
of NOAA, those histories are wide and varied and in one case, represent
some of the oldest activities of the Department of Commerce -- dating back
to 1807! The following sections will provide some insight into the major
programs/organizations which, in October 1970, became NOAA.
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Environmental Science Services Administration
The Environmental Science Services Administration (ESSA), the largest
single piece of the new NOAA, was itself the product of a reorganization
plan. In Reorganization Plan No. 2 of 1965, President Johnson proposed
the consolidation of two long-standing agencies of the Department of Commerce
-- the Coast and Geodetic Survey and the Weather Bureau. In addition, the
new ESSA was to include the Central Radio Propagation Laboratory of the
National Bureau of Standards. President Johnson's May 13, 1965 message
to Congress noted that:
The new Administration will then provide a single national focus for
our efforts to describe, understand, and predict the state of the oceans,
the state of the lower and upper atmosphere, and the size and shape of
As described by President Johnson and, then Director of the Weather
Bureau, Dr. Robert White, the creation of ESSA:
The creation of ESSA was the result of deliberations by a special committee
established in May 1964 to review the environmental science service activities
and responsibilities of the Department of Commerce. The committee, comprised
of the heads of the National Bureau of Standards (NBS), the Weather Bureau,
and the Coast and Geodetic Survey and supported by a panel of respected
scientists from industry and academia, was established by Dr. Herbert Hollomon,
Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Science and Technology and reflect [Ed. reflected] the Department's longstanding commitment to management efficiency, the
effective provision of quality public services. 
Coast and Geodetic Survey
Often referred to as the Nation's oldest scientific agency, the "Survey
of the Coast" was established on February 10, 1807 by President Thomas
Jefferson. The increasing importance of waterborne Commerce to the new
Nation prompted Jefferson to sign legislation to "cause a survey to be
taken of coasts of the United States."  Using officers detailed from
the Navy (for the seagoing portion of charting) and from the Army Topographical
Bureau, the "Survey" conducted its early activities under the U.S. Department
of Treasury where it shared vessels with the Revenue Cutter Service, forerunner
of the Coast Guard. The Survey has a rich and interesting history but,
since the focus of this volume is recent Department history (post World
War II), the early years will be represented by the following highlights
of significant events:
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World War II placed unprecedented demands on the services of the Coast
and Geodetic Survey. During the war, nautical chart production increased
10-fold, and aeronautical chart production increased a phenomenal 25-fold.
Again, more than half of the Survey's commissioned officers and many civilian
employees served in the military. Also, three of the Survey's nine major
ships were ordered into duty with the Navy. In fact, the Coast and Geodetic
narrowly survived a kamikaze hit in the Pacific
and was ultimately scuttled at Bataan in 1942 after taking two hits in the Japanese attack against the Philippines.
In the early 1950's, there was a growing awareness of the need for oceanographic
exploration and new methods and equipment for marine research, as well
as a growing realization of the importance of the world's ocean resources.
The Coast and Geodetic Survey began to meet these new needs for oceanographic
information by incorporating new advances in marine technology that grew
out of developments made during World War II, such as electronic echo sounding equipment and positioning systems. These new systems did much
to improve the speed and accuracy of the collection of hydrographic and
oceanographic data. However, because the recording, processing, and plotting
of survey data were still performed manually, the Survey's capacity to
use the data fully was lagging behind the capability to collect the data.
In the 1960's the Survey began a program to develop a computer-assisted
system for handling the massive amounts of hydrographic data that were
being collected. In 1962, the Survey's Pacific Marine Center produced the
first automatically processed and machine-plotted hydrographic smooth sheet
-- the first step in the marriage of hydrography and automated data processing.
Ultimately, this work culminated in the development of the Hydroplot System,
which became the mainstay for the Survey's hydrographic survey operations.
The system, which is only now facing obsolescence, is considered by many
to be the first, and most practical, automated hydrographic survey system--and
a major milestone in the history of hydrography.
In the 1960's, the Survey's fleet of 14 ships was replaced with new,
larger, and more sophisticated survey ships designed specifically for hydrographic
and oceanographic work. In 1970, with the formation of the National Oceanic
and Atmospheric Administration, the name of this new fleet of ships was
changed to the NOAA Fleet. At the same time, the Coast and Geodetic Survey
was renamed the National Ocean Survey, and the Lake Survey Center, which
was responsible for surveying functions on the Great Lakes, was transferred
from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to NOS. 
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The second oldest element of what became the Environmental Science Services
Administration was the Weather Bureau. 1991 will mark the 100th anniversary
weather service which was created on July 1, 1891
when an Act of Congress transferred the weather bureau from the Army Signal
Corps to the Department of Agriculture. This action was preceded however
by nearly 250 years of weather observation and study in the U.S. Historians
agree that the first continuous weather records in the U.S. were kept in
1644 and 1645 by the Reverend John Campanius Holm near Wilmington, Delaware.
While many other individuals kept "weather diaries" from time to time around
the country, the best known is probably Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson was
considered a weather expert in his day and often responded to questions
about American weather and climate. The War of 1812 brought the first
collection of weather observations. Responding to growing interest in the
effect of weather on health, Dr. James Tilton, the Surgeon-General of the
Army, ordered hospital surgeons to observe the weather and keep climatological
records. The following highlights summarize the most significant events
during the pre-World War II history of the Weather Bureau:
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Also in 1940, the Weather Bureau was transferred to the Department of
Commerce. President Roosevelt's explanation for this reorganization noted
that the move would "permit better coordination of Government activities
relating to aviation and to commerce generally..."
In fact during and after World War II, the tremendous growth of the
Weather Bureau was due largely to the expansion of aviation. Increasing
performance capabilities of aircraft required improved observing and reporting
networks, communications systems and forecasting organization. After World
War II, surplus radars were acquired by the Bureau to track the movement
of rain areas, storms and squall lines. In 1942, building on early work
on the use of computers for weather prediction, (which the Weather Bureau,
the Air Weather Service and the Naval Weather Service supported at the
Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey, MIT, and the University
of Chicago), a central Analysis Center was created to prepare and distribute
master analyses of the upper atmosphere. The Joint Numerical Weather Prediction
Unit was established in the Center in 1954 and by 1985, operational computer
weather forecasts had become routine. In 1958, this Center became part
of the National Meteorological Center which provides guidance to the field
stations by preparing weather analyses and forecasts for the Northern Hemisphere.
In 1948, the teletypewriter was supplemented by facsimile transmission
-- a wirephoto technique used to transmit analyzed maps and charts from
analysis centers to field weather stations. In 1954, automatic observing
stations, which made weather measurements and transmitted them by teletypewriter,
were first placed in operation. Also during that year, the Bureau began
the installation of high-powered radars along the coastline to detect and
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hurricanes. The Bureau began an ongoing study of hurricanes in 1956
with the establishment of the National Hurricane Research Project. In a
similar effort to improve forecasts of inland severe storms, the Weather
Bureau established a severe storm forecast center in 1952. While Signal
Corps officers had attempted to predict the occurrence of tornadoes, early
Weather Bureau forecasters were not permitted to issue tornado forecasts
for fear of causing panic. The ability to make accurate forecasts of severe
storms was only made possible with the development of modern methods of
upper air observation and air-mass analysis.
Perhaps the most exciting developments in recent Weather Service history
can be traced to April 1960 when NASA launched the first weather satellite.
The polar-orbiting [Ed. inclined orbit] TIROS-1 (Television lnfra-Red Observation Satellite)
built by RCA, provided forecasters with the first view of cloud (i.e.,
weather) patterns as they developed and moved across the continent. The
history of weather satellites like TIROS actually trace their history back
to the 1950's when scientists like the Weather Bureau's Dr. Harry Wexler
began to push for the development of satellites for weather studies and
measurements. Dr. Wexler's 1954 paper "Observing the Weather from a Satellite
Vehicle" remains a classic in the field.  The mid-late 1950's saw the
development and testing of a number of military-sponsored satellite systems
for weather observations. Prior to 1958, these experiments were part of
broader satellite experimentation. In 1958, however, the Defense Department
began a program to develop a spacecraft specifically for meteorological
purposes. This "TIROS" program was transferred to NASA in April 1959.
In 1961, the Weather Bureau, along with colleagues in the military,
NASA and the private sector, formally undertook the development and operation
of a global weather satellite observing system. Additional polar-orbiting
TIROS research satellites were launched over the next several years to
test new camera lenses and transmission techniques. TIROS-8, launched in
late 1963 successfully tested an automatic picture transmission (APT) system
which continually relayed imagery to ground receiving stations anywhere
in the world along the satellite's track.
The TIROS-9 satellite, launched into sun-synchronous, near polar-orbit
in 1965, gave the first complete daily coverage of the entire sun-illuminated
portion of the earth. Launched just a few months earlier, the NIMBUS-1
satellite carried an infrared sensor which permitted the first-ever nighttime
pictures from space. The early TIROS spacecraft and NIMBUS-1 proved the
feasibility of an operational system of weather-watching satellites. On
July 1, 1965, TIROS-10, the first wholly operational meteorological satellite
was launched. The more recent history of the Department of Commerce's weather
satellite program will be discussed in later sections describing the activities
of ESSA and NOAA.
