An informed society anticipating and responding
to climate and its impacts

Climate Adaptation and Mitigation
Long-term goal: Climate Adaptation and Mitigation
An informed society anticipating and responding to climate and its impacts

Projected future climate-related changes include increased global temperatures, melting sea ice and glaciers, rising sea levels, increased frequency of extreme precipitation events, acidification of the oceans, modifications of growing seasons, changes in storm frequency and intensity, air quality, alterations in species’ ranges and migration patterns, earlier snowmelt, increased drought, and altered river flow volumes. Impacts from these changes are regionally diverse, and affect numerous sectors related to water, energy, transportation, forestry, tourism, fisheries, agriculture, and human health. A changing climate will alter the distribution of water resources and exacerbate human impacts on fisheries and marine ecosystems, which will result in such problems as overfishing, habitat destruction, pollution, changes in species distributions, and excess nutrients in coastal waters. Increased sea levels are expected to amplify the effects of other coastal hazards as ecosystem changes increase invasions of non-native species and decrease biodiversity. The direct impact of climate change on commerce, transportation, and the economy is evidenced by retreating sea ice in the Arctic, which allows the northward expansion of commercial fisheries and provides increased access for oil and gas development, commerce, and tourism.

These changes already have profound implications for society, underscoring the need for scientific information to aid decision makers develop and evaluate options that mitigate the human causes of climate change and adapt to foreseeable climate impacts. While the Nation has made significant progress in understanding climate change and variability, more work is needed to identify causes and effects of these changes, produce accurate predictions, identify risks and vulnerabilities, and inform decision making. No single organization can accomplish these tasks alone. NOAA will advance this long-term goal of climate adaptation and mitigation as it builds upon a strong scientific foundation and decades of engagement with interagency, academic, and private sector partners to strengthen scientific understanding of climate; monitor changes in the atmosphere, oceans, and land; produce climate assessments; develop and deliver climate services at global and regional scales; and increase public knowledge of climate change and its impacts. Through its stewardship responsibilities and expertise, NOAA will improve its capacity to monitor, understand, and predict the impacts of a changing climate on weather patterns, water resources, and ocean and coastal ecosystems.

Objective: Improved scientific understanding of the changing climate system and its impacts
The need to advance understanding of the climate system and climate impacts, improve climate predictions and projections, and better inform adaptation and mitigation strategies is urgent. Key scientific uncertainties limit scientists’ ability to understand and predict changes in the climate system. This is particularly true for monthly-to-decadal timescales and at the regional and local levels for which scales are highly relevant to planning and decision making. Research on the connections between weather and climate, for instance, is necessary to understand how a changing climate may affect precipitation patterns and severe weather events, including hurricanes. On decadal-to-centennial timescales, research is needed to understand feedback between atmospheric greenhouse gases and the rate of global-to-regional climate impacts, such as changes in sea level, heat waves, droughts, and air and water quality. Adaptation and mitigation strategies must be informed by a solid scientific understanding of the climate system. Research is required to understand how changes in the global ocean circulation affect the climate system and their subsequent impacts on coastal regions, including sea level rise, ocean acidification, and living marine resources. Improved understanding of climate change and variability requires sustaining and advancing climate observation systems and platforms that monitor the state of the climate system. International, National, State, and local efforts to limit greenhouse gases require reliable information to support emissions verification, as do efforts to track climate changes and mitigate impacts.

To achieve this objective, NOAA will continue its world-class observation, monitoring, research, and modeling efforts, and increase efforts to close gaps in understanding the climate system and the role of humans within the system. This effort will require expanding and sustaining comprehensive, global- and regional-scale climate observing and monitoring networks that provide high-resolution information, and conducting and sponsoring fundamental physical, chemical, and biological research to discover new approaches and opportunities to understand the climate system, along with research to explore the effects of a changing climate on social and economic systems. NOAA will conduct and sponsor research on how climate variability and change affect different regions, particularly those especially vulnerable to climate impacts. This will require answering key questions that limit scientific understanding of the ocean’s role in climate (such as ocean variability, ocean circulation and heat content), atmospheric composition (clouds, aerosols, precipitation), ice sheets, global energy budget, biogeochemical cycles, and socio-economic parameters. NOAA must integrate this knowledge into models to improve predictive capabilities, and increase the number and quality of climate predictions through high-performance computing and modeling advancements. Actively engaging the external research community through competitive research programs will be vital to ensure NOAA’s successful realization of this objective.

