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Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research
1315 East-West Highway
Silver Spring, MD 20910

About Us and our organization

About NOAA Research

Vision Mission
A society that uses the results of our research as the scientific basis for more productive and harmonious relationships between humans and the environment. To conduct environmental research, provide scientific information and research leadership, and transfer research into products and services to help NOAA meet the evolving economic, social, and environmental needs of the Nation.

Who We Are

NOAA's research, conducted through the Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research (OAR), is the driving force behind NOAA environmental products and services that protect life and property and promote sustainable economic growth. Research, conducted by programs within NOAA and through collaborations outside NOAA, focuses on enhancing our understanding of environmental phenomena such as tornadoes, hurricanes, climate variability, changes in the ozone layer, El Niño/La Niña events, fisheries productivity, ocean currents, deep sea thermal vents, and coastal ecosystem health. NOAA research also develops innovative technologies and observing systems. The NOAA Research network consists of  internal Research Laboratories, programs for Undersea Research and Ocean Exploration, a grants program through the Climate Program Office, external research at Sea Grant universities and programs, and Cooperative Joint Institutes with academia. Through NOAA and its academic partners, thousands of scientists, engineers, technicians, and graduate students participate in furthering our knowledge of natural phenomena that affect the lives of us all.

NOAA's research serves diverse customers. The average citizen benefits through earlier warnings of threatening weather, healthier coasts and fisheries, or a broader understanding of environmental processes. The private sector uses NOAA data to make business decisions and also employs technology developed and transferred by NOAA scientists. Federal agencies, state governments, and local authorities rely on NOAA research expertise for the sound scientific basis of crucial policy decisions related to environmental protection and restoration strategies. NOAA researchers are recognized as international leaders on environmental issues. With their international counterparts, NOAA scientists contribute to the understanding and assessment of issues such as ozone depletion and climate variability which must be addressed worldwide to ensure success.

What We Do

NOAA and the nation depend on the cutting-edge science provided by its research programs. Recently, NOAA Research built much of the foundation for the modernization of the National Weather Service. The research programs provide the sound science necessary to help NOAA achieve her goals to:

  • serve society's needs for weather and water information;
  • lead the effort to understand and monitor climate variability and change to enhance society's ability to plan and respond;
  • work to protect, restore and manage the use of coastal and ocean resources through ecosystem-based management; and
  • support the Nation's commerce with information for safe, efficient and environmentally sound transportation.

Working under the broad themes of Climate, Weather and Air Quality, and Ocean and Coastal Resources, NOAA scientists study the ocean's depths and the highest reaches of space to better understand our environment. NOAA's long-term commitment to the highest quality research includes engaging in-house and extramural talent to:

  • continue to conduct experiments to understand natural processes (physical, geochemical, ecological);
  • build predictive models for use in weather, climate, solar, ocean, and coastal assessments and predictions;
  • develop and deploy new observing technologies to provide data to support predictive models and to document natural variability;
  • develop new analytical and forecast tools to improve weather services;
  • use new information technology to share information with other federal and academic scientists; and
  • prepare scientific assessments and information products to enhance public education and guide governmental action.

Research plans and products are developed in partnership with academia and other federal agencies, and are peer-reviewed and widely distributed. A high premium is placed on external collaboration both domestically and internationally. In addition, personnel management practices of hiring, promotion, and awards are based on demonstrable capability through internal and external peer assessment. Peer review, collaboration, and partnerships ensure that NOAA's research is of the highest quality and remains focused on critical issues.

How the Nation and the World Benefit

Most of the environmental questions our nation and the world face are not easily answered. A strong NOAA is necessary to tackle the complex issues that only advanced scientific knowledge is able to adequately address. NOAA Research answers the call and:

  • provides comprehensive knowledge to guide national environmental policy decisions, including better predictions of the climate response to emissions changes, choices for protection of the ozone layer, and alternatives for developing coastal communities;
  • improves environmental services to the nation, including reliable predictions and assessments; and
  • promotes economic growth through science for decision-making, new technology, and partnerships with academia and industry;

NOAA is a world leader in environmental science today and is well positioned and organized to provide the sound scientific research policy-makers will always need.


NOAA building in Silver Spring

Assistant Administrator
Dr. Richard W. Spinrad, CMarSci

Deputy Assistant Administrator for Laboratories and Cooperative Institutes
Dr. Alexander "Sandy" MacDonald

Deputy Assistant Administrator for Programs and Administration
Craig McLean