Central Radio Propagation Laboratory
The third major component of the newly-created ESSA was the Central
Radio Propagation Laboratory. This Laboratory, located in Boulder, Colorado,
was established in 1946 as the central Federal agency for obtaining and
disseminating information on the propagation of electromagnetic waves,
on the electromagnetic properties of man's environment, on the nature of
electromagnetic noise and interference, and on methods for more efficient
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of the electromagnetic spectrum for telecommunication purposes. The
Ionospheric Telecommunications Division of the Laboratory played a key
role in the discovery of new models of electromagnetic propagation by the
ionosphere and the practical use of such new telecommunication techniques.
The Division was responsible for publishing a regular "radio weather" forecast
series which predicted the best frequencies for ionospheric radio transmissions.
The Tropospheric Telecommunications Division conducted similar research
related to telecommunication activities within the area from the earth's
surface up to 5 or 10 miles. Research included the effects of weather and
terrain on television and microwave frequencies as well as investigations
of the propagation of infrared, optical and radio frequencies.
The Space Environment Forecasting Division focused its research on the
effects of solar disturbances and how to predict them. This effort was
a natural outgrowth of research on techniques to measure changes in the
ionosphere which affect radio transmissions. Since most of such changes
are the result of solar-associated disturbances, many of the same techniques
could be used to study the nature of the disturbances themselves. Such
investigations were critical to support for manned and unmanned space flights.
The Aeronomy Division of CRPL conducted research aimed at understanding
the fundamental physical processes controlling the ionosphere. Focusing
on gaining a detailed knowledge of the characteristics of the upper atmosphere,
the activities of the Division were critical to supporting the Nation's
increased space and satellite programs.
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NOAA -- AT IT'S CREATION
The Environmental Science Services Administration
Within its first year of existence, ESSA had made significant progress
toward its task to describe, understand and predict the state of the oceans,
the state of the upper and lower atmosphere, and the size and shape of
the earth.  Building on the capabilities of the Central Radio Propagation
Laboratory, the Institutes for Environmental Research were established
in Boulder, Colorado. This represented a revolutionary organizational concept
which would continue throughout the history of ESSA and NOAA -- the concept
of unified mission support for the Agency's program objectives through
environmental science and technology development. In all, four Institutes
In 1967, the institutes became the ESSA Research Laboratories. The Laboratories,
eleven in all, plus one unit still identified as an Institute for Telecommunications
Science, and the Research Flight Facility, were the result of a re-structuring
designed to more precisely reflect the scope and mission of the individual
elements. The eleven laboratories included:
The National Weather Records Center (established in Asheville, North
Carolina in 1951) gave rise to an Environmental Data Center complex with
the transfer of the Geodetic and Seismology Data Centers [Ed. Coast and Geodetic Survey Seismology Data Centers]
to Asheville in 1966. In many ways, this move and the reorganization of
the ESSA laboratories reflect the history of the entire organization during
its five years of independent existence. It was a period of "settling in"
and "settling down" to the task of addressing an enormous mission -- understanding
the global environment.
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Much of the excitement associated with that job during the ESSA years
involved the beginnings of the operational weather satellite program. During
the early years of meteorological satellites, scientists recognized the
potential value of a geostationary orbit to provide
of weather systems over the U.S. It wasn't until the mid-60's, however,
that sufficient rocket power became available to achieve a geostationary
orbit. 1966 saw the launch of a NASA operational experiment with early
imaging and weather broadcast systems aboard. Joint NASA/ESSA (later NOAA)
experimentation would continue until 1974 and 1975 when geostationary weather
satellites became an operational reality with the launch of NASA's Synchronous
Meteorological Satellites (SMS) 1, 2. These satellites were the prototype
for what is now NOAA's Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellites
(GOES) -- the so-called "hurricane-tracking" satellites whose images are
so familiar to all of us who watch the nightly news on television.
Now let's take a look at the other programs and organizations which
were combined with ESSA in 1980 to create the National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Bureau of Commercial Fisheries
Like the Weather Bureau and the Coast and Geodetic Survey, the Bureau
of Commercial Fisheries (BCF) has historical roots that date back to the
19th century. In 1871, President Ulysses S. Grant signed legislation establishing
a one-man, U.S. Fish Commission charged to:
ascertain whether any and what diminution of food fishes of the coasts
and lakes of the United States has taken place; and, if so, to what causes
the same is due; and also whether any and what protective, prohibitory
or precautionary measures should be adopted... (and) report upon the same
Thus began the Federal interest in and commitment to the conservation
of living marine resources; a commitment and a responsibility that is largely
the same today.
In 1903 the Fish Commission became the Bureau of Fisheries in the new
Department of Commerce and Labor. The Bureau remained in Commerce until
1939 when it was transferred to the Interior Department. One year later,
the Bureau was consolidated with the Department of Agriculture's Bureau
of Biological Survey and became the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. With
passage of the Fish and Wildlife Act of 1956, the Bureau of Commercial
Fisheries (BCF) became a separate Bureau in the Department of Interior.
The organization created by this law remained largely unchanged until 1970
when, as part of Reorganization Plan No. 4, most of its functions were
transferred to NOAA and the Bureau's Pesticides Laboratory in Gulf Breeze,
Florida was transferred to the new Environmental Protection Agency.
Like its predecessor organizations, the BCF brought to NOAA a responsibility
for developing and managing programs to define and identify solutions to
the problems of commercial fisheries. It is important to note that this
was essentially a scientific responsibility designed to foster conservation
-- the wise use of marine resources. Specific management and conservation
responsibilities would not be given to what is now the National Marine
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Fisheries Service until the mid-1970's. Thus what the Bureau brought
to the new Agency was largely a program of biological research designed
to provide an understanding of the nature, size, behavior, and, most importantly,
maximum sustainable yield of commercially-important fish stocks and marine
mammals off the coasts of the U.S. Complementing this fundamental research
program were Bureau activities designed to assist industry, ensure consumer
safety and support U.S. responsibilities under international treaties and
agreements. The Bureau conducted resource assessment surveys; maintained
a national program of fishery statistics and market news; supported gear
development and evaluation studies as well as fishery development research
designed to find alternative uses for underutilized fish and shellfish
populations; conducted a voluntary grading and inspection program -- paid
for by the processor; and maintained a staff of marketing specialists and
economists who provided services to Federal and state Governments, industry,
and consumer organizations. All of these responsibilities and activities
came to NOAA and, in large part, are still part of the Agency's marine
The Bureau of Commercial Fisheries also brought to the new Agency a
number of specialized facilities across the country. These included five
regional offices in Seattle, Washington; St. Petersburg, Florida; Gloucester,
Massachusettes; Juneau, Alaska; and Terminal Island, California; nearly
30 major laboratories and research centers and nearly 50 smaller installations
and offices such as statistics and market news offices. The new Agency's
fleet of Coast and Geodetic Survey ships was also significantly expanded
by the addition of twenty-five research vessels ranging from 40-footers
to the 214-foot
. Many of these vessels are still
in operation today.
Marine Sport Fishery Program
The creation of NOAA also involved another element of the Department
of Interior's fishery programs -- the marine game fish research program
of the Bureau of Sport Fisheries and Wildlife. Authorized in 1959 by P.L.
86-359, "A Study of Migratory Game Fish", this program represented much
of the Interior Department's marine and estuarine research. Like the Bureau
of Commercial Fisheries, this program brought significant scientific capability
to the new Agency. The Sandy Hook Marine Laboratory, built in 1960, represented
a cadre of fishery biologists, conducting research primarily focused on
the dependence of certain marine species on the near-shore and estuarine
environments. At the time NOAA was created, the Sandy Hook Laboratory had
recently begun a research program on the effect of waste disposal on the
marine environment -- particularly in the New York Bight, and related investigations
of marine fish diseases and their relationship to sewage and other waste
The Tiburon Marine Laboratory was established in 1962 in several buildings
at the former naval
base at Tiburon, California. In collaboration with
scientists from the Sandy Hook Laboratory, researchers at Tiburon were
early pioneers in the use of airborne infrared sensing devices to measure
sea surface temperature -- an oceanographic parameter relevant to productivity
and often used to locate fish stocks. Most of the Tiburon Laboratory's
activities were focused on research on the ecology of shore and reef fish
and studies of billfish stocks (e.g., marlin and sailfish), including a
major tagging program conducted in cooperation with the Mexican Government
and industry associations.
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The third facility which this consolidation brought to the new NOAA
was the Narragansett Marine Game Fish Laboratory in Rhode Island. Established
in 1966, this Laboratory conducted research on big game sharks, the differentiation
of races among game fish, experimental aquaculture, and marine game fish
statistics. At the time of Reorganization Plan No. 4, scientists at the
Narragansett facility were planning to begin broad studies of the impact
of environmental factors like currents, temperature and plankton abundance
on Atlantic coast game fish and to establish the Laboratory as a center
for estuarine research in cold waters.
