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.


CoastWatch Organization Chart

• (CW) CoastWatch  • (NCEI) National Center for Environmental Information  • (NESDIS) National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service  • (NMFS) National Marine Fisheries Service  • (NOS) National Ocean Service  • (OAR) Oceanic and Atmospheric Research  • (OC) Ocean Color  • (OSPO) Office of Satellite and Product Operations  • (OW) OceanWatch  • (PAL) Product Area Leads  • (PW) PolarWatch  • (SST) Sea Surface Temperature


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 Gymnodinium breve 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

CoastWatch has expanded from POES/ AVHRR SST data for the East Coast to providing a variety of environmental data (i.e. SST, ocean color, winds, sea surface height,sea surface roughness from synthetic aperture radar (SAR), salinity and sea ice) from several different satellite platforms with global coverage for many products and 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.