Episode 56: NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration)

Welcome to Slow American English, the podcast for learners of American English. I’m your host, Karren Tolliver.

This is episode number 56: NOAA – The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

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Now for the podcast:


What is the weather like where you live? What is the climate like? Does your country lie on an ocean? How does your country record and measure the weather, climate and oceans? For the USA, all these things and more are studied by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Most people just call it NOAA. It is one of the most purely scientific organizations in the US government.

NOAA is part of the US Department of Commerce. There is a large administrative staff to share and coordinate information and perform other duties. Besides the staff of leaders, NOAA has six divisions, or line offices. Each line office specializes in a specific area of study. Here is a list of line offices and what they do:

  • National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service, or NESDIS, studies global environmental conditions and changes. They operate satellites that study Earth and space. They work with other environmental organizations all over the world. Their information is used for weather and climate forecasting. They make this information available to scientists worldwide.
  • National Marine Fisheries Service, or NMFS, takes care of ocean resources. They make sure we have sustainable fisheries and healthy seafood. They are in charge of protecting natural ocean ecosystems and important species such as whales, sea turtles, coral and salmon.
  • National Ocean Service, or NOS, supports coastal economies on the Atlantic, Pacific and Great Lakes. They help ship transportation by providing navigation charts and water level information. They help predict and prepare coastal communities for big events like hurricanes, flooding and oil spills. They also study and help preserve coastal areas for nature, recreation and tourism.
  • National Weather Service, or NWS, studies and analyzes climate, water and weather data. The result is more accurate weather forecasts and better protection of people, property and the economy.
  • Office of Marine & Aviation Operations, or OMAO, studies conditions and changes in the atmosphere and oceans. They operate a fleet of research and survey ships that gather data about deep oceans and shallow bays. Their airplanes fly all over the world to give us information about storms, to map coastlines, and to do other research.
  • Office of Oceanic & Atmospheric Research, or OAR, is also called NOAA Research. This line office works with other parts of NOAA to produce better forecasts, earlier warnings for storms and natural disasters, and deeper knowledge of the entire earth. With their objective data about our world, we are able to manage our environment better.

The US government had scientific research agencies long before NOAA was founded. In 1807, the US Coast and Geodetic Survey was formed to create nautical charts for ports. In 1870, the Weather Bureau was founded. One year later, the Commission of Fish and Fisheries came along. These organizations and other departments were combined into NOAA in 1970. Today, it’s one of the largest scientific research organizations in the world, and it works with many other groups worldwide to benefit people all over the world.

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This has been Slow American English. I’m Karren Tolliver. Thank you for listening.