While a permanent facility was still under construction at the time
of the transfer, scientists at the Eastern Gulf Marine Laboratory's temporary
facilities in Panama City, Florida were conducting research on estuarine
and onshore ecology in the South Atlantic and Gulf regions.
Office of Sea Grant Programs
In October 1966, the President signed P.L. 89-688, the National Sea
Grant Colleges and Programs Act to:
Responsibility for the program was assigned to the National Science
Foundation which provided support for two types of Sea Grant activities.
"Institutional support" was provided to major institutions engaged in comprehensive
marine resource programs, including research, education, and advisory services.
By 1970, nine universities had received Sea Grant Institutional support:
Hawaii, Miami, Michigan, Oregon State, Rhode Island, Texas A&M, Washington,
Wisconsin, and the University of Southern California. One of the most unique
characteristics of the programs at these institutions was their multidisciplinary,
interdepartmental approach to solving ocean and coastal resource problems.
In addition, Sea Grant provided "project support" for individual research
efforts in marine resource development at colleges and universities across
Sea Grant support was contingent upon matching funds from non-Federal
sources and this aspect of the program had, by 1970, helped entrain over
30 industries and a half dozen state Governments to participate in ocean
science and technology programs.
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As the name implies, the Sea Grant program was, in many ways, designed
to provide an ocean resource counterpart to the Land Grant College Program.
The most obvious analog was the establishment of marine extension services
similar to long-established agriculture extension services. Also like the
Land Grant Program, Sea Grant was actively involved in the support of undergraduate
and graduate education of engineers and the training of hundreds of technicians
at the two-year college level.
At the time of NOAA's creation, the Sea Grant program was undergoing
a period of rapid growth. Funding for the program during its first four
years had grown from $5 million in 1968 (although authorized in 1966, specific
funding for the program was not provided until 1968) to $9 million in 1970
and the President's budget for fiscal year 1971 proposed a budget of $13
United States Lake Survey
The incorporation of the United States Lake Survey into NOAA brought
another organization with a long and colorful history to the Department
of Commerce. This Survey's activities began on March 31, 1841 when, in
an effort to support westward expansion, an Act of Congress provided $15,000
for a "hydrographical survey of the Northern and Northwestern Lakes." To
do the job, the Lake Survey was created within the U.S. Army Topographical
Engineers which was later merged into the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Like the Commerce Department's Coast and Geodetic Survey, the Lake Survey
had responsibility for the preparation and publication of nautical charts
and other navigational aids.
The Survey, housed in Detroit, Michigan, published its first charts
in 1852 -- covering all of Lake Erie. By 1882, the Survey had completed the
original Congressional mandate, producing some 76 charts. The original
Survey was then disbanded. By 1901, however, it became clear that the original
survey and charting products required revision. For example, since the
deepest draft vessels used in the Great Lakes in the mid-late 1800's drew
only 12 feet of water, the Survey's charts only showed depths of 18 feet
or less! By the early 1960's, deeper draft vessels were in use which required
additional information on waters of the Great Lakes. So, the Lake Survey
was reconstituted and its mission expanded to include responsibility for
lakes and navigable waters of the New York State Barge Canal System, Lake
Champlain and the Minnesota-Ontario Border Lakes. In addition to traditional
survey, charting, and navigation information responsibilities, the Lake
Survey also brought to NOAA responsibilities for studies on lake levels
and associated river flow. Originally initiated to support navigational
needs, the stream measuring stations and Survey's water level and precipitation
gages enabled engineers to make six-month forecasts of lake levels and
build a data base dating back to 1860 which supported the needs of public
planning agencies and private sector interests like construction firms.
The Survey greatly expanded this effort in 1962 with the establishment
of the Great Lakes Research Center. At the time of NOAA's creation, the
Center was conducting strong programs in
motion, including tides, currents, waves, seiches, and shore processes,
like sedimentation) and
(water quality, water quantity
and ice and snow conditions).
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This work was supported by a suite of facilities including: the Great
Lakes Regional Data Center, a Technical Library and Instrument Office,
an Ice and Snow Laboratory, a Chemical Laboratory, and a Sedimentation
Laboratory. The Lake Survey brought all of these capabilities into the
National Data Buoy Project
In December 1967, the United States Coast Guard established the National
Data Buoy Development Project to develop a national system of automatic
ocean buoys to gather oceanic and atmospheric data. By the 1960's, scientists
had recognized the need for more detailed information on environmental
conditions over vast marine areas which remained largely uncovered except
for occasional observations from ships or aircraft of opportunity, oceanographic
research expeditions, or the few existing ocean station vessels. As a result,
a number of Federal agencies and universities began programs to develop
and implement networks of buoys which could routinely and automatically
report environmental conditions like temperature, wind speed and direction,
etc. Unfortunately, these disparate efforts were largely designed to meet
individual agency or research needs.
In 1966, the Panel on Ocean Engineering of the Interagency Committee
on Oceanography, convened a group of Federal agency representatives to
address the problems and possibilities associated with automated data buoy
networks. This group recommended a
system of ocean data
buoys and the Committee asked the Coast Guard to conduct a feasibility
study. After ten months of work, the study report made the following conclusions:
The National Council for Marine Resources and Engineering Development
(established by the same law which created the Stratton Commission) took
these conclusions seriously and in November 1967, asked the Coast Guard
to accept lead agency responsibility for the research, development, testing
and evaluation required to support future decisions on national data buoy
systems. The National Data Buoy Development Project was established to
do the job. The Project Office drew on existing capabilities in a number
of disciplines from oceanography to communications and began an effort
to develop a single, national system capable of providing key observations
required to describe conditions in the marine environment (including the
Great Lakes). Reorganization Plan No. 4 brought this responsibility and
challenge to NOAA.
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National Oceanographic Data Center
The National Oceanographic Data Center (NODC) was established by the
Department of the Navy in 1960 to aggregate and disseminate the oceanographic
data being collected by all Federal agencies. Although established by the
Navy, NODC was actually sponsored by the ten agencies with interests in
the marine environment: the Atomic Energy Commission; Bureau of Commercial
Fisheries; Coast Guard; Coastal Engineering Research Center; the Department
of the Navy; ESSA; the Federal Water Quality Administration; the Geological
Survey; the Department of Health, Education and Welfare; and the National
Science Foundation. Policy and technical direction for NODC was provided
by an advisory body of representatives from those agencies and the National
Academy of Sciences. Established to provide a mechanism to process, exchange
and store global data from Government, industry, academic and research
organizations, NODC brought to NOAA the world's largest useable collection
of oceanographic data. Using data received from national and international
sources (including a network of liaison offices in key regions of the country),
NODC provided a variety of services including: data processing; data reproduction;
analyses and preparation of statistical summaries; and data record evaluation
on a cost reimbursable basis. The addition of NODC to the ESSA Environmental
Data Centers provided the new NOAA with the key components of what would
become the Nation's premier environmental data service.
National Oceanographic Instrumentation Center
Like NODC, the National Oceanographic Instrumentation Center was originally
a part of the Department of the Navy. Located in Washington, D.C. the office
was established to provide a central Federal service for the calibration
and testing of oceanographic instruments. The Instrumentation Center collaborated
closely with NODC and the National Bureau of Standards to ensure adequate
technique and reference standards for oceanographic instrumentation. At
the time of NOAA's creation, the Center was responsible for a wide variety
of oceanographic instrument development work including:
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Marine Minerals Technology Center
During the late fifties and sixties, scientists (both in industry and
Government) had begun to seriously investigate the possibility of funding
ocean-based alternatives to land-based sources of strategic minerals. Dry-land
deposits of such minerals were already showing signs of depletion. Scientists
were aware that the seafloor contained potentially recoverable deposits
of materials rich in such strategic minerals as nickel, cobalt, copper,
manganese, gold, tin, platinum, iron, titanium, and chromium. Of particular
interest at the time of NOAA's creation were deep seabed deposits of manganese
nodules which would, during the seventies and eighties, become the center
of substantial debate both in the U.S. Congress and in the international
Law of the Sea Treaty negotiations.
By 1970, industry had already adapted land extraction techniques to
develop ocean minerals like oil, gas, sulfur, sand, and gravel valued at
over $2 billion. Industry was already, similarly, involved in commercial
dredging of oyster shells and the extraction of chemicals and salts from
sea water. Many of these activities, and the anticipated open ocean mining
associated with recovery of deposits like manganese nodules, carried potentially
significant environmental impacts (
, oil spills, sedimentation,
and increased turbidity which could disrupt biological productivity).
The Department of Interior had responded to the challenge of increased
ocean mineral development by establishing the Marine Minerals Technology
Center in Tiburon, California. The Center, part of the Bureau of Mines,
had two principal objectives:
By the time of NOAA's creation, the Center was already conducting a
number of cooperative programs with embryonic ocean mining industry groups
to evaluate a number of specific new mining techniques including new drilling
technologies. At the same time, the Center's marine resource investigations
were beginning to build the scientific and environmental impact knowledge
base on which future legislative and regulatory actions would be based
-- including the issuance of exploration licenses for manganese nodule
mining which has been a NOAA responsibility since 1980.
