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1. Our sun rising over the eastern horizon signals the start of another day on Planet Earth.
2. While beautiful at sunrise, the sun spawns storms that interfere with the Earth's geomagnetic field. The network of satellite communication, electric power, and navigation systems that encircle our globe is periodically disrupted by solar storms.
3. Similarly, daily activities are disturbed by severe storms, droughts, floods, fires, tornadoes, and hurricanes. Our lives and economy also are affected by pollution and other complex phenomena that scientists realize are both human and natural in origin.
4. Within the research arm of NOAA, dedicated scientists are studying the forces that affect our Earth, from the surface of the sun to the heart of a severe storm, to volcanoes erupting underneath our oceans.
5. These scientists are part of the Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research, a division of the Department of Commerce's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
6. The NOAA mission — to help protect life, property and the environment — depends upon a wide range of cutting-edge scientific research. In cooperation with universities, agencies and governments worldwide, our researchers help to foster a clearer understanding of how human and natural forces influence the health of the environment and the economy, and have an impact on public safety, and ultimately, the very future of our planet.
7. Meteorologists monitor a dangerous thunderstorm that threatens a local community. NOAA researchers are constantly improving our understanding of severe weather and providing new tools for forecasters. This work promises more accurate warnings of menacing storms, including identifying sooner those that may spawn a deadly tornado.
8. NOAA scientists strive to improve forecasts and increase warning time in order to protect lives and property. They have developed Doppler radar to track storms, resulting in the Next Generation Radar, or NEXRAD system, which is featured on nightly TV weather broadcasts. These radars already have doubled the lead-time of tornado warnings throughout the country. Scientists of NOAA's Environmental Research Laboratories are now doing research that will lead to even longer lead times and expand the radar capabilities to monitor rainfall and complex wind patterns.
9. By using the latest data from satellites and supercomputers, and employing the latest research techniques, NOAA research scientists have refined their hurricane prediction models, saving money and lives. Forecasters are now better able to predict where these intense storms will strike, allowing emergency workers to evacuate the right areas at the right time and reducing false alarm rates. These increasingly accurate predictions save hundreds of thousands of dollars for every mile of coastline that is not evacuated.
10. New workstations being developed by NOAA's research laboratories will further contribute to modernization of weather forecasting. Computer models combined with key data provided at the forecasters' fingertips allow for increasingly accurate forecasts made directly from desktop computers.
11. Flash floods and their ensuing damage pose a major threat to life and property each year. NOAA scientists are now laying the groundwork to upgrade the NEXRAD radar system to markedly improve rainfall estimates that will provide forecasters, emergency planners and water managers the critical information they need to mobilize, and to warn the public of imminent danger of flooding.
14. During the summer fire season, researchers are working to pinpoint areas of hot and windy conditions that indicate fire danger; that information would be invaluable to both firefighters and media outlets.
15. More refined forecasts also will allow transportation managers and trucking firms, for example, to route their drivers around the worst of a snowstorm, saving time and money and ensuring deliveries are made safely.
16. Air-safety officials are working with NOAA scientists to improve the ability of pilots and air- traffic controllers to identify and avoid clear-air turbulance and icing conditions as well as dangerous microbursts and other storm-produced hazards.
16a. NOAA also warns about solar radiation hazards for aircraft at high altitudes and along polar routes — even astronauts can be at risk. This is another realm of forecasting for NOAA scientists — space weather. Researchers and forecasters are striving for earlier warnings of magnetically charged clouds from the sun that can hobble high-tech systems here — and also cause the beautiful aurora, or Northern Lights.
17. The revolutionary changes in forecasting and climate prediction are made possible by utilizing numerical models and by properly distilling the massive amounts of data gathered through the use of new technologies and instruments developed by NOAA scientists.
12. Researchers are continuing to push the accuracy of weather forecasts and longer-term climatic predictions...
13. It is now possible, through greater knowledge and improved technology, to make weather forecasts five to seven days in advance with a high degree of accuracy. NOAA scientists are pushing the window of prediction even further, working to improve the accuracy of longer-term forecasts and to make possible prediction of dry or wet seasons, cold or hot spells, months in advance.
18. The way in which water systems interact with the Earth's atmosphere is key to understanding long and short-term weather and climate indications.
19. Slight variations in ocean temperature can have far-reaching consequences...
20. Fishermen along the coast of Ecuador and Peru have for generations referred to a recurring warm ocean current as El Niño, or "The Child," because it often reappears at Christmastime, with two to 10 years in-between episodes. These higher temperatures in the tropical Pacific have been linked to flooding in the southern United States and in South America, and droughts in Indonesia and Australia. Accurate predictions of El Niño events will result in savings of millions of dollars.
21. Activities such as farming, emergency planning, transportation and water resource management will greatly benefit from research that results in accurate, longer-term climate predictions. In response, NOAA researchers are issuing monthly and seasonal forecasts of sea- surface temperatures that signal El Niño events.