Over the next five years, evidence of progress toward this objective will include:

– More comprehensive knowledge of greenhouse gases and other climate forcing agents;

– Climate observing systems are sustained and the state of the climate system is routinely monitored;

– Improved basis for confidence in understanding key oceanic, atmospheric, hydrologic, biogeochemical, and socioeconomic components of the climate system and impacts;

– Advances in climate modeling leading to improved scientific understanding and a new generation of climate predictions and projections on global to regional scales and from monthly to centennial time scales;

– Increased confidence in assessing and anticipating climate impacts; and

– Quantitative short- to long-term outlooks and projections of Arctic sea ice.

Objective: Assessments of current and future states of the climate system that identify potential impacts and inform science, service, and stewardship decisions
Stakeholders and the general public need a clear understanding of the best available science that describes the state of the climate and the likely impacts of climate change. Scientific assessments at the global, national, regional, and local levels integrate knowledge from many disciplines to provide decision makers with authoritative information on climate impacts, identify gaps in understanding, and help prioritize future research and service development efforts to fill those gaps. When pursued on a sustained basis, assessments build relationships between researchers and users and provide context for climate services that are developed and delivered by NOAA and others.

To achieve this objective, NOAA will play a lead role in international and national assessments that survey and summarize current scientific understanding about the causes and consequences of climate change and its impacts. NOAA will work closely with partner agencies and the external research community to ensure that these assessments are of the highest scientific quality. Internationally, this objective entails sustained contributions and leadership of scientific assessments, such as those of the IPCC and the international assessments of ozone layer depletion. Special attention will be given to generating state-of-the-art simulations of future climate conditions and ensuring model simulations and analyses are directed to inform assessments of impacts, mitigation and adaptation strategies, and vulnerability. This objective requires NOAA’s continued work to assess potential climate impacts in the United States. NOAA will develop high-resolution climate information to identify key vulnerabilities and inform the development of climate services that meet the needs of targeted audiences and better define and implement adaptive and mitigating management strategies. To supplement its own work, NOAA will rely on and support efforts undertaken by partners at other Agencies and research institutions around the world to understand economic, environmental, and social risks, and to communicate these findings. Through its stewardship responsibilities and expertise, NOAA will play a lead role with respect to assessing economic and environmental risks to ocean and coastal ecosystems, living marine resources, and air and water resources.

Over the next five years, evidence of progress toward this objective will include:

– Potential climate impacts and key international, national, and regional vulnerabilities are identified and inform the development of useful climate services;

– Model simulations and analyses inform IPCC assessments of climate impacts, adaptation, and vulnerabilities; and

– National and regional assessments address particular needs of NOAA’s unique stewardship responsibilities for ocean and coastal ecosystems, living marine resources, and water resources.

Objective: Mitigation and adaptation efforts supported by sustained, reliable, and timely climate services
Human-induced changes in Earth’s climate, as well as natural climate variability, complicate the ability to effectively plan for the future, manage resources, support national and food security, meet international and other intergovernmental agreements, and sustainably develop the economy. Resource managers, Governments, public and private businesses and organizations recognize that a changing climate complicates their ability to achieve their goals. Existing information is not readily available to those who need it or formatted in a way that makes it easy to use. The Nation needs a comprehensive, authoritative, and coordinated source of climate information to support adaptation and mitigation strategies and to incorporate into risk and vulnerability assessments and related decision-making processes.

To achieve this objective, NOAA will build upon its strong scientific foundation and internal and external partnerships to develop and deliver climate services. These services will include up-to-date descriptions of the state of the climate; regional information derived from global climate models; useful predictions of likely climate impacts; and the timely delivery of climate information, short-term and long-term forecasts, and early warnings. These products will be accompanied by services that help decision makers use climate information, model outcomes, and understand the associated uncertainties. NOAA’s initial service development efforts will focus on producing climate predictions, information, and ecosystem impact assessments for the water, coastal, and living marine resources sectors, including improved sea level rise and ocean acidification monitoring, predictions, and information on related ecosystem and infrastructure impacts. Over time, NOAA will also develop and improve similar services for other sectors, such as health, traditional and renewable energy, agriculture, transportation, terrestrial resources, tourism, and national security. Developing services that meet these diverse needs will require increased coordination and collaboration across NOAA and with other Federal Agencies, governments, academia, non-governmental organizations, and the private sector. To ensure that a diverse community of customers can access and use NOAA’s data products and information services, NOAA will produce new and improved data management and access systems — including the NOAA Climate Services (NCS) Portal — that enhance the communication and dissemination of climate information and products.