With these rich, diverse and extensive capabilities now in place, this
new agency called NOAA was ready to address the challenges expressed in
President Nixon's reorganization statement including the exercise of "leadership
in developing a national oceanic and atmospheric program of research and
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NOAA - THE FIRST TEN YEARS
The first ten years of NOAA's existence was a period of substantial
growth and expansion -- a period which confirmed both the need for and
benefits of an agency designed to improve our understanding of the earth
system and its ocean and coastal resources. The Seventies saw the addition
of numerous new programmatic responsibilities, largely the result of new
legislation, which identified NOAA's role in national efforts to protect
and conserve our environmental resources. These were years of intense environmental
activity and NOAA's responsibilities were, in many cases, both obvious
A look at the Agency's budget over the first ten years provides a sense
of the magnitude of the change this period brought. In 1971, NOAA activities
were funded at nearly $300 million. By 1981, the Agency was fulfilling
responsibilities requiring a close to $900 million budget. The Nation and
NOAA were investing in a future that demanded a better understanding of
how the oceanic and atmospheric systems defined the nature of the environment
in which we lived and the resources on which we depended. The following
chapter will highlight some of the more significant events in the first
ten years of NOAA's life.
The primary task for NOAA's first Administrator was, of course, to design
a management structure which would effectively coalesce the numerous, disparate
programs and offices which were to make up this new Agency. By January
1971, an interim organization had been established around the following
six major programmatic components.
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In addition, the Administrator was supported by five line offices responsible
Thus organized, NOAA was ready to begin the challenges facing a new
Agency. As you might expect, this new Agency, with its numerous specific
responsibilities, would undergo several reorganizations during its formative
years. In some cases, organizational changes were associated with the enactment
of legislation (e.g., the creation of a line organization for Coastal Zone Management); in other cases, organizational moves were made to combine
related activities and improve management efficiency. Each of these reorganizations
reflected NOAA's growth and maturity as an Agency. As our understanding
of the earth system and its resources has grown, we have refined the management
structure for the agency's related science and service responsibilities.
Now let's look at some of the more significant moments, in NOAA's early
The fishery resource activities of NOAA, and the Nation, took a dramatic
turn in 1976. Often referred to as
most significant piece of
fishery legislation in the history of the United States, the Magnuson Fishery
Conservation and Management Act (MFCMA) established an innovative new management
regime for U.S. commercial and recreational fish stocks within 200 miles
of our coast.  Congress enacted the MFCMA in response to declines in
U.S. commercial landings and dramatic increases in foreign catches off
our coasts -- an area which supports 15-20% of the world's traditionally
harvested fish resources.  The MFCMA established an exclusive U.S.
Fishery Conservation Zone (between 3 and 200 miles off our coast) and charged
the Department of Commerce/NOAA with responsibility for implementing the
unique, new management system authorized by the Act. Regional Fishery Management
Councils were established to prepare management plans for each major fishery.
These management plans must take into account social and economic as well
as biological and environmental factors affecting each fishery; and identify
specific management objectives and the management measures required to
achieve those objectives. The MFCMA charged the Secretary of Commerce,
acting through NOAA, with responsibility for approving and implementing
these Fishery Management Plans (FMP's) and, along with the Coast Guard,
enforcing the associated fishery regulations. Thus, in 1976, NOAA and the
Department of Commerce acquired specific
in addition to the more traditional research and information collection
activities required to provide the scientific underpinning for effective
industry and management decisions. This legislation, and the dramatic new
responsibilities it brought, have dominated the nature and focus of most
of NOAA's fisheries programs.
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In addition to "management and conservation," the MFCMA carries with
it a charge to enhance the "development" of domestic U.S. fisheries. In
many cases, this involves the increased utilization of species not traditionally
harvested by U.S. fishermen. NOAA responded to this charge in the late
1970's by significantly enhancing their work with other Federal agencies,
state and local governments, industry and consumers to develop such "underutilized"
species. This effort has involved, among other activities:
Since the late seventies, NOAA and the Department of Commerce have remained
committed to an appropriate partnership with industry and the States in
the development of U.S. fishery resources.
The era of heightened environmental
awareness which characterized the 1970's brought with it a greater understanding
of the critical role that coastal and estuarine habitats play in the life
support system of many commercially important fish stocks.
Accordingly, the seventies saw the establishment of a strong "habitat
protection" program in NOAA. The nature of NOAA's activities in this area
has largely been determined by statutory requirements for NOAA analyses
and comments on the environmental impacts of federal activities including:
Environmental Impact Statement requirements of the National Environmental
Protection Act, construction projects by the Army Corps of Engineers; dredge
and fill permits associated with coastal development; and waste discharge
permits under the Clean Water Act. Fulfilling these requirements involved
the development and maintenance of strong NOAA research programs on the
habitat requirements of important species and consistent monitoring of
the quality of the marine environment.
Marine Mammals and Endangered Species
With enactment of the Marine Mammal Protection Act (1972) and the Endangered
Species Act (1973), NOAA was given specific responsibility for the conservation
of marine mammals and endangered marine species. The Marine Mammal Protection
Act charged the Department of Commerce/NOAA with federal functions required
to ensure the protection of marine mammals and imposed a U.S. moratorium
on the taking and importation of marine mammals. The NOAA Administrator
serves as the U.S. representative to the International Whaling Commission
and over the years has made significant progress in developing and implementing
substantial reductions in worldwide whaling activities.
- 24 -
The Endangered Species Act charged the Departments of Commerce/NOAA
and Interior with responsibility for the conservation, protection and propagation
of species and subspecies of fish and wildlife that are presently threatened
with extinction, which are endangered, or are likely to become endangered.
With enactment of the legislation in 1973, NOAA became responsible for
species of mammals and fish, reptiles, and invertebrates.
Administering these responsibilities required the development and implementation
of both: control measures (e.g., surveillance to stop illegal imports and
exports of marine mammals and endangered species and regulation of the
incidental take of marine mammals like porpoises in commercial fisheries);
and strong supporting research programs. Since 1973, significant activities
in this area have included:
Ocean and Coastal Resources
In 1972, Congress recognized a pressing need to conserve the Nation's
coastal lands and shorelines and passed the Coastal Zone Management Act
(CZMA). With the President's signature, this Act established a significant
partnership between the Federal Government and coastal states -- a partnership
which recognized joint responsibility for a program to ensure the wise
use of coastal resources.
Responsibility for the Federal share of this partnership was assigned
to NOAA. Under the CZMA, states were encouraged to develop individual management
plans for their coastal zones. The Federal Government, through NOAA, was
to establish general guidelines for such plans and provide financial and
technical assistance to the states as they developed and began implementing
the resulting coastal zone management programs. Planning grants were provided
to states through 1979. Once a plan was approved, the Act authorized NOAA
to provide direct financial support, also in the form of grants, to assist
states in administering their new programs. By 1979, all thirty coastal
states and four of the five eligible territories had participated in the
program and coastal programs in 19 states, covering 68% of the Nation's
shoreline, had received Federal approval.  By 1986, ninety percent
of the U.S. coastline would be covered by approved Federal plans in twenty-nine
states and territories. Federal responsibility to encourage participation
in this voluntary program has been successfully pursued.
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In addition to direct financial assistance, NOAA has administered an
additional incentive for state participation in the program. Known as the
"consistency provisions," Section 312 of the Act requires that, once a
program is approved, Federal actions directly affecting a state's coastal
zone must be consistent with that approved program. NOAA remains responsible
for continuous monitoring and evaluation of state programs to ensure their
conformance to the CZMA and, therefore, the ability of the states to require
The 1976 amendments to the CZMA established a ten-year, $1.2 billion
Coastal Energy Impact Program to provide financial assistance to coastal
states and communities affected by coastal energy activity. These amendments
recognized the fact that the coastal zone provides an attractive site for
much of the Nation's energy activities, including power plants, refineries
and offshore oil and gas development. NOAA was responsible for administering
this program which was designed to help states with approved coastal zone
programs deal with the economic, social and environmental costs associated
with energy development.
Section 315 of the CZMA authorized NOAA to participate with states in
a 50/50 cost-sharing program to acquire and manage special, relatively
undisturbed estuarine areas set aside to serve as natural field laboratories
in which to study and gather data on the natural and human processes occurring
within those critical environments. NOAA began immediately to establish
a nationwide network of biologically and geographically unique estuarine
"reserves" and, by September 30, 1980, nine such sanctuaries were already
in operation in: Oregon, Georgia, Hawaii, Ohio, Florida, California, Washington,
and Rhode Island.
