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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
and Information Services
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 satellite 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 all 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.
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.
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.
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 we live.