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Oceans & Coasts

Monitoring our Waters

The ocean and large inland lakes play an integral role in many of the Earth's systems, including climate and weather. There are five named ocean basins: Arctic, Atlantic, Indian, Pacific, and Southern, and there is over 95,000 miles of shoreline in the United States alone. 

To monitor it all, NOAA satellites are gathering data that can, among other things, monitor gases, temperature, and the biological components of the oceans. Different satellites carry different instruments and measure different parameters. Two widely recognized parameters are sea surface temperatures and winds over ocean waters. Different branches of NESDIS work with the Ocean Service to conduct research using satellite and in-situ observations to infer various oceanic, coastal, climatic, and marine weather processes.

Cape Cod bay and shorline
Satellite image of Cape Cod Bay, Massachusetts.


How to Monitor

Image of The Chesapeake Bay - NOAA Monitors a Critical Habitat
Harmful algal blooms, or HABs, occur when colonies of algae — simple plants that live in the sea and freshwater — grow out of control.
What is a HAB?
Image of global land ocean temperature percentiles, from March 2020.
Rising amounts of greenhouse gases are preventing heat from Earth’s surface from escaping into space. Most of the excess heat that doesn’t escape Earth’s atmosphere is passed back to the ocean.
Ocean Temperatures Matter!
Map of estimated sea level rise measurements.
Many estimates of sea-level rise are based on measurements from satellite radar altimeters onboard TOPEX/Poseidon, Jason-1, Jason-2, and Jason-3.
Rising Sea Levels
Graphic image of Argos
ARGO's is a data collection and relay program that provides global coverage and platform location.
ARGOS Systems
Image of coral underwater
NOAA’s Coral Reef Watch program uses satellites to monitor ocean temperatures, which, if too high, can lead to coral bleaching. Corals have a symbiotic relationship with the algae that live inside their tissues.
Coral Reef Watch


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