A similar program to protect unique areas of ocean waters was authorized
by Title III of the Marine Protection, Research and Sanctuaries Act (MPRSA)
enacted in 1972. This legislation authorizes the Secretary of Commerce,
with the approval of the President, to designate ocean waters as marine
sanctuaries for the purpose of preserving or restoring their conservation,
recreational, ecological or esthetic value. The first such marine sanctuary,
was designated in 1975 in waters off Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, to
protect the wreckage of the Civil War iron-clad ship
As of September 30, 1980, two other sanctuaries had been designated:
Throughout the seventies and eighties, NOAA has continued to implement
the marine sanctuaries program to provide long-term, comprehensive management
for these special marine areas focused on resource protection, public education
and research/assessment aimed at improving marine resources management
decisions and encouraging maximum public use consistent with resource protection.
- 26 -
In the area of marine pollution, Congress enacted two principal pieces
of legislation in the 1970's which guided NOAA activities in this area.
The 1972 Marine Protection, Research, and Sanctuaries Act, in addition
to establishing the marine sanctuaries program, charged NOAA with monitoring
and research on ocean dumping activities as well as research on the possible,
long-range effects of pollution, overfishing, and man-induced changes in
The Ocean Pollution Research and Development and Monitoring Planning
Act of 1978 (known as the Ocean Pollution Planning Act) recognized the
need for a national program to investigate the fates and effects of pollutants
on the marine environment and charged NOAA with lead-agency responsibility
for developing and implementing a continuous five-year plan for such a
program. Throughout the seventies and into the eighties, NOAA responded
to these charges with a number of activities including:
Research and Development
Throughout the seventies NOAA strengthened its research and development
programs aimed at improving our understanding of the oceanic and atmospheric
environments and applying that knowledge to the solution of environmental
problems. Highlights of activities in the seventies (in addition to the
marine pollution research described previously) include:
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One of the most exciting aspects of NOAA's research in the seventies
involved undersea science. NOAA support for undersea research to address
the Agency's scientific responsibilities began in 1971 with the establishment
of the Manned Undersea Science and Technology Office (MUS&T). From
1971 to 1980, MUS&T conducted a program of support for submersible
and habitat-based research designed to address three principal objectives
(MUS&T Annual Report, FY 1972):
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Pursuant to this third objective, and with a fiscal year 1976 appropriation
of $1.5 million, MUS&T concentrated its efforts on completion of a
feasibility study and conceptual design for OCEANLAB - a proposed large,
mobile saturation submersible that could operate autonomously in a variety
of underwater environments. The potentially high cost of such a multi-purpose
facility, however, forced MUS&T, in consultation with the Department
of Commerce, the Office of Management and Budget, Congress and the undersea
research community, to re-evaluate the OCEANLAB concept. Pursuant to this
1978 review, which included an analysis of the scientific needs and requirements
of the research community conducted by the National Research Council's
Ocean Science Board, NOAA re-directed the MUS&T/OCEANLAB program. Instead
of constructing a single, government-owned laboratory, NOAA's program,
in cooperation with university-based research institutions, was to increase
the use of existing habitats and to encourage scientists to use additional
underwater tools and techniques such as saturation diving, submersibles
and remotely operated vehicles. The policy guidance for this new direction
was described in a 1980 document entitled "The Undersea Research Program
of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration." 
In 1977, NOAA established the first regional underwater research facility.
The underwater habitat, HYDROLAB, located in St. Croix, which had recently
been acquired and refurbished by NOAA from the Perry Foundation, became
the focal point of undersea research in the Caribbean. By the 1980's, NOAA
was supporting a three-tiered undersea research program composed of:
Operational Weather Satellites
NOAA's operational meteorological satellite program became a reality
during the 1970's. The geostationary satellite experiment begun in 1966
was established as a continuous, operational program in 1974/75 with the
launch of NASA's Synchronous Meteorological Satellites (SMS) 1 and 2; these
satellites were the prototype for NOAA's Geostationary Operational Environmental
Satellites (GOES). GOES-1, the first NOAA-owned and operated geostationary
satellite, was launched on October 16, 1975. The first NOAA-funded satellite
in the NOAA system of polar-orbiting environmental satellites was launched
in June 1979. Throughout the seventies NOAA began to establish itself as
a world leader in application of space-based observing systems to
environmental forecasting and related services.
- 29 -
In November 1979, a Presidential directive assigned NOAA with responsibility
for the development of an operational earth remote sensing program. LANDSAT,
an experimental earth sensing satellite system, was initiated in 1972 with
the launch of LANDSAT-1 by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration
as a research and development program. NOAA was directed to assume operational
responsibility for the system beginning in 1983. With enactment of the
Land Remote Sensing Commercialization Act of 1984, the Secretary of Commerce
was authorized to commercialize the LANDSAT system and, in September 1985,
a contract was signed with the Earth Observation Satellite Company (EOSAT).
EOSAT's original objective is to establish LANDSAT as a commercially unable [Ed. viable]
civil remote sensing industry in ten years. EOSAT took responsibility for
the operation of the current LANDSAT system October 18, 1985.
All of these examples illustrate the breadth and excitement of NOAA's
experience during the seventies. This experience was preparing the new
organization to emerge as a mature, cohesive agency focused on the science
and services associated with predicting and responding to changes in the
global earth environment.
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NOAA IN THE EIGHTIES
The 1980's have, similarly, been an exciting time for NOAA. Along with
continuing commitment to control Federal spending, NOAA has remained committed
to serving the Nation. The agency organization chart for NOAA in 1980 reflected
many of the changes in responsibility and programmatic responsibilities
wrought during the seventies. Five principal line offices had been created
(largely as the result of an agency reorganization in 1977) to address
major elements of the Agency's responsibilities:
A new Office of Ocean Minerals and Energy, charged with implementing
new statutory responsibilities for the regulation of deep seabed mining
and ocean thermal energy conversion systems, was established in 1980. NOAA
responsibilities to coordinate and develop five-year plans for marine pollution
and climate activities throughout the Federal Government were carried out
by the National Marine Pollution Program Office and the National Climate
Program Office both housed within an Office of Policy and Planning which
reported directly to the Administrator.
NOAA entered the eighties with a number of unique physical assets including:
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Thus, NOAA entered the 1980's well-prepared to start a second decade
committed to fulfilling it's numerous statutory responsibilities including
those enacted during the height of the environmental movement in the 1970's;
and exercising the mandate of Reorganization Plan No. 4 as the Nation's
lead oceanic and atmospheric science and service agency.
During the 1980's, NOAA leadership has worked to more clearly focus
the agency's attention on the highest priority Federal responsibilities
in environmental science and services. Agency management was refined with
an eye towards simplicity and the efficient management and direction of
related programs. For example, the National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information
Service was created to consolidate NOAA's satellite and data management
activities. Similarly, NOAA's ocean and coastal resource management activities
were combined with mapping, charting and geodetic programs into the National
Ocean Service. The old Office of Research and Development has evolved into
the Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research which now manages major
research efforts to support improvements to NOAA's service arms,
the agency's responsibilities for leadership in science to improve our
understanding of the oceanic and atmospheric components of the global earth
system. Throughout the 1980's, management and programmatic decisions have all focused on successful fulfillment of
NOAA's primary mission and ultimate goal -- the prediction of environmental
changes on a wide range of time and space scales in order to protect life
and property and provide industry and government decision-makers with a
reliable base of scientific information. The following sections summarize
some of the highlights of this dynamic agency's recent history.
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Since the National Weather Service probably touches the lives of more
of our citizens each day than any other element of NOAA, or Commerce for
that matter, let's start there. The 1980's have seen NOAA and the Department
of Commerce embark on a billion dollar effort to modernize the National
Weather Service. The modernization is largely founded on the implementation
of three new technologies referred to as NEXRAD, AWIPS and ASOS. These
programs will provide tomorrow's forecasters with advanced tools for observing
and forecasting small-scale, fast breaking weather events like tornadoes,
severe thunderstorms, and flash floods -- weather events which annually
claim an average of 60 lives and hundreds of millions of dollars in damage
in this country alone.
The weather radar is a valuable instrument for detecting and monitoring
the movement and development of severe storms. It is a byproduct of the
radar technology developed during the second World War in the 1940's. But
the units in today's national radar network are limited in that they cannot
routinely detect weather phenomena indicative of tornado development. Nor
can they detect accurate rainfall amounts or precise areal coverage of
rainfall. Because of their age and limited spare parts, these radar units
are difficult to service.
Formal efforts to procure a national next generation radar -- NEXRAD
-- system began in fiscal year 1983 with funding for technology validation.
The Weather Service hopes to begin deployment of the radar by 1990. It
will incorporate technology that is expected to advance tornado warnings
from one to two minutes to more than 20 minutes. NEXRAD also will provide
valuable precipitation rate and areal information to improve flood and
flash-flood warnings and water management forecast services when used with
computer models of drainage basins.
A key feature of the NEXRAD radars is the application of the so-called
"Doppler Effect," named after the Austrian physicist Johann Christian Doppler
who determined that moving objects shift the frequency of sound, light
or radio waves that they emit or reflect. An example of a Doppler frequency
shift is not real, only apparent, as in the case of a blaring automobile
horn that is first high and then drops in pitch as the car approaches and
then passes an observer.
