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The interesting reason why NOAA is a part of the U.S. Department of Commerce

Monday, October 3rd 2022, 5:12 am - On this day in weather history, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) was founded.

This Day In Weather History is a daily podcast by Chris Mei from The Weather Network, featuring stories about people, communities and events and how weather impacted them.


National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is an American agency that monitors oceanic and atmospheric conditions, forecasts weather, charts the sea, manages the protection of marine life and more. It operates under the United States Department of Commerce. Though NOAA is a result of multiple predecessors, it was officially formed on Saturday, Oct. 3, 1970.

President Richard Nixon wanted to create an agency that supported "better protection of life and property from natural hazards…for a better understanding of the total environment…[and] for exploration and development leading to the intelligent use of our marine resources".

1024px-NOAA WP-3D Orions *"Two NOAA WP-3D Orions." Courtesy of Wikipedia*

Nixon listed NOAA under the Department of Commerce instead of the Department of Interior because he was feuding with the interior secretary, Wally Hickel. They disagreed on Nixon administration's Vietnam War policy. Nixon disliked a letter Hickel wrote that urged him to cede to the Vietnam War demonstrators. So, Nixon punished Hickel and didn't give him NOAA.

NOAA emerged from previous organizations such as the United States Coast and Geodetic Survey, formed in 1807, the Weather Bureau of the United States, formed in 1870, and the Bureau of Commercial Fisheries, which was formed in 1871.

NOAA has six major line offices, including the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), the National Ocean Service (NOS), and the National Weather Service (NWS).

Since 2001, NOAA has led the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's working group to address climate science. In 2017, NOAA employed over 11,000 civilian employees.

800px-NOAA logo.svg *"National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration of the U.S. logo." Courtesy of Wikipedia*

In 1971, NOAA received its official emblem. "A white, gull-like form links the atmosphere to the sea or Earth. The Earth and atmosphere and the interrelationships between the two are, of course, major concerns of NOAA," said NOAA's first administrator, Dr. Robert White. "The line defining the top of the gull's wings also resemble the trough of a foaming ocean wave against the blue sky. A creature of sea, land, and air, the gull adds an ecological touch to the Earth-sky motif."

To learn more about NOAA, listen to today's episode of "This Day In Weather History."

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