National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration [NOAA] Law and Legal Definition

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is an agency within the United States Department of Commerce. It is a scientific agency that focuses on the conditions of the oceans and the atmosphere. NOAA was created in 1970. It formed a conglomeration of three existing agencies: the United States Coast and Geodetic Survey, the Weather Bureau, and the Bureau of Commercial Fisheries.

NOAA's vision is "an informed society that uses a comprehensive understanding of the role of the oceans, coasts, and atmosphere in the global ecosystem to make the best social and economic decisions." The agency’s mission is to understand and predict changes in the Earth's environment and conserve and manage coastal and marine resources to meet the nation's economic, social, and environmental needs. NOAA conducts research to improve understanding and stewardship of the environment. It also warns the nation of dangerous weather, charts seas and skies, and guides the use and protection of ocean and coastal resources.

The five fundamental activities of NOAA are:

1. With the aid of data collection networks, monitoring and observing earth systems.

2. Understanding and describing Earth systems by analyzing the scientific data.

3. Assessing and predicting the changes of these systems over time.

4. Circulating important information to public and partner organizations.

5. Managing resources for the progress of society, economy and environment.