Over the next five years, evidence of progress toward this objective will include:

– National, State, local, and tribal governments and water resource managers are better able to prepare for, adapt, and respond to drought and flooding, and can more confidently manage water resources;

– Coastal resource managers incorporate a greater understanding of the risks of sea level rise, changes in Great Lakes hydrology and water levels, and other climate impacts to reduce the vulnerability of coastal communities and ecosystem resources;

– Living marine resource managers prepare for and respond to the impacts of a changing climate, ocean acidification, and other climate impacts, and develop management strategies for marine ecosystem conditions;

– Decision makers prepare for and adapt to climate extremes, including deviations in temperatures and precipitation patterns; and

– Policy makers have the information and understanding they need to implement and manage options that mitigate climate change.

Objective: A climate-literate public that understands its vulnerabilities to a changing climate and makes informed decisions
The success or failure of climate adaptation and mitigation in the United States and around the world will depend on the ability of leaders, organizations, institutions, and the public to understand the challenges and opportunities climate change presents. The routine incorporation of climate information into decisions requires an awareness of how a changing climate may affect individuals, families, businesses, and communities. A society educated about climate change and actively engaged in dialogue about its causes and effects will better address today’s problems and plan for tomorrow.

To achieve this objective, NOAA will work with diverse internal and external partners in academia and elsewhere to increase understanding of the likely impacts of climate variability and change through investments in climate awareness efforts, capacity building, education, and outreach. NOAA will engage stakeholders at multiple levels, foster community dialogue, and educate citizens and students both formally and informally. Engagement efforts will be highly adapted to meet the needs of various segments of society. NOAA will work to ensure continuous and sustained dialogue among partners in order to understand capabilities and identify climate-related risks that are of the most urgent concern to decision makers and the public. This engagement will help NOAA understand how user needs for climate services are changing, how users perceive climate risks and uncertainty, and consequently, how to design future climate products and services. In addition to data and products, the NCS Portal will offer a broad array of climate communications and educational materials that stem from NOAA’s climate research, observations, modeling, and services.

Over the next five years, evidence of progress toward this objective will include:

– Key segments of society understand climate risks and use that knowledge to increase resilience to likely climate impacts;

– Consumers of climate information understand the strengths and limitations of climate information and utilize this knowledge in their decision making processes;

– Educators and other outreach professionals increase comprehension and use of climate science concepts and education resources; and

– NOAA is better able to identify and monitor stakeholder needs and refine its information products to enhance their value and meet evolving needs.

NOAA Partnerships for Climate Adaptation and Mitigation
NOAA fulfills a key role in an international global climate enterprise that already has made significant progress in understanding climate variability and change. NOAA is a national leader on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and, at the Federal level works with the Interagency Climate Change Adaptation Task Force and the U.S. Global Change Research Program. Recipients of NOAA’s climate science and services include the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Agencies within the U.S. Departments of Energy, State, Agriculture (USDA), Transportation (DOT), Interior (DOI), Health and Human Services, Homeland Security (DHS), and Defense (DOD). NOAA also partners with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to develop satellite technology that detects climate trends. Sustained partnerships among Federal Agencies, international, State, local and tribal governments, academia, non-governmental organizations, and the private sector are required to observe and monitor the climate system; improve scientific understanding; produce more useful climate predictions; identify climate risks and vulnerabilities; deliver climate-relevant information for decision making; and better inform society about climate variability, change, and their impacts. Through its stewardship responsibilities and expertise, NOAA will focus its collaboration activities on the impacts of a changing climate on the Nation’s ocean and coastal ecosystems, which include living marine resources, salt and freshwater resources, as well as coastal communities.

Society is prepared for and responds to weather-related events

Weather-Ready Nation
Long-term goal: Weather-Ready Nation
Society is prepared for and responds to weather-related events.

A weather-ready nation is a society that is able to prepare for and respond to environmental events that affect safety, health, the environment, economy, and homeland security. Urbanization and a growing population increasingly put people and businesses at greater risk to the impacts of weather, water, and climate-related hazards. NOAA’s capacity to provide relevant information can help create a society that is more adaptive to its environment; experiences fewer disruptions, dislocation, and injuries; and that operates a more efficient economy.

