NOAA History Banner
gold bar divider
home - takes you to index page
about the site
noaa - takes you to the noaa home page
search this site
white divider
arrow NOAA Legacy
arrow Agency History

a history of noaa
Page: left arrow 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 click for next page

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. [10]

Weather Bureau [11]

The second oldest element of what became the Environmental Science Services Administration was the Weather Bureau. 1991 will mark the 100th anniversary of the civilian 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 government 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:

• 1817 -- a system of weather observations at land offices established by Josiah Miegs, Commissioner-General of the Land Office.

1825-1850 -- New York University and the State of Pennsylvania operate state networks of weather observations.

1849 -- Professor Joseph Henry of the Smithsonian Institution establishes first extensive observation network by supplying weather instruments to telegraph companies. Dr. Henry prepared maps based on simultaneous observations sent to the Smithsonian by telegraph operators and often made predictions based on those maps -- the first published weather forecasts in the U.S. This network was severely disrupted by the Civil War.

1865 -- Dr. Henry's annual report urges reorganization of all meteorological observations under a single agency as a means of predicting storms and warning coastal shipping.

1869 -- a new weather observation network established by Cleveland Abbe, Director of the Cincinnati Observatory. Using some of the former Smithsonian observers, Professor Abbe issued forecasts which he called "probabilities."

1870 -- An Act [Ed. Joint Resolution] of Congress (introduced in 1869 by Congressman H. E. Paine of Wisconsin) established a national weather warning service under the Secretary of War. Capitalizing on a widespread telegraph system and the interest of their head, Colonel A. J. Myer, the Army Signal Corps assumed responsibility for taking observations at military stations and warning of storms on the Great Lakes and the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts.

1871 -- first daily weather maps appeared in January and weather predictions began to be published regularly in February.

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

Last Updated: June 8, 2006 9:24 AM

Privacy Policy | Disclaimer