In its application to weather radar, the "Doppler Effect" allows the
operator to "see" a storm's wind-carried rain that is moving away from
or towards the radar. This unprecedented view of winds gives a direct and
clear indication of wind rotation and hence tornadoes in their development
Forecasters will gain a new perspective of dangerous storms by viewing
them over their entire life cycle with NEXRAD radar units and the higher
resolution sensors carried by the new GOES-NEXT satellites. Thus, they
will be able to pinpoint the severe weather events more precisely from
space, and they will have a better idea of what is going on inside them.
Before 1978, forecasters at National Weather Service field offices communicated
with the National centers and each other only via slow-speed teletype and
facsimile circuits. Gathered information was prepared in the
- 33 -
forecast offices on clear acetate charts which separately depicted the
various components of weather such as barometric pressure, wind, and rainfall.
These charts would be overlaid on a light table so the forecasters could
visually assimilate the "big picture" upon which to base their forecasts.
Today, the forecasters rely on a computer-based system called Automation
of Field Operations Services (AFOS) for communications and data display.
AFOS utilizes high-speed computers, databases supported by mini-computers
at each field office, and the manipulation of data displayed on screens.
This system is outdated, however, and will be obsolete by 1990. It lacks
the capability to integrate the large-scale guidance material, supplied
by the National Centers, with radar and satellite imagery for the local
forecaster's area of responsibility. This limitation of the AFOS system
is becoming even more severe as the quantity and quality of the fine-scale
data continue to increase and improved methods of processing, displaying
and analyzing these data continue to emerge. According to Richard Hallgren,
Director of the Weather Service, "a keystone of the modernization effort
at the National Weather Service is the Advanced Weather Interactive Processing
System for the 1990's, otherwise known as AWIPS-90, which will replace
the AFOS system."
AWIPS will provide weather forecasters at field offices and the National
Centers with the capability to access, overlay, and interactively process
meteorological and hydrological guidance products and data, including Doppler
radar and new satellite imagery.
Providing substantial support for the evolution of AWIPS was a NOAA research
effort known as the Program for Regional Observing and Forecasting Services
(PROFS) which began in 1980/81. The mission of PROFS is to improve operational
weather services by testing and transferring advances in science and technology.
PROFS, using the results of atmospheric and systems research, develops
operationally-feasible forecast technology that incorporates observations,
computer processing, and human interaction. PROFS integrates capabilities
into specific systems, then tests and evaluates those systems in forecasting
exercises. PROFS works closely with the three major operational weather
services, NWS, FAA and the U.S. Air Force Air Weather Service. In 1986
PROFS initiated the Denver AWIPS Risk Reduction and Requirements Evaluation
(DARRE) project; by designing, installing and operating an advanced interactive
forecaster workstation at the Denver Weather Service Forecast Office (at
Denver airport), PROFS is providing the National Weather Service with a
test-bed for many of the functional capabilities planned for the AWIPS
Observations describing the current state of the atmosphere and or river
conditions are the basis of severe weather and flood warnings as well as
fair weather forecasts. Daily, the National Weather Service collects a
multitude of such observations from surface and upper-air stations across
the country. Satellites, offshore buoys, aircraft, volunteers aboard seagoing
vessels, and other sources contribute many more thousands of observations.
The collected data is exchanged with most of the other countries in the
world that collect similar observations.
- 34 -
Currently, complete weather observations are collected at 260 National
Weather Service facilities by some 1,200 people who contribute at least
part of their time to this effort. Scheduled observations routinely absorb
a significant amount of staff time; but the workload increases dramatically
during severe weather, just at a time when the observer needs to devote
more time to the preparation and dissemination of warnings and special
The goal of the Automated Surface Observation Systems (ASOS) program
(also begun in the early 1980's) is to develop and implement a flexible
and modular unit to monitor the weather automatically. Using modern technology,
these systems, expected to be deployed across the country by the early
1990's, will automatically acquire, process, store, format, and distribute
weather observations like atmospheric pressure, temperature, visibility
A key component of the automated weather observing systems of the
future will likely be the result of a NOAA research program begun in the
mid-1980's to develop a ground-based system to continuously measure vertical
profiles of atmospheric conditions like wind speed and direction, temperature
and humidity. In 1986, NOAA signed a major, multi-million dollar contract
with the Sperry Corporation to build a 30-unit demonstration network of
the first component of such a system -- the Wind Profiler. Once operational
testing of this system is completed in the early 1990's, NOAA expects that
the Wind Profiler could complement (and in some areas, replace) the labor-intensive
weather balloon network and become an integral part of the modernized Weather
In addition to the development of new technologies, the 1980's have
seen significant improvements in weather forecast skills as a result of
advances in computer modeling. Advanced models, developed by NOAA's Geophysical
Fluid Dynamics Laboratory (GFDL) and the Weather Service's National Meteorological
Center (NMC), can now be run on new Class VI supercomputers. A particularly
promising recent development in the area of weather modeling was a GFDL
model which couples atmospheric and oceanic conditions and processes into
a single interactive model designed to simulate and then predict average
weather conditions out to 30 days.
Oceanic and Atmospheric Research
NOAA has also made considerable progress in the related area of climate
research and prediction during the 1980's. Probably the most visible, and
most significant, effort in this area is the international Tropical Ocean-Global
Atmosphere (TOGA) program which officially began in fiscal year 1984. This
program, and predecessor supporting research initiated in the 1970's, is
designed to provide an understanding of the role that the tropical Pacific
Ocean plays in determining climate changes over North America. The principal
focus of the program is the El Nino, an unusually strong warming of equatorial
Pacific waters which, when coupled with an atmospheric phenomenon known
as the Southern Oscillation, (a global-scale see-saw in atmospheric pressure
between Indonesia-North Australia and the Southeast Pacific), can cause
dramatic changes in the earth's climate patterns. The 1982/1983 El Nino-Southern
Oscillation (ENSO) event was the strongest in history and as newspaper
and television reports told us, was responsible for nearly $20 billion
in economic losses worldwide - from flooding in coastal California to droughts
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and Australia. NOAA's scientific foresight and planning enabled the
Agency to track and document the '82/83 event in greater detail than ever
before and establish the foundation for a monitoring network and computer
modeling capability which will allow scientists to recognize the signals
of and eventually predict the phenomenon. High on NOAA's scientific priority
list, the development of such a predictive capability will not only produce
considerable economic savings but, will also be one of the most significant
scientific achievements of modern times.
NOAA's research in the 1980's is also leading the way in the area of
studies on longer-term climate changes and air quality. Building on a strong
history of research in atmospheric chemistry, NOAA took another bold step
forward in 1985 with the initiation of a research program referred to as
Radiatively Important Trace Species (RITS). NOAA had, for years, been a
leader in research on the causes and potential effects of carbon dioxide
on the earth's climate (the so-called "greenhouse warming" problem). In
the early eighties, however, NOAA researchers led the way for the scientific
community by recognizing the fact that there are also other so-called "greenhouse
gases", like methane and the chlorofluorocarbons currently implicated in
the debate over stratospheric ozone depletion, which also appear to be
increasing in the atmosphere. NOAA scientists estimate that the global
greenhouse warming from these gases could be as great as, and
, that expected from carbon dioxide. NOAA was the first to justify the
need to understand the reasons for the increasing abundances of these gases
and develop a capability to predict the potential climatic and chemical
consequences of such changes. The RITS program remains the principal
agency attack on this scientific challenge and environmental problem.
A scientist from NOAA's Aeronomy Laboratory led an Antarctic Ozone Expedition
to McMurdo Base in late 1986 to investigate the Antarctic ozone hole. The
results showed highly elevated abundances of reactive chlorine compounds,
reduced levels of nitrogen oxides, and 40 percent depletion of ozone at
12-20 km altitude. The role of the chlorinated and brominated compounds
now seems somewhat more likely and that of the solar cycle seems less likely.
Since the cause of the ozone hole had not been established with certainty,
NOAA also led a second expedition in 1987 and a NOAA scientist has also
been chosen as mission scientist for an interagency aircraft observation
program to fly through the ozone hole in 1987.
These examples illustrate NOAA's role as the Federal Government's principal
operational climate observing, prediction and information management agency.
These activities characterize NOAA's unique role and contribution to an
evolving national and international scientific program to understand and
predict natural and man-made changes in the global environment. Joining
the other principal U.S. participants in these efforts, NASA and NSF, NOAA
has chosen to focus on the global climate system because changing climate
confronts us with significant economic, health and safety, and national
security implications. Involving activities across the agency, current
NOAA programs in oceanic and atmospheric observations, monitoring, data
processing, research, predictive modeling, and information management represent
a substantial and unique Federal capability and will serve as the foundation
for NOAA's global environmental predictions programs in the 1990's and
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The National Acid Precipitation (Acid Rain) Act of 1980 brought yet
another leadership role for NOAA. NOAA, along with DOE and EPA, co-chairs
the interagency National Acid Precipitation Task Force which oversees the
ten-year research effort to address this serious problem. The Act designated
NOAA as "Director of Research" and specifically assigned the Agency with
research responsibility in three areas:
NOAA scientists have made significant progress in this area and, to
ensure further progress toward solving the acid rain problem, established
a formal NAPAP Research Office in the fall of 1985.