Over the long-term, climate change may increase the intensity and even the frequency of adverse weather events, which range from drought and floods, to wildfires, heat waves, storms, and hurricanes. Changing weather, water, and climate conditions affect the economic vitality of communities and commercial industries, including the energy, transportation, and agriculture sectors. Environmental information aligned with user needs will become ever more critical to the safety and well-being of those exposed to sudden or prolonged hazards and is essential to sustain competitive advantage, expand economic growth, and to secure the Nation. All of the objectives within the Weather-ready Nation goal are highly dependent on progress toward the objectives under the Climate Adaptation and Mitigation goal. Likewise, progress toward this goal will benefit many of the objectives of the Healthy Oceans and Resilient Coastal Communities and Economies goals, and vice versa.

Essential components of a weather-ready nation are integrated, impact-based information and decision-support services so that citizens, businesses, communities, governments, and first responders are prepared, ready to act, and able to minimize risk. Impact-based information means NOAA understands the information needed, how it will be used to make decisions, and the value such information brings to minimizing risk and impact.

Objective: Reduced loss of life, property, and disruption from high-impact events
Increasing the use of weather-related information by making it more relevant to citizens, businesses, and Government can reduce the impact of weather-related events on lives and livelihoods.

To achieve this objective, NOAA will focus its efforts on service, which will require a deeper understanding of user needs through continuous user engagement; alignment of products, services, research, and development to user needs; and an improved capacity to monitor and evaluate service performance and outcomes. Specifically, NOAA will provide forecasts and information that compare weather risk to user-defined risk tolerance and redefine warnings to be applicable to a broad range of high-impact events. This is especially important in densely populated urban areas where cities impact and are impacted by weather and climate events. Cities increase heat stress, exacerbate poor air quality, increase flood hazards, alter precipitation patterns, and are responsible for greenhouse gas emissions. In collaboration with its partners, NOAA will provide direct, interpretive support to public sector officials and emergency responders, and expand environmental education and weather safety programs. Key science and technology needs to achieve this objective include improving forecasts of hurricanes, severe weather, space weather, fire weather, and greater knowledge of the weather-climate linkage. Other needs include a better understanding of human behavior and decision-making during weather-related events and the formulation and communication of forecast uncertainty, or forecast confidence. Improving forecast and decision-support tools, NOAA Information Technology (IT) infrastructure, and data architecture (including the four-dimensional environmental information database known as the 4-D Cube, which is discussed further below) will ensure data and information are available, accessible, and timely.

Over the next five years, evidence of progress toward this objective will include:

– Fewer weather-related fatalities;

– Improved community preparedness leading to fewer weather-related fatalities; and

– Avoidance of economic loss from property damage and unnecessary evacuations.

Objective: Improved freshwater resource management
Managing freshwater quantity and quality is one of the most significant challenges the U.S. must address in the 21st century. Demands for water continue to escalate, driven by agricultural, energy, commercial, and residential usage, particularly in urban areas. Sustained growth requires viable long-term municipal water supplies and, by extension, sophisticated predictions and management practices. The Nation’s water resource managers need new and better integrated information to manage limited or excessive water supplies more proactively and effectively in a changing and uncertain environment. Working with core partners — the USGS and the USACE — NOAA will integrate and extend its water prediction capabilities to provide information and forecasts for a full suite of water services. NOAA will improve its outreach to resource managers to improve their understanding and application of models and forecasts as they make decisions and manage risk. Interrelated to NOAA’s objective to improve coastal water quality in the Resilient Coastal Communities and Economies goal, this objective applies to all coastal and inland waterways and addresses challenges associated with too much, not enough, or poor quality water.

To achieve this objective, NOAA and its partners will enhance the integration and utility of water services by developing integrated decision-support tools for water resource managers based on high resolution summit-to-sea data and information. NOAA will expand water services by providing forecasts for such parameters as water quality, flow, temperature, dissolved oxygen content, and soil moisture conditions for inland and coastal watersheds. Improved and expanded water services will require new technologies to increase information access and dissemination, as well as research and development to advance understanding of precipitation, temperature, evaporation and other hydrologic processes in an Earth system framework. NOAA will improve modeling and prediction capabilities by implementing high-resolution hydrologic and hydraulic models, integrating long-range weather and water forecasting, and improving the confidence of hydrologic forecasts. Critical to NOAA’s success will be the ability to expand river, surface, and remote observations, and leverage the observations of partners.

Over the next five years, evidence of progress toward this objective will include:

– Avoidance of economic loss and property damage from flooding as a result of impact-based decision support;

– More efficient and effective management of municipal water supplies using integrated water forecasts; and

– Economic benefits from increased efficiencies in water usage in the transportation, hydropower, and agriculture sectors.

