The coastline of the United States and the ocean extending out to its exclusive economic areas are home to a wealth of natural resources. This narrow fringe comprising 17 percent of the contiguous U.S. land area is home to more than half of the nation’s population. Balancing industry needs, national priorities, and public goods requires careful observing of the Great Lakes, oceans, and coasts.
Ocean observations supply data that translates into direct safety, economic, and environmental benefits. They range from maritime and coastal zone applications to a broad range of much wider national benefits such as improving weather prediction and climate projection, forecasting hazards, and monitoring marine resources and water quality. Fully realizing these benefits depends on sustaining the U.S. Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS) and connecting to other domains of earth and atmospheric observations regionally, nationally, and globally.
Observing assets are shared and distributed regionally throughout the U.S. among industry, academia, and government (federal, state, local, and tribal). The Interagency Ocean Observation Committee was formed at the national level to implement specific management, procedural, and fiscal activities to ensure a sustained, efficient IOOS. Through executing specific legislative drivers outlined by the Integrated Coastal and Ocean Observing Act of 2009, the committee is helping serve seven critical and expanding societal needs:
- Improved predictions of climate change and weather, and their effects on coastal communities and the nation;
- Improved safety and efficiency of maritime operations;
- More effective mitigation of the effects of natural hazards;
- Improved national and homeland security;
- Reduced public health risks;
- More effective protection and restoration of healthy coastal ecosystems;
- Sustained use of ocean and coastal resources.