ORGANIZATIONS

What is the purpose of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)?

NOAA is an agency within the U.S. Department of Commerce that is responsible for monitoring conditions on land and in the seas that have an effect on our weather, climate, and environment. NOAA is, of course, heavily involved in atmospheric research and weather forecasting, but the agency also supports the responsible

The Lansing, Michigan, office of the U.S.Weather Bureau—shown in this circa 1900 photo—was once located at Michigan Agricultural College (now Michigan State University).The Weather Bureau was the forerunner of the National Weather Service. (NOAA)

The Lansing, Michigan, office of the U.S.Weather Bureau—shown in this circa 1900 photo—was once located at Michigan Agricultural College (now Michigan State University).The Weather Bureau was the forerunner of the National Weather Service. (NOAA)

management of fisheries, is concerned with marine commerce, and is involved in studies to prevent coastal erosion, among many other projects. In essence, NOAA is interested in fostering the economic and environmental health of the country, as well as the safety of its citizens, through scientific management of oceanic, coastal, and mainland resources.

What is the National Weather Service (NWS)?

Part of NOAA, the NWS was founded in 1870 as the National Weather Bureau; it was renamed the U.S. Weather Bureau in 1891, and became the National Weather Service in 1967. It focuses on providing the citizens of the United States with warnings about possibly dangerous storms and other weather events. The NWS has forecasting centers in 122 locations around the country, including U.S. territories like Guam, American Samoa, and Puerto Rico.

What is the National Weather Center (NWC)?

The NWC is a partnership between the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, state organizations, and the University of Oklahoma. It is a scientific endeavor to better understand the weather, especially on a macroscale involving long periods of time and all levels of the atmosphere.

What is the AMS Seal of Approval Program?

The AMS Seal of Approval is given to forecasters in the media who provide useful and accurate information about the weather. Part of the intention here is to recognize broadcast meteorologists who do more than just read National Weather Service copy on the air. The seal, therefore, is a service to audiences so that they may discern whether they are receiving their information from a certified professional, or simply from a news reader. A meteorologist may receive a seal either in radio or television broadcasting. They are eligible for the seal based on the quality of the information they provide, their professionalism, their demonstrated effort to continue their education in the field, and their participation as an AMS member. Their qualifications are reviewed by a certifying board committee. Finally, the seal is not bestowed permanently, but must be renewed annually.

What is the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR)?

Established by the National Academy of Sciences in 1956, the NCAR is based in Boulder, Colorado, and is staffed by (mostly) university scientists who use such tools as radar, airplanes, and supercomputers to help the scientific community better understand the many processes that affect weather. The goal is to increase cooperation between universities and draw on their combined resources in order to accomplish what a single university could not do on its own.

What are the National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP)?

Part of the National Weather Service, the National Centers for Environmental Prediction include the following centers:

• The Aviation Weather Center for monitoring weather conditions that could prove hazardous to airplane and space flights.

• The Climate Prediction Center is focused on how climate affects the country, as well as on short-term climate changes.

• The Environmental Monitoring Center is a research center studying ways to improve weather-related sciences, including climatology, hydrology, and ocean weather prediction.

• The Hydrometeorological Prediction Center provides rain forecasts for the upcoming week.

• The Ocean Prediction Center is responsible for issuing ocean weather warnings in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans north of the 30th degree parallel.

• The Space Weather Prediction Center warns of weather conditions on Earth and in space that could put space missions at risk.

The National Severe Storms Laboratory (NSSL) research facility in Norman, Oklahoma, is shown in this circa 1970 photo. (NOAA Photo Library, NOAA Central Library; OAR/ERL/National Severe Storms Laboratory)

The National Severe Storms Laboratory (NSSL) research facility in Norman, Oklahoma, is shown in this circa 1970 photo. (NOAA Photo Library, NOAA Central Library; OAR/ERL/National Severe Storms Laboratory)

• The Storm Prediction Center keeps a watchful eye on tornadoes, hurricanes, and other hazardous weather within the lower 48 U.S. states.

• The Tropical Prediction Center monitors tropical weather systems within the United States, as well as surrounding regions.

What does the American Meteorological Society (AMS) do?

The AMS is an organization of professionals, as well as amateurs, in the field of meteorology and atmospheric and oceanic sciences that is intended to foster communication, promote education, and share resources. Those without formal degrees in the field can still be members with the rank of Associate, and a Student membership level is also available to those still in school. The society, headquartered in Boston, Massachusetts, publishes periodicals and books, awards accomplishments in the field, and sponsors conferences and the Seal of Approval Program.

What is the National Severe Storms Laboratory (NSSL)?

The NSSL is NOAA's premier research laboratory. Located in Norman, Oklahoma, the NSSL is dedicated to researching and improving weather radar systems, severe weather forecasting, and the science of hydrometeorology.

What is the World Meteorological Organization (WMO)?

Because the weather is a matter of international concern affecting all the world's countries, the WMO is a highly valuable organization that promotes the sharing of meteorological data between nations. Formerly the International Meteorological Organization (est. 1873), the WMO was created in 1950; the next year, it came under the aegis of the United Nations. The WMO is interested in severe weather forecasting and in the impacts of human activities on the environment that affect the climate and weather.

What is the Space Weather Prediction Center (SWPC)?

Part of the National Weather Service, the SWPC monitors solar and geophysical events that can affect communications, power grids, artificial satellites, and navigational systems.

Is the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) involved in weather forecasting?

Since NASA is involved in implementing weather satellites, it obviously is very much involved in weather forecasting. NASA doesn't only concern itself with sending out manned and unmanned missions into the solar system and beyond; it also spends a lot of time observing the Earth. Weather and Earth science satellites gather information about changes in the climate, land use, and in our oceans.

 
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