Objective: Improved transportation efficiency and safety
The transportation sector is critical to our society and uniquely sensitive to weather, making it a key component to achieve a weather-ready nation. Weather accounts for approximately 70 percent of all air traffic delays within the U.S., costing billions of dollars to the Nation’s economy. Winter storms can cripple surface transportation networks for days at a time and are hazardous to drivers. Hurricanes and storms at sea and on the Great Lakes disrupt marine transportation, causing delays, loss of cargo, and lives. Volcanic ash can cause widespread flight cancellations. In partnership with local and State government as well as other Federal Agencies, NOAA will enhance data and services to minimize the impacts of weather-related events on the national transportation system. Progress toward this objective is interrelated to the objective to provide safe, efficient and environmentally sound marine transportation in the Resilient Coastal Communities and Economies goal.

To achieve this objective, NOAA will improve engagement with transportation user communities in the aviation, surface, and marine transportation sectors to gain a better understanding of their needs and integrate that knowledge into improved weather-related products and services that support safety, mobility, and efficiency. NOAA will improve access to and interoperability of weather data to better integrate with decision-support systems and increase the scope of available data by integrating observations from road, marine, aircraft, and other sources, while improving data in such remote areas as the Arctic. NOAA will develop and deploy a four-dimensional environmental database known as the 4-D Cube, which will enhance decision-support systems by offering consistent information at high temporal resolutions. Information will be available and usable in real-time, enabling two-way information-sharing. While the 4-D Cube will be applied initially in the aviation industry, it will ultimately benefit all commercial sectors that require environmental information. This objective requires better forecasts of low clouds, fog, turbulence, visibilities, and precipitation type and duration, as well as improved methods to formulate and communicate forecast confidence. Modeling enhancements will improve storm prediction accuracy, coastal wave modeling, and space weather prediction.

Over the next five years, evidence of progress toward this objective will include:

– Fewer aviation delays due to weather-related events;

– Reduced grounding or sinking of cargo vessels due to weather-related events; and

– A reduction in transportation fatalities and economic losses due to weather-related events.

Objective: Healthy people and communities due to improved air and water quality services
Poor air quality causes people to suffer from chronic respiratory illnesses and is responsible for up to 60,000 premature deaths in the U.S. each year, while access to clean, safe water is a growing concern for communities and ecosystems. Our rivers and estuaries — and the species living in them — are affected by changing water temperatures and increases in salinity, nutrients, and other pollutants. Such pollutants impact fish and shellfish populations and lead to harmful algal blooms, expansive dead zones, and increased incidence of human illness. NOAA is in a unique position to combine predictive weather information with its understanding of water, climate, oceans, and coasts to develop integrated environmental predictions and analyses that can improve the health of ecosystems and communities. This objective is closely linked with the objective to improve coastal water quality in the Resilient Coastal Communities and Economies goal, but is broader in scope as it includes water quality for inland waterways. Many of the same activities and requirements will help to achieve both objectives.

To achieve this objective, NOAA will develop and deploy a suite of integrated, nationwide health- and ecosystem-based weather, water, and climate services to address regional and urban needs. Critical to the success of this objective will be partnerships with public health officials, educators, and the media to help inform and educate people on the dangers of poor air and water quality. Key requirements include high-resolution ozone, smoke, dust, and other particulate matter forecasts; data on extreme temperatures; and expanded predictive capabilities that include water quality. The ability to predict water quality will allow resource managers and public health officials to plan better and minimize risk to the environment and to people who rely on coasts, rivers, lakes and estuaries for recreation and commercial activities. Enabling this objective are strong, collaborative partnerships with local, State, tribal, and national health, water, and environmental managers. NOAA scientists and partners will conduct research and develop health- and ecological-based predictions, scenarios, and projections for multiple time and space scales. Observations will be expanded in partnership with public health agencies to support environmental monitoring. NOAA will improve modeling and prediction capabilities within an Earth system framework for air and water quality and initiate development of an ecological forecasting system, coupling air, land, water, and sea with biological, geological, chemical, and ecosystem processes. A key use of this data will be to inform national environmental planning policies.

Over the next five years, evidence of progress toward this objective will include:

– Improved information on the linkages among human health, weather, water and climate for decision makers;

– Fewer adverse health impacts attributable to air pollution; and

– Positive economic and ecological impacts from improved water quality forecasts.