During the 1980's, NOAA continued a variety of research activities designed
to improve our understanding of the marine and Great Lakes environments
in order to promote safety and economy in maritime activities and develop
a sound scientific basis for management decisions associated with the development
and utilization of ocean and Great Lakes waters and their resources. Currently,
these activities include:
Significant advances were made in all three areas during the early eighties
and NOAA remains committed to strong programs in ocean, coastal and Great
Lakes assessment and prediction activities designed to ensure safe, efficient
and cost-effective use of those environments and promote the development
of marine resources and associated industry.
The 1980's brought the National Sea Grant College Program to a significant
stage in its development. The designation of the South Carolina Sea Grant
College Program in
brought to twenty-one the number of academic programs
to achieve that status nationwide. Since its inception in 1966, Sea Grant
has supported the establishment of premier programs in marine science,
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and technology transfer in most of the coastal and Great Lakes states
as well as Guam and Puerto Rico. This network, and more than three hundred
individual institutions which have participated in the program now constitute
this Nation's primary, university-based marine resource program.
The mid 1980's was a special time for the National Undersea Research
Program. In July 1985, the HYDROLAB habitat facility in the U.S. Virgin
Islands was decommissioned and in May 1986, NOAA donated HYDROLAB to the
Smithsonian where it now serves as a permanent museum tribute to the scientists
who contributed to the research conducted in the Nation's oldest, continuously
operated underwater habitat.
The 1980's have also brought significant opportunities for growth and
progress in oceanic science and services. In 1980, Congress enacted two
pieces of legislation which added new regulatory responsibilities to NOAA's
ocean programs. P.L. 96-283, the Deep Seabed Hard Mineral Resources Act,
gave NOAA responsibility for licensing exploration for and, eventually,
permitting commercial recovery of manganese nodules from the deep seabed.
In addition to the development of associated rules and regulations and
the actual processing of applications, NOAA is responsible for Environmental
Impact Statements associated with the issuance of such licenses and permits
and, with the State Department, the negotiation of reciprocal agreements
with other nations likely to conduct commercial mining of manganese nodules
from the seabed.
The late seventies was also a period of interest in alternative energy
sources. One of the alternatives is ocean thermal energy conversion (OTEC) -- a process that uses the heat energy stored in the warm surface waters
of the world's oceans to produce electricity or other energy-intensive
products. P.L. 96-320, the Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion Act of 1980,
gave NOAA lead responsibility for licensing the construction, ownership,
location and commercial operation of OTEC plants.
When President Reagan proclaimed a 200-mile Exclusive Economic Zone
(EEZ) around the U.S. in 1983, he increased the Nation's sovereign area
by 3.4 million square miles. The historic act also posed a major challenge
for NOAA -- mapping a "new territory", the seafloor of the EEZ which encompasses
an area greater than the land area of the U.S. and its territories. NOAA
and its predecessor organizations have provided maritime products in support
of the Nation's commerce since President Jefferson created the Survey of
the Coast in 1807. Over the years, as technology has advanced, the agency
has maintained a leadership position in marine mapping, applying that technology
to its programs. NOAA, in cooperation with the U.S. Geological Survey of
the Department of Interior now is conducting surveys of selected high priority
areas of the EEZ, using new multibeam swath technology. Development of
the multibeam sonar system, advances in computer technology, applications
of heave-roll pitch sensors to account for ship motion, and improved marine
positioning accuracy all contribute to our improved ability to map the
NOAA is engaged in a program to produce 1:100,000 scale detailed bathymetric
maps (for example, 179 such maps would be required to cover the west coast
EEZ). Bathymetric maps are topographic maps of the seafloor which are basic
tools for scientific, engineering, and marine environmental studies. Detailed
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bathymetry off our shores will form the basis for private sector exploration
and subsequent development of EEZ resources. The compiled maps also will
be contained on digital data tapes. It should be noted, however, that the
high resolution, bathymetric data acquired by NOAA's multibeam swath survey
systems is viewed by the Department of Defense (DOD) as a potential threat
to national security. The issue has not been fully resolved, at the time
of this writing, between NOAA, DOD and the National Security Council, so
only limited release of the information is being made.
Since 1984, NOAA has conducted the largest and most comprehensive national
monitoring program of coastal marine environmental quality ever undertaken
in the U.S. The objective of the program is to determine the existing status
and the long-term, general trends of environmental quality in estuarine
and coastal areas throughout the U.S. Essentially, the program is measuring levels of toxic chemicals in bottom-feeding fish, mussels and oysters,
and sediments. Known as the National Status and Trends Program this effort
has two field sampling and analysis components: (1) the Benthic Surveillance
Project, completing a third year of collection at 50 sites; and (2) the
Mussel Watch Project, with sample collection completing its first year
at 150 sites. Samples are collected once a year at each site and analyzed to
determine levels of synthetic chlorinated compounds (e.g., DDT, polychlorinated
biphenyls (PCBs), polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), and toxic trace
elements e.g., mercury and lead). Other key elements of the program are
a "specimen bank" to store samples for analysis in the future; extensive
and rigorous quality assurance, calibration and standardization procedures;
and collection of historical data on indicators of environmental quality
over the past 40 years. The principal product of the program will be a
high quality, national data base, that contains information on environmental
quality in coastal and estuarine areas.
The Ocean Assessments Division of NOAA's National Ocean Service also
is building a number of other "first of their kind" comprehensive national
data bases to aid resources managers or decision-makers in interdisciplinary,
strategic assessments. Strategic Assessment Data Atlases are being produced
to synthesize the best available information on important characteristics
of each geographic region of the EEZ (East Coast, 1980; Gulf of Mexico,
1986; Bering, Chukchi and Beaufort Seas, 1987; and West Coast and Gulf
of Alaska, 1988). The National Coastal Pollutant Discharge Inventory represents
the first attempt to develop a comprehensive, national assessment of pollutant
discharges entering the estuarine, coastal and oceanic waters of the contiguous
states. The National Estuarine Inventory will provide assessment capability
for comparison and analysis of estuarine resources. It includes 92 estuaries
of over 32,000 square miles accounting for 90% of the estuarine surface
water and fresh water inflow and will eventually contain data on physical
and hydrologic characteristics, adjacent land use, living marine resource
distribution, and data from the other inventories, as well as the Status
and Trends Program. Other inventories and data bases being developed by
this unique Federal program are: (1) National Shellfish Register; (2) National
Coastal Wetlands Data Base; (3) Economic Survey of Outdoor Marine Recreation;
and (4) Living Marine Resources.
Geodesy is the science of accurately determining the location of points
on the earth's surface, the earth's gravity field, and its orientation
in space. NOAA's National Ocean Service provides the Nation with the fundamental
- 39 -
geodetic reference system which is the foundation of all surveying,
mapping and charting. Reference points in the two control networks (horizontal
and vertical) are the base starting points for land surveyors, engineers,
planners, scientists and tax authorities. Example applications of geodetic
data include transportation; utilities routing; dam and water projects;
and positioning and tracking of defense weapon systems and satellites.
NOAA also plays a leading international role in application of new technologies
to geodetic and other earth science problems.
The 1980's will see completion of an eleven-year effort for readjustment
of the North American Horizontal Geodetic Reference System. Because the
geodetic control network has been established and expanded across the country
since 1807, discrepancies and inconsistencies have accumulated from connection
of new surveys to old. To correct the resulting wide variations in reliability
and accuracy, NOAA is readjusting each point in the network (250,000) in
reference to nationwide datums, by complex mathematical processes. The
adjustment of the network will provide a geodetic position accuracy of
1 ½ inches.
Space age technology is causing revolutionary changes in geodesy, with
accuracies improved 100- to 1,000-fold over classical techniques. These
precise measurements can be used to verify continental drift theories.
Plate tectonics, glacial rebound, global sea level rise, polar motion,
and global atmospheric phenomena now can be monitored for research, and
the development of possible mitigating responses to these changes in the
global earth system. NOAA has taken the lead in the application of these
new technologies which will require close cooperation with other Federal
and international organizations.
Safe marine and aerial navigation are vital NOAA objectives. Steady
progress has been made in the automation of charting. In 1985 alone, nearly
3 million copies of 1500 different nautical maps and related publications
for coastal and Great Lakes waterways, plus daily tide predictions for
6200 ports and harbors, were issued.
Nearly 10.5 million copies of more than 7500 aeronautical charts and
related publications were issued to help assure safe navigation in the
U.S. airspace system. The satellite-aided global positioning system can now routinely determine positions of points on the national geodetic reference system at on-fifth the cost of conventional methods.
