CoastWatch Program, NESDIS, NOAA, U.S. Department of Commerce
Data Center Description
The CoastWatch mission is to provide and ensure timely access to near real-time satellite data to protect, restore, and manage U.S. coastal ocean resources, and understand climate variability and change to further enhance society's quality of life. Our primary users include Federal, State, and local marine scientists, coastal resource managers, and the general public.
CoastWatch was established in 1987 in response to two significant events. First, a Harmful Algal Bloom event off the coast of North Carolina where the Gulf Stream transported the toxic Gymnodinium breve cells from Florida into the colder coastal waters near Cape Lookout. The other was a severe mammal dieoff where more than 700 bottlenose dolphins died off the the mid-Atlantic coast. Both instances prompted Federal and State officials to explore additional data sources for monitoring the coastal waters, such as near real-time satellite data. CoastWatch started with only POES/AVHRR SST data for the East Coast but now provides a variety of data from several different platforms covering all U.S. coastal waters. Today, sea surface temperature maps help meteorologists predict weather and fishermen locate prime fishing areas. Biologists are using ocean color and chlorophyll -a products to predict harmful algal blooms, while sailors and commercial shipping pilots use ocean surface winds for navigation.
There are two components to CoastWatch: Central Operations and Regional Nodes. Central Operations, managed by NOAA's National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service (NESDIS), coordinates the processing, delivery, quality control and storage of data products. The six regional nodes are made up of other NOAA line offices that participate in the CoastWatch Program. They are located around the country, hosting equipment and personnel to provide near real-time data distribution and regional scientific expertise to the local user community. Together, central operations and the regional nodes provide for the distribution pathway for CoastWatch data products.