Objective: A more productive and efficient economy through environmental information relevant to key sectors of the U.S. economy
The capacity to increase renewable energy generation, which is fundamental to economic security and sustainable development, is based in part on the ability to predict and harness precipitation, wind, and cloud patterns. Burgeoning renewable energy industries need more accurate resource assessments with better observations tailored to sources such as wind profiles over sea and land, solar irradiance and cloud cover measurement, as well as forecasts that support load balancing and energy supply planning on hourly, daily, weekly, seasonal, and interannual scales. Geomagnetic storms and other space weather phenomena affect electrical grid stability as well as satellite communications. Weather events impact health services both through effects on the healthcare delivery infrastructure and through direct impacts of weather on human health — especially on sensitive populations. The productivity of U.S. agriculture requires weather, water, and climate information over a wide range of time and space scales. Timely and accurate weather, climate, and water information and forecasts can make a significant contribution to a secure and reliable infrastructure for energy, communications, health care, and agriculture.

To achieve this objective, NOAA will develop integrated environmental information services for the unique needs of weather-sensitive sectors, including solar, wind, and oceanic. NOAA will develop information that is critical to the development, production, and transmission of renewable energy; forecasts and warnings of space weather and geomagnetic storms that are within the accuracy and confidence levels required for decision making; improved understanding of how to use NOAA information to mitigate health sector impacts; and enhanced modeling and prediction capabilities needed to address global food supply and security challenges. Through partnerships with other Federal agencies; the UN; and energy, communication, health services, and agriculture industries, NOAA will support sector-specific planning and decision making with environmental information. NOAA’s partnership with America’s weather and climate industry enables the Agency to provide information relevant to key sectors of the economy and rely on market forces to develop decision tools and other specialized services for the specific companies, farms, hospitals, etc. that compose these sectors. Key components of the objective require improved long-range forecasting and regional downscaling; increased accuracy of space weather models, predictions, and forecasts; expanded ability to observe, understand, and model planetary boundary layer processes (especially in complex terrain and offshore); and accessible, real-time environmental data and information.

Over the next five years, evidence of progress toward this objective will include:

– Production gains in renewable energy through better information;

– Mitigated economic loss due to advanced warning of geomagnetic storms;

– Health sector efficiencies due to improved use of weather, water, and climate information;

– An integrated suite of information targeted to food security needs; and

– Growth of America’s weather and climate industry.

NOAA Partnerships for a Weather-Ready Nation
Achieving a weather-ready nation requires the work of NOAA, and the combined efforts of numerous public, private, and academic partners. The dissemination, communication, and validation of NOAA forecasts and warnings depend on the media, the emergency management community, and the U.S. weather and climate industry. NOAA views this diverse and growing industry of companies, media outlets, and others that create weather programming, provide consulting services, and deliver information to American society as a key strategic partner, which provides valuable services to many businesses while also being an important economic sector in its own right.NOAA will work closely with local, State, and national emergency managers and other Government Agencies to understand better the information they need to assess risk and make decisions. This will lead to more integrated, usable, and relevant information and services. NOAA must strengthen relationships with many existing partners and develop new relationships that enable better integration of information into emerging areas that have economic, environmental, and health impacts. Examples of long-standing partnerships include other Department of Commerce (DOC) Agencies; DHS; the Federal Emergency Management Agency; DOT; DOD; the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS); the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE); NASA; and numerous regional, State and local Agencies. NOAA’s collaboration and partnership does not stop at U.S. borders. NOAA will continue to foster global collaboration, working through the United Nations (UN) process and international agreements. Global cooperation on observations, data exchange, modeling, research, and development is essential to NOAA’s continued and future success.

Marine fisheries, habitats, and biodiversity sustained within healthy and productive ecosystems

Healthy Oceans
Long-term goal: Healthy Oceans
Marine fisheries, habitats, and biodiversity sustained within healthy and productive ecosystems

Ocean ecosystems provide many benefits to humans. They provide food and recreational opportunities, and they support economies. Yet the resources that our marine, coastal, and Great Lakes environments present to us are already stressed by human uses. Habitat changes have depleted fish and shellfish stocks, increased the number of species that are at-risk, and reduced biodiversity. Because humans are an integral part of the ecosystem, declines in ecosystem functioning and quality directly impact human health and well-being. As long-term environmental, climate, and population trends continue, global demands for seafood and energy, recreational use of aquatic environments, and other pressures on habitats and over-exploited species will increase as will concerns about the sustainability of ecosystems and safety of edible fish. Depleted fish stocks and declines in iconic species (such as killer whales, salmon, and sea turtles) result in lost opportunities for employment, economic growth, and recreation along the coasts. In addition, climate change impacts to the ocean, including sea level rise, acidification, and warming, will alter habitats and the relative abundance and distribution of species. Climate change poses serious risks to coastal and marine ecosystems productivity, which, in turn, affects recreational, economic, and conservation activities.

