In the morning when I get on the elevator up to my office in GPO headquarters, when they aren’t talking about sports, everyone is chatting about the weather. My colleagues compare the day’s weather with previous years and talk about what’s coming in the days and seasons ahead. Since Washington, DC’s weather varies greatly throughout the year (even through the day!), people in this area are always taking the pulse of the outdoors and our world. In a similar vein, the Department of Commerce’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration or NOAA, the U.S. Government’s oldest scientific agency, is taking the pulse of the Earth, for our benefit.
Click here to “Explore NOAA” in this movie about the Nation’s oldest scientific agency.
You can be a NOAA-it-all with these FREE online resources
NOAA says that “Our reach goes from the surface of the sun to the depths of the ocean floor as we work to keep citizens informed of the changing environment around them.” As such, its mission is to understand and predict changes in climate, weather, oceans, and coasts, and to conserve and manage coastal and marine ecosystems and resources.
Once they’ve taken the Earth’s pulse, of course NOAA wants to share the output of their studies. The data the agency gathers when studying the Earth’s atmosphere and oceans is comprehensive, and it is a global leader in communicating how Earth’s atmosphere and water systems influence people’s lives and how they influence those systems. If you learn how to navigate the range of NOAA’s free online resources, including real-time and archived information, you will get the full benefit of this rich data.
NOAA educates and disseminates data from its many valuable services, including the National Marine Fisheries Service, the National Ocean Service, the National Weather Service and others. Their information comes packaged in videos, weather alerts, digital coastal charts, entire databases, atlases, podcasts, screensavers, sea sounds, field reports, tagging data, and an entire education Web site for teachers and kids. NOAA has resources for children that are as unique and valuable as their science.
Whether to Weather
For instance, NOAA’s Weather Systems and Patterns page has a multimedia, lessons and activities, real world data, background information and career profiles. A student who is interested in extreme weather can graph tornado air pressure in the lessons section, investigate the severe weather events page in the real world data, track a storm in the multimedia section, read the background on severe weather, and even flirt with future career possibilities in the career profile of the tornado chaser.
If the student wants to follow up with extra reading at home with advice for the whole family, Watch out– Storms Ahead! Owlie Skywarn’s Weather Book can help round out the lesson. Total immersion in a topic is possible without ever leaving the site.
Free resources for teachers and students is a bonus that teachers, parents, caregivers and students should take full advantage of, and NOAA’s Education Resources page is a just one prime example what the agency’s got on offer for the American people.
Coastal Maps and Navigational Charts
Another instance of NOAA’s rich resources is its coastal maps. NOAA’s Office of Coast Survey recently announced that they were no longer issuing printed U.S. Coastal maps; instead, they now make high-resolution Raster Navigational Charts for public use. The Office of Coast Survey offers over high quality, 400 dpi full-color digital images of NOAA’s entire suite of paper charts, for download and printing. Sailors, commercial fisherman, and anyone else interested can view and print these charts as well as the free demo software to use them; this is data of high commercial value available completely for free for the American people as well.
Note that up-to-date, printed US Government astronomical, air and nautical navigational charts and almanacs are still available from the US Government Bookstore under Transportation & Navigation > Almanacs & Navigation Guides.
Webinar on NOAA’s Free Online Resources
Librarians and Teachers: Attending tomorrow’s joint NOAA-GPO webinar, “Discover Your World With NOAA: Learn How NOAA Monitors the Pulse of the Earth, and How to Access and Use NOAA’s Free Online Resources” is a great way you can learn to reap the benefit of NOAA’s rich data offerings. Registration for this free training webinar is available now. It will be offered Wednesday, November 13 at 2 p.m. Eastern Time; GPO’s Library Services & Content Management Division (LSCM) will archive the session on the free GPO Webinar Archive for those who cannot attend. Hopefully you can make it to the live webinar or find some time to look at the archived webinar after it takes place.
NOAA’s Ark of Great Reads
In addition to attending the webinar, you can mine some of NOAA’s resources by reading some of these stellar NOAA publications:
How can I obtain these NOAA publications?
1) FOR THE PUBLIC
- Shop Online: You can purchase these publications from the U.S. Government Online Bookstore at http://bookstore.gpo.gov by clicking on the links above in this blog post or clicking here to shop our entire NOAA collection.
- Order by Phone: Call our Customer Contact Center Monday through Friday, 8 am to 5:30 pm Eastern (except US Federal holidays). From US and Canada, call toll-free 1.866.512.1800. DC or International customers call +1.202.512.1800.
- Shop our Retail Store: Buy a copy of any print editions from this collection at GPO’s retail bookstore at 710 North Capitol Street NW, Washington, DC 20401, open Monday–Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., except Federal holidays, Call (202) 512-0132 for information or to arrange in-store pick-up.
- Visit a Federal Depository Library: Search for one of these publications in a nearby Federal depository library.
2) FOR LIBRARIANS
About the author(s): Adapted by Government Book Talk Editor-in-Chief and the US Government Printing Office (GPO) Promotions & Ecommerce Manager, Michele Bartram, from an original blog post by Jennifer K. Davis from GPO’s Library Services & Content Management Division that supports the Federal Depository Libraries Program (FDLP).