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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:

The Office of Fisheries -- responsible for: managing and conserving fishery resources within 200 miles of the coast; protecting vital fish and marine mammal habitats; and promoting the economic development of the U.S. fishing industry.

The Office of Coastal Zone Management -- responsible for: the establishment of national policies on the use and protection of coastal areas; support to states for the development and implementation of coastal zone management programs (pursuant to the CZMA); and the protection of unique coastal areas through establishment of estuarine or marine sanctuaries.

The Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Services -- responsible for: the issuance of weather forecasts and warnings; the preparation of nautical and aeronautical charts and other navigational aids; management of the NOAA fleet; and operation of the largest environmental data storage and retrieval system in the world.

The Office of Research and Development -- responsible for: the support (in NOAA laboratories and in the academic community) for environmental research to support NOAA program needs; implementation of the Sea Grant program; and Federal leadership for interagency, international research programs like the Global Atmospheric Research Program (GARP).

The Office of Satellites -- responsible for: management of the Nation's operational weather satellite program; and the transition of the experimental land remote sensing (LANDSAT) program to an operational program.

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:

• The Nation's largest civil oceanographic research and hydrographic survey fleet as well as a fleet of research and weather reconnaissance aircraft.

• The Nation's only civilian operational satellite system including: geostationary satellites which, in orbit 22,000 miles above a fixed point on the equator, provide continuous monitoring of environmental conditions like hurricanes and tropical storms; polar-orbiting satellites which orbit 522 miles above the earth and monitor global environmental conditions such as atmospheric temperatures, snow and ice fields, and cloud cover; and the land remote sensing satellite (LANDSAT) system which was initiated as an experimental system by NASA in 1972.

• An extensive computing capability across the country with the principal, large-scale, advanced computing facility located in Suitland, Maryland in support of meteorological and satellite programs; and

• A major national asset in the form of a network of research laboratories across the country including:

- the Environmental Research Laboratory (ERL) system (headquartered in Boulder) which managed four atmospheric, two oceanographic and five multi-disciplinary laboratories;

- twenty National Marine Fisheries Service laboratories supporting biological and ecological research; and

- ten other laboratories and facilities for applied research and development focused on the need for new technology applications to improve NOAA services.

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.

Publication of the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), NOAA Central Library.

Last Updated: June 8, 2006 9:24 AM

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