NOAA’s goal of healthy ocean ecosystems will ensure that ocean, estuarine, and related ecosystems — and the species that inhabit them — are vibrant and sustainable in the face of challenges. A strong understanding of these systems supports an ecosystem-based approach to management. The approach accounts for the complex connections among organisms (including humans); their physical, biotic, cultural, and economic environments; and the wide range of processes that control their dynamics. An ecosystem-based approach will assist policy makers to weigh trade-offs between alternative courses of action. By working toward the long-term sustainability of all species, NOAA will also help ensure for present and future generations that seafood is a safe, reliable, and affordable food source; that seafood harvest and production, recreational fishing opportunities, and non-consumptive uses of living marine resources continue to support vibrant coastal communities and economies; and that species of cultural and economic value can flourish.

Objective: Improved understanding of ecosystems to inform resource management decisions
Fully implementing ecosystem-based approaches to resource management requires ongoing scientific exploration in marine, coastal, and riverine systems, and increased understanding of the complex linkages among human, biological, and physical components of an ecosystem. Such understanding will allow decision makers to evaluate trade-offs between desired outcomes — including increased economic activity and long-term species viability—and to assess likely outcomes of different management approaches. The current understanding of many marine species, their links to other components of the ecosystems, and the benefits they provide to society is limited; in many instances, scientists have virtually no data. Adequate assessments have been performed for fewer than 60 percent of the key fish stocks and complexes, fewer than 25 percent of all protected species, and an even smaller percentage of the habitat upon which all of these species depend. In addition, it is not yet fully understood how complex ecosystems or individual species will respond either to a changing climate or available approaches to managing living marine resources. These management approaches themselves are the subject of active research. In order to preserve the wide range of benefits humans derive from healthy ecosystems, decision makers in fishery management, protected species recovery, habitat conservation, and coastal and marine spatial planning need information on individual species, the quantity and quality of habitat they occupy, the effects of human activities on ecosystem health and resilience, and the consequences of ecosystem condition on human populations.

To achieve this objective, NOAA will coordinate internal and external research on the linkages among biological, physical, and human components of marine, estuarine, and riverine ecosystems and the goods they provide. Key components include maintaining observation platforms to collect global, regional, and local ecosystem data and exploring innovative technologies such as genomics, ecosystem models, and alternative sampling techniques to improve the ability to accurately assess the status and health of living marine resources and the ecosystems on which they depend. Producing accurate status assessments for harvested, protected, and potentially at-risk species — based on enhanced, consistent, long-term observations — is a key component. Just as importantly, NOAA will work to enhance coordination and cooperation among scientists, policy makers, and stakeholders to ensure that information is understood and incorporated in management practices. NOAA also will support socioeconomic research and policy analyses to evaluate ecological and social outcomes of potential environmental and management changes, and will help partners develop ecosystem-based plans that include all aspects of the biological, social, and economic environment. NOAA will work to ensure that this information is used in transparent regulatory and policy decision-making frameworks, and that it is well-communicated to a wide range of stakeholder communities.

Over the next five years, evidence of progress toward this objective will include:

– Increased use of ecosystem information (such as Integrated Ecosystem Assessments) in natural resource decisions in marine, estuarine, Great Lake and riverine systems;

– Increased development and use of climate considerations in fishery and protected resource decisions and in coastal and marine spatial planning processes;

– Next-generation fish and protected resource stock assessments incorporating habitat, ecosystem, and climate information;

– Living marine resource managers using high-quality data to inform management plans and decisions;

– Increased understanding of the role of habitat in providing ecosystem services, supported by improved habitat assessments; and

– Increased use of social and economic indicators in the conservation and management decision making processes.

Objective: Recovered and healthy marine and coastal species
The wide range of human and natural impacts on marine, estuarine and diadromous (that is, fish that migrate between marine and freshwater habitats) species has led to listing of many of these species as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), with petitions to list additional species received every year. NOAA has statutory responsibility for such listed species as well as for most marine mammals under the Marine Mammal Protection Act. As human populations increase and the impacts of global climate change are realized, ensuring the recovery and long-term health of all these species is an important goal for the Nation. To ensure the sustainability and resilience of these species and the ecosystems that support them, NOAA, Federal, State, tribal and local agencies, non-governmental organizations, and industry require science-based policy guidance, economic incentive programs, and sound regulations and enforcement.