25. NOAA researchers continue to develop innovative tools to gather data on conditions in and above the oceans, and develop new uses for existing technologies, such as colossal over-the- horizon radar systems that were used for military purposes during the Cold War which now can map currents and surface winds over vast areas of ocean. Buoys are being developed and used to assist in navigation, and to measure and transmit ocean current and temperature data that are important to our understanding of the ocean-atmosphere connection, and to the prediction of both climate and weather.
35. NOAA maintains air sampling stations across the globe to monitor greenhouse gas levels that will indicate global warming conditions which, conceivably, could cause widespread coastal flooding and declining crop production. Researchers are generating state-of-the-art climate models to predict how the measured increases in greenhouse gases may affect the climate on Planet Earth on time scales of decades to centuries, and to help identify climate changes that are due to natural variability and those due to human activities.
32. The effect of human activities on the Earth's climate becomes more evident as investigators examine results of continuous, consistent data collection.
33. A healthy ozone layer in the upper atmosphere is known to protect us from the harmful effects of ultraviolet radiation, which is a cause of skin cancers.
34. Researchers at NOAA were among the first to describe the processes that cause the depletion of the ozone above the Earth. Scientists provided information to decisionmakers in the U.S. and other nations, who decided to restrict production of ozone-depleting chemicals. NOAA has also helped to guide industry efforts to develop ozone-friendly alternatives to the chlorofluorocarbons, or CFCs, and other gases that attack ozone molecules. Even as they provide the scientific foundation for international efforts to phase out these harmful chemicals, NOAA scientists are monitoring the ozone hole each year to track its recovery.
34a. Meanwhile, closer to the Earth, there can be too much ozone at ground level...smog. Excessive amounts of surface ozone can occur in both cities and in rural areas, threatening human health and crop production. NOAA scientists participated in a recent study in the southern United States to determine how ozone is formed and transported in that region -- information that is critical for states and counties trying to meet clean-air standards. Scientists also are measuring air quality to see what control strategies are or are not working in different communities. NOAA provides the science for policymakers to use to help ensure we have cleaner air without prohibitive economic costs.
23a. In vessels specifically outfitted for the new age of oceanic research and exploration, NOAA scientists are expanding our knowledge of the undersea world.
22a. After a series of earthquakes on the underwater volcano at Loihi off Hawaii, NOAA's National Undersea Research Program mobilized a submersible to study this phenomenon in detail. The dome of the volcano had collapsed, causing vast geological wreckage. Loihi will become a new island in the Hawaiian archipelago in approximately 50,000 years.
22. Undersea volcanic activity affects the heat and chemical makeup of the oceans. With new acoustic monitoring techniques, NOAA scientists can study these eruptions as they are active. They have found that the eruptions make significant contributions to ocean nutrients and also influence deep ocean circulation. Such discoveries will further the understanding of the ocean and its role in weather and climate.
26. As more and more people settle along the nation's coasts and oceans, the ramifications of development become increasingly evident. Local governments and communities have to face the effects of increasing pollution to our coastal waters.
27. In-depth research is now being conducted on the impact that human population growth has upon the health of coral reefs, beach erosion, and the fragile web of life that is supported by wetlands and estuaries.
28. NOAA has spearheaded a cooperative effort among communities, environmentalists, and commercial and recreational users to monitor the nation's waterways such as the Chesapeake Bay and the Great Lakes.
30. In a new program called "Lake Watch," citizen volunteers working with NOAA's Great Lakes programs routinely collect data and process samples to understand lake ecosystems, and help to assess lake health and longevity.
31. Studies are continuing in the Great Lakes on intruder species that are deposited by transport ships emptying their ballast water. NOAA researchers and scientists at Sea Grant Colleges are studying such species, to better understand the biology and ecological impact of these organisms. Such basic research may help to develop measures to control the populations of the invaders, thus helping to restore damaged ecosystems.
24. Overfishing has depleted fisheries in many parts of the world. Aquaculture techniques developed by NOAA-supported Sea Grant Colleges have cultivated new hybrids of fish species and have helped to replenish natural fisheries.
36. Through partnerships with researchers from universities, other agencies and foreign countries, NOAA's scientists will continue to strive to understand the forces that affect our world...
37. Experiments are under way to study how tropical waves off the African coast become hurricanes that threaten Caribbean Islands and the East Coast of the United States...
23b. In the emerging, advanced area of biotechnology, a partnership of NOAA and university scientists is conducting revolutionary experiments that may lead to the discovery of beneficial drugs and products derived from marine plants and animals.
39. Improving technologies will make possible small, precise automatic location devices that can be placed in ships, boats, planes -- even the family car -- and to combine these locators with increasingly precise weather forecasts to benefit commercial enterprise, law enforcement, emergency management, and the general public.
40. As we enter a new century, NOAA scientists and researchers
are prepared to lead the way as the vital mission of predicting and protecting
the environment becomes more important to both the economy and the quality of