The 1980's brought the Coastal Zone Management Program to a significant
stage in it's development. In 1986, the State of Virginia became the twenty-ninth
state or territory to develop Federally-approved coastal zone management
programs. Ninety percent of the U.S. coastline is now covered by state
operated coastal programs designed to ensure the protection and rational development of the Nation's vital shorelines.
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Increasingly, we turn to the oceans for food, and U.S. fishermen take
a larger share of the total catch within the 200-mile U.S. zone created
by the Magnuson Fishery Conservation and Management Act. Currently, thirty-three
(33) management plans developed pursuant to the MFCMA now cover most of
the commercial stocks of edible and industrial fish and shellfish. American
fishermen are taking increasingly larger shares of fish, with a steadily
growing lead over catches by the formerly dominant foreign nations.
Joint venture harvests by American fishermen, who sell their catches
at sea to foreign processing vessels, continued to grow in the 1980's.
Such harvests in 1984 involved nearly 1.5 billion pounds of fish, valued
at $79 million.
The U.S. traditionally has been in the forefront of marine mammal protection.
Careful regulation has sheltered the stocks of sea turtles, seals and porpoises
under NOAA's protection, and, thanks in large part to the efforts of the
U.S. Commissioner to the International Whaling Commission -- NOAA's Administrator
-- commercial whaling, worldwide, soon will be a thing of the past.
Closely allied to the conservation of fish stocks and marine mammals
is the protection of their habitats. NOAA took a major step forward in
1983 when close alliances were forged with the Army Corps of Engineers,
the coastal states, and regional fishery management councils to improve
cooperation and research related to fishery habitats. Since then, the habitat
program has signed agreements with oil companies, developers and city governments
to create habitat "mitigation banks" -- allowing undeveloped land to be
used as "credit" to trade off elsewhere. In October 1985, NOAA and the
Corps of Engineers announced a plan to collaborate on a three-year pilot
study of restoring and creating habitat in the southeast and southwest.
The Fisheries Service envisions a system that will create and improve marshes,
upgrade water circulation, rehabilitate marine vegetation and shellfish
beds, and create artificial reefs.
Fish is growing in popularity by leaps and bounds as a dinner-table
delicacy-- just witness the blackened redfish craze, which threatened the
redfish stock before the Commerce Department stepped in. Underlying this
burgeoning popularity is an increasing evidence that fish--especially the
oil-rich fish once shunned by dieticians--are good for the heart. In cooperation
with the National Institutes of Health, National Marine Fisheries Service
researchers are studying the possibility that the unique oils in seafood
may not only reduce heart disease but some inflammatory ailments as well.
NOAA works vigorously and continuously to expand the export of fish
as well as promoting its consumption at home. The Fisheries Service has
collaborated with the International Trade Administration to expand exports
and develop joint procedures for marketing activity.
Satellite and Information Services
In August 1980, the National Earth Satellite Service (NESS) was removed
from the Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Services and became a principal
agency line organization with an Assistant Administrator who reported directly
to the Administrator. This move reflected the increasing importance of
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observations to NOAA's environmental science and service responsibilities.
The move was largely precipitated by a decision in November 1979 to assign
NOAA management responsibility for
civil operational remote
sensing from space -- including the development of an operational land
remote sensing program now known as LANDSAT. The fulfillment of NOAA's
responsibility for operational weather and earth sensing satellite systems
remains a major focus of agency attention in the 1980's.
At NESDIS, a new generation of geostationary orbiting satellites is
being developed to provide more frequent and higher resolution imagery
simultaneous with improved atmospheric soundings. Called GOES-NEXT, the
first of three such satellites will be available by mid-1989. This procurement
will ensure continuity of the hurricane-spotting GOES system through the
1990's. The timeliness and quality of the combined polar and geostationary
satellite data have been greatly improved by computer installations, upgraded
ground facilities, and data sharing agreements with military weather services.
They beam over 2 ½ billion bits of information to earth daily--information
vital to weather forecasters.
A boon to pilots and mariners in distress the world over, the international
COSPAS/SARSAT search-and rescue satellite system has nearly 600 "saves"
to its credit. In the 1980's, NOAA took over management of SARSAT operations
from NASA, and intensive efforts are underway to reduce a high incidence
of false alarms, caused by improper handling of the system's radio beacons.
These highlights demonstrate that the 25th anniversary of weather satellites
in 1985 was celebrated with a commitment to the future.
As these few examples attest, the goals, responsibilities and programs
of NOAA today reflect a continued commitment to the philosophy that created
it. Recognizing that the oceans and the atmosphere are closely-linked,
interactive components of a global earth system, NOAA's primary mission
and the ultimate goal of all its activities remains the prediction of environmental
change to protect life and property, and provide industry and decision
makers with a reliable base of scientific information on the world in which
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History of NOAA
List of References
1. Nixon, Richard M. Statement to Congress accompanying Reorganization
Plan Number 4 of 1970. July 9, 1970. Office of the White House Press Secretary,
2. Commission on Marine Science, Engineering and Resources (Julius A.
Our Nation and the Sea: A Plan for National Action
January 1969. U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C.
Autobiography of Maurice Stans
(excerpted material forwarded
from DOC/PA staff without any additional references).
Volume 5, Number 4. October 1970. Office of Public Information,
U.S. Dept. of Commerce, Environmental Science Services Administration.
5. Reprint of: "The Environmental Science Services Administration".
. May-June 1965. (A publication of the Weather Bureau, U.S.
Department of Commerce).
7. Konop, Dane. "175 years of service to the Nation: The History of
NOAA's National Ocean Survey -- 1807-1982." (Editor's Preface to the 1981
National Ocean Survey Annual Report). May 1982. Unpublished. (This document
provided most of the material on the early years of the Coast and Geodetic Survey/Service).
9. Suloff, Commander Donald L. "Evolution of the NOAA Corps." Unpublished.
10. Konop, Dane. "175 years of service to the Nation: The History of
NOAA's National Ocean Survey -- 1807-1982." (Editor's Preface to the 1981
National Ocean Survey Annual Report). May 1982. Unpublished.
11. "70 Years of Progress 1891-1961."
, Volume 20. May 1961. U.S.
Department of Commerce Weather Bureau. (Provided most of the historical
material on the Weather Bureau).
12. Reprinted material from: Vaeth, Gordon. 1965.
Weather Eyes in
13. Reprint of: "The Environmental Science Services Administration."
. May-June 1965. U.S. Department of Commerce, Weather Bureau.
- 43 -
, Volume 5, Number 4. October 1970. Office of Public
Information, U.S. Department of Commerce, Environmental Science Services
Administration, Rockville, Maryland.
. July 1966. Office of Public Information, U.S.
Department of Commerce, Environmental Science Services Administration.
, Volume 5, Number 4. October 1970. Office of Public
Information, U.S. Department of Commerce, Environmental Science Services
Administration. Rockville, Maryland.
24. "Fisheries: The Living Resources of the Sea." NOAA:
A Young Agency
with an Historic Tradition of Service to the Nation
. October 1980.
U.S. Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
27. "Coastal Zone Management: Competing Demands for Ocean & Coastal Resources."
NOAA: A Young Agency with a [Ed. an Historic] Tradition of Service to the Nation
October 1980. U.S. Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric
28. "Research and Development: New knowledge, New Technologies."
A Young Agency with a [Ed. an Historic] Tradition of Service to the Nation
1980. U.S. Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
29."New Directions for NOAA's Undersea Research Program." Report of
the National Undersea Research Study PaneI (Chairman, Feenan D. Jennings,
Texas A&M University). 1987. Currently in publication.
Other Principal Source Materials
Hughes, Patrick. "America's Weather Services: Looking to Tomorrow."
, Volume 10, Number 5. September/October 1980. Office of
Public Affairs, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, U.S. Department
- 44 -
Stanley, William A. "The Nation's Chartmaker." In:
10, Number 5. September/October 1980. Office of Public Affairs, National
Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, U.S. Dept. of Commerce.
Brennan, William J. "Night Flight." In:
, Volume 10, Number
5. Office of Public Affairs, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration,
U.S. Department of Commerce.
"A Brief History of the National Weather Service." January 1979. Office
of Public Affairs, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, U.S.
Dept. of Commerce. Unpublished.
Fleagle, Robert G. 1986. "NOAA's Role in the National Interest." In:
Science, Technology and Human Values
, Volume 11, Issue 2, pp 51-62
(Spring 1986). John Riley and Sons. (copyright 1986 by Massachusetts Institute
of Technology and the President and Fellows of Howard [Ed. Harvard] College).
Hughes, Patrick and Basil Littin. "Background Editorial Memorandum:
A 25th Anniversary Update on Weather Satellites." Office of Public Affairs,
National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration, U.S. Dept. of Commerce.
Undated and unpublished.
, Volume 1, Number 1. January 1971. Office of Public Afairs
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, U.S. Dept. of Commerce.
a number of unpublished internal agency memoranda and briefing materials
with no specific author(s) identified.