Purpose

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.

Objectives

  • 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

This is the image that started it all!

 

NOAA CoastWatch was established in response to two significant environmental events. A Harmful Algal Bloom (HAB) event in 1987 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.


NOAA CoastWatch was established in response to two significant environmental events. A Harmful Algal Bloom (HAB) event in 1987 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 wave
The Wave:  An early
CoastWatch logo.

Initially serving our customers Sea Surface Temperature (SST) data for the East Coast  from POES/AVHRR instruments, CoastWatch has now expanded to providing users moderate assurance service of  a variety of environmental data (i.e. SST, ocean color, winds, etc.) and value added products and services from many NOAA and non-NOAA satellite platforms covering the globe, including the entire U.S. EEZ coastal waters, including Hawaii and Alaska, global ocean and polar (high latitiude) products.

The NOAA CoastWatch Program is based in NOAA/NESDIS/STAR/SOCD is organized with "3 pillars" and cross-NOAA Line Office Nodes.  The Central Operations team is primarily based in College Park, MD along with the Research and Applications Team.  The CoastWatch Regional Nodes are distributed geographically across the country and housed in various NOAA Line Offices.  The CoastWatch Nodes currently include three in NOAA Fisheries (NMFS), two NOAA Research (OAR), and one in the National Ocean Service (NOS).  A  Node at the National Weather Service is anticipated to be reinstated soon.  Together, these 3 pillars support the CoastWatch mission to help people use satellite data in their ocean, coastal and inland water applications.  We do this by developing and processing value-added products for our NOAA operational users (such as time and space composites, etc.); customization for regional users; providing visualization and data download tools for one-stop shopping for available data, teaching free satellite data training courses and online tutorials; staffing a highly knowledgeable  and responsive user helpdesk; and engaging and collaborating with stakeholders in the development of new products, tools and services in support of applications for decision-making.  Embodying the OneNOAA philosophy through leadership from across most NOAA line offices,

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NOAA CoastWatch/OceanWatch/PolarWatch "3 pillars' organization. 
The Program is primarily housed in NOAA/NESDIS/STAR/SOCD
with Regional Nodes located in other NOAA Line Offices.

Today, sea surface temperature, winds, and current products 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 and current products for safe navigationFind out more here!