The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) was formed in 1970 as an agency in the US Department of Commerce. At that time several older scientific agencies were brought under the umbrella of NOAA, including the weather bureau, bureau of commercial fisheries and the US coastal survey agency. NOAA carries out the same operations as the agencies it absorbed.
NOAA provides the US National Weather Service, which studies and observes weather patterns, makes weather predictions, and issues warnings. It provides weather information to other meteorology companies, but it is the only agency that can issue weather alerts in the US. This arm of NOAA also studies climate patterns and events, such as El Nino, tsunamis, lightning, volcanoes, hurricanes and tornadoes.
NOAA also protects US commercial fisheries and ensures they are sustainable, by studying the marine environment and ecological and other factors that affect the viability of fisheries. It also acts to protect the marine environment and resources, and to ensure fragile habitats are preserved.
Another of NOAA’s functions is to carry out coastal and geodetic surveys. It produces nautical maps and charts, and provides information on sea currents and other information needed for navigation. The geodetic survey section manages a system of coordinates called the NSRS (National Spatial Reference System) and provides maps and aerial surveys, especially near airports, to help ensure the safety of air travel.
NOAA has numerous seagoing vessels and aircraft for use in its scientific studies.