Facilitate the use of ocean satellite data to improve outcomes.

Mission Statement

NOAA CoastWatch/OceanWatch provides easy access for everyone to global and regional satellite data products for use in understanding, managing and protecting ocean and coastal resources and for assessing impacts of environmental change in ecosystems, weather, and climate.


  • Be the interface between the users of satellite data products (and related in situ data) and satellite remote sensing science and algorithm development.
  • Serve interested people, researchers, forecasters, decision-makers within NOAA and beyond NOAA.
  • Provide data at global and regional spatial resolution.
  • Provide timely access to low latency data for near-real- time applications.
  • Provide consistent access to high quality, long term time series data for climate and ecosystem research and applications.
  • Produce and provide tailored products for core constituent users.
  • Educate and train users about using satellite data and CoastWatch products


NOAA CoastWatch was established in 1987 in response to two significant environmental events. A Harmful Algal Bloom (HAB) event occurred off the coast of North Carolina transporting the toxic Karenia brevis (formerly known as Gymnodinium breve and Ptychodiscus brevis) cells from Florida via the Gulf Stream into the colder coastal waters near Cape Lookout. Also, a severe mammal die-off occurred, where more than 700 bottlenose dolphins died off the mid-Atlantic coast. Both instances prompted Federal and State officials to explore additional data sources for monitoring the coastal waters, such as near real-time satellite data.

the waveCoastWatch has expanded from POES/AVHRR SST data for the East Coast to providing a variety of environmental data (i.e. SST, ocean color, winds, etc.) from several different satellite platforms covering all U.S. coastal waters, including Hawaii and Alaska.

Today, sea surface temperature maps support meteorological weather predictions and also support commercial and recreational activities (e.g., fishing). Biologists utilize ocean color radiometry data and derived chlorophyll-a and total suspended matter/turbidity products to identify runoff plumes and blooms and also predict HABs; and sailors and commercial shipping pilots use ocean surface vector winds for safe navigation.