To achieve this objective, NOAA will improve its understanding of the status of listed and at-risk species and develop and implement robust recovery and conservation for those species listed and at-risk. Rigorous single-species and ecosystem assessments, as well as a stronger understanding of the impacts of changes on species’ status that are planned in this objective, will be a key component. Coupled with this information, NOAA will undertake efforts to effect robust listing decisions, and conduct consultations for listed and at-risk species, permitting processes, and similar regulatory efforts. NOAA will continue to work in strong partnership with other Federal, State, local and tribal agencies, non-governmental organizations, and stakeholder groups to ensure that recovery and conservation plans are robust, useful and implemented. The international dimensions of this objective require participation in international species management for anadromous fish (fish that live in the ocean mostly and breed in fresh water), and marine mammals. Together these efforts will ensure that iconic and at-risk species can flourish.

Over the next five years, evidence of progress toward this objective will include:

– Stabilized or increased abundance of species that are depleted, threatened, or endangered;

– Decreased bycatch of protected species; and

– Increased number of protected species with improving status.

Objective: Healthy habitats that sustain resilient and thriving marine resources and communities
Healthy marine, coastal, and riverine systems provide valuable habitats for the species that humans value for economic and non-economic uses. Humans use these places for renewal, for swimming, recreational fishing, and a host of other activities. And habitats provide the basis of many other ecosystem benefits, such as control of pests and pathogens, protection of coastal areas from storm damage, and nutrient cycling. Thoughtful and appropriate management of these areas is vital to ensuring that treasured locations maintain their value and ecosystem functioning remains intact in the face of human and natural changes to these systems. Healthy habitats are critical for sustaining healthy marine ecosystems. NOAA has broad habitat conservation responsibilities that include protecting and restoring essential fish habitat under the Magnuson-Stevens Fisheries Conservation and Management Act (MSA) and the critical habitat of species listed under the ESA. These requirements are intended to ensure that key habitats are identified, protected, and restored to support important species. However, in carrying out these and other conservation mandates, NOAA is not only sustaining healthy marine ecosystems, but also supporting other valuable ecosystem services. Recreational opportunities, stabilized shorelines, reduced erosion, and buffered impacts of hurricanes and flooding are all benefits of healthy habitats. NOAA will increase the scale and effectiveness of habitat conservation to improve marine, coastal, and riverine habitats and the ecosystem services they provide.

To achieve this objective, NOAA will apply robust habitat science to develop effective policy measures, strengthen collaboration among all NOAA programs engaged in habitat conservation, and enhance capacity to support conservation actions. NOAA and its partners will use rigorous assessments of habitat quantity, quality, and integrity to prioritize marine, coastal, and riverine habitats that support Federal trust species (that is, threatened or endangered species, interjurisdictional fish, marine mammals, and other species of concern) for conservation actions. NOAA will also focus protection and restoration efforts in key geographic areas. Measuring social and economic impacts of habitat conservation and restoration efforts will provide policy makers with key information to develop effective management plans. Working with NOAA’s own climate service information, as well as academic and Agency partners, NOAA will develop and implement habitat adaptation strategies to reduce the effects of a changing climate on habitat conditions. This will support fishery management, ecosystem, and recovery plans that incorporate appropriate habitat conservation measures, and will ensure financial and technical assistance for on-the-ground conservation projects.

Over the next five years, evidence of progress toward this objective will include:

– Increased protection and restoration of habitats to enhance vital ecosystem services;

– Habitat conservation targets and evaluation protocols set to focus and improve habitat protection and restoration actions in priority areas;

– Essential fish habitat designations that encompass key habitats as informed by habitat assessments;

– Increased use of partnerships, scientifically sound conservation measures, coastal and marine spatial planning, and regional ecosystem conservation approaches to protect and restore priority habitats; and

– Climate change impacts addressed in conservation actions to promote long-term habitat resilience and adaptation.

Objective: Sustainable fisheries and safe seafood for healthy populations and vibrant communities
Fisheries — both recreational and commercial — are one of the most visible ecosystem services marine environments provide. Americans are already the third largest consumer of seafood in the world and are global leaders in marine sport fishing. Beyond food and economic benefits from marine fisheries, the public health benefits of consuming safe seafood