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Ecosystems

Managing the ecosystems along our nation's coasts and offshore waters requires detailed observations that will not damage or change the environment being observed. It is possible to observe these critical resources without causing harm, by sensing them remotely from satellites, though our method does have limitations. Clouds and the atmosphere itself often obscure the coastal and oceanic scenes one is trying to see, and the images may not be as detailed as one would like, as the satellites are hundreds of miles above the water. Yet NOAA has successfully observed coastal resources with satellites for many years.

Our Office will have the capability to see rapid temperature changes on the sea surface from hour to hour, especially at oceanic fronts caused by currents, eddies, and upwelling of water. Geostationary satellite images are a natural source of data needed to track these rapid and fluctuating changes in water temperature. Such monitoring contributes directly to three NOAA goals: to Weather and Water, Ecosystems, and Climate. It also contributes secondarily to another NOAA goal in environmental prediction, which is to predict and assess decadal to centennial change.

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