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Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research

The Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research (OAR) is a division of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). OAR is also referred to as NOAA Research.

NOAA Research is the research and development arm of NOAA and is the driving force behind NOAA environmental products and services aimed at protecting life and property and promoting sustainable economic growth. Research, conducted by programs within NOAA and through collaborations outside NOAA, focuses on enhancing the 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.


  • What NOAA Research does 1
    • Climate research 1.1
    • Atmospheric research 1.2
    • Ocean and coastal research 1.3
  • Benefits of NOAA Research 2
  • NOAA Research laboratories 3
  • Joint Institute research partners 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6

What NOAA Research does

Working under the broad themes of Climate, Atmosphere, and Oceans, NOAA scientists study the ocean's depths and the highest reaches of space. NOAA's long-term commitment to conducting preeminent research includes engaging in-house and external 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 and earlier warnings for natural disasters.
  • Use new information technology to share information with other federal and academic scientists.
  • 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.

The components and programs of NOAA Research are:

NOAA Research has three primary research areas: climate, atmosphere and oceans.

Climate research

NOAA's research laboratories, the Climate Program Office, and research partners conduct research into complex climate systems and how they work. The aim of this research is to predict climate variation in the shorter term, for example, cold spells or periods of drought, and over longer terms, such as centuries and beyond.

NOAA scientists are at the forefront of studying climate change and modeling what the effects will be on the Earth. Researchers at NOAA’s Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory (GLERL) have developed the Coupled Hydrosphere-Atmosphere Research Model (CHARM) to enable a valid assessment of the impact of how climate change might affect the climate and ecology of the Great Lakes. The CHARM model provides a realistic surface-atmosphere feedback portrayal, and accounts for runoff from land surfaces. It allows researchers to predict that global warming likely will bring higher temperatures and increased precipitation to the Great Lakes. Development of a second generation of CHARM is underway to help answer questions about greenhouse warming effects on Great Lakes water quantity.

NOAA researchers closely monitor the Earth's atmosphere searching for clues about long-term changes in the global climate. The data collected worldwide by NOAA researchers contributes to the understanding of complex climatic systems and the ability to forecast changes.

Atmospheric research

NOAA Research organizations conduct research on the upper and lower atmosphere as well as the space environment. Their findings form the basis for NOAA's contributions to major national and international environmental programs and agreements.

For instance, improvements in forecast and warning services provided by the National Weather Service are a direct result of NOAA research. Improvements in numerical modeling, observations gathered by satellites and Doppler weather radars (NEXRAD), and sophisticated weather warning and information processing and communications systems, have collectively led to significantly improved severe weather forecasts and warnings.

Other research programs focus on observation and study of the chemical and physical processes of the atmosphere, detecting the effects of pollution on those processes and monitoring and forecasting the phenomena affecting the Sun-Earth environment.

Ocean and coastal research

NOAA Research, in cooperation with its research partners, explores and investigates ocean habitats and resources. The findings of NOAA researchers contribute to the management of fisheries, conservation of coastlines, and development of a stronger economy through marine products and businesses, such as biotechnology and sustainable aquaculture.

NOAA’s Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory (PMEL) in Seattle, Washington, designed Deep-ocean Assessment and Reporting of Tsunamis (DART-II) technology, which provides two-way communication capabilities, allowing engineers the ability to troubleshoot these systems from the lab and repair them remotely when possible. This capability minimizes system downtime, especially in the harsh winter conditions of the North Pacific, and reduces costs by not having to deploy a ship to make repairs.

Benefits of NOAA Research

Most environmental questions are not easily answered. NOAA is committed to tackling the complex issues that only advanced scientific knowledge can adequately address. NOAA Research seeks to:

  • Provide 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;
  • Improve environmental services to the nation, including reliable predictions and assessments; and
  • Promote economic growth through science for decision-making, new technology, and partnerships with academia and industry.

NOAA Research laboratories

The 7 laboratories that are part of NOAA Research are located throughout the United States near their areas of focus.

Joint Institute research partners

NOAA Research partners with research-oriented universities and institutions to share data and resources to advance the goals of NOAA.


External links

  • Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research
  • National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
  • NOAA Cooperative Research Institutes
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