Archive for the ‘Economy’ Category

What are the trade winds?

This item was filled under Basics, Economy, Facts, Maritime Transportation


Known to sailors around the world, the trade winds and associated ocean currents helped early sailing ships from European and African ports make their journeys to the Americas. Likewise, the trade winds also drive sailing vessels from the Americas toward Asia. Even now, commercial ships use "the trades" and the currents the winds produce to hasten their oceanic voyages.

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How are satellites used to observe the ocean?

This item was filled under Basics, Economy, Ecosystems, Facts, Health, Ocean Observations


Satellites are amazing tools for observing the Earth and the big blue ocean that covers more than 70 percent of our planet. By remotely sensing from their orbits high above the Earth, satellites provide us much more information than would be possible to obtain solely from the surface.

Using satellites, NOAA researchers closely study the ocean. Information gathered by satellites can tell us about ocean bathymetry, sea surface temperature, ocean color, coral reefs, and sea and lake ice. Scientists also use data collection systems on satellites to relay signals from transmitters on the ground to researchers in the field—used in applications such as measuring tidal heights and the migration of whales. Transmitters on satellites also relay position information from emergency beacons to help save lives when people are in distress on boats, airplanes, or in remote areas.

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Why do scientists measure sea surface temperature?

This item was filled under Basics, Economy, Facts, Ocean Observations, Ocean Science


Sea surface temperature provides fundamental information on the global climate system. Because the ocean covers 71 percent of Earth's surface, scientists record sea surface temperature (SST) to understand how the ocean communicates with Earth's atmosphere. SST provides fundamental information on the global climate system. SST is an essential parameter in weather prediction and atmospheric model simulations, and is also important for the study of marine ecosystems.

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What are beach advisories and beach closures?

This item was filled under Basics, Economy, Ecosystems, Facts, Health, Places


A beach advisory leaves it up to users as to whether they wish to risk going into the water. In the case of a beach closure, the state and/or local government decides that water conditions are unsafe for swimmers and other users.

How can beach-goers avoid the disappointment of arriving at their summer vacation destination only to find that authorities advise them not to swim there or that the beaches are closed altogether?

Unfortunately, there is no central database that provides information on beach closures and advisories in real time. The best way to find information on the current water quality of a particular beach is to plan ahead.

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What is an oil spill trajectory?



During the threat of an oil spill, responders need to know where that spilled oil will go in order to protect shorelines with containment boom, stage cleanup equipment, or close areas for fishing and boating. In order to answer these questions, NOAA oceanographers use specialized computer models to predict the movement of spilled oil on the water surface. They predict where the oil is most likely to go and how soon it may arrive there. During a major spill response, trajectory maps are created to show predictions for the path of spilled oil.

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What is GPS?



For thousands of years, humans found their way by looking to the sky. Sailors used the constellations, sun, and moon to navigate to distant shores. Today, all that's needed is a device called a GPS receiver. GPS stands for Global Positioning System, and it lets us know where we are and where we are going anywhere on Earth.

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What is the Great Loop?

This item was filled under Economy, Facts, Maritime Transportation, Places


The Great Loop is a continuous waterway that recreational mariners can travel that includes part of the Atlantic, Gulf Intracoastal Waterways, the Great Lakes, Canadian Heritage Canals, and the inland rivers of America's heartland. Anyone who completes the journey is then named an official 'Looper.'

For a safe and enjoyable trip, there are a few things to consider when traveling the Great Loop—a great amount of time, a boat with less than a five foot draft to travel inland waterways, NOAA nautical charts, and a NOAA radio. Along the way, it is possible to visit a number of national marine sanctuaries and estuarine research reserves.

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How does NOAA help clean up oil and chemical spills?


Just like we may need sponges, scrub brushes, and a disinfectant to expel a mess in our house or yard, emergency responders employ a variety of tools and techniques to remove oil and chemicals spilled in our rivers, bays, and oceans, and washed up on our shores.

For more than 30 years, NOAA's Office of Response and Restoration has played a leading role in the evolving science of hazardous materials (also known as "HAZMAT") spill response. Check out our collection of THREE infographics for a clear explanation of this always complex process.

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What is HAZMAT?

HAZMAT is an abbreviation for "hazardous materials."

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How do natural disasters contribute to marine debris?

The high winds, heavy rains, storm surge, and flooding associated with natural disasters can pull large structures and other articles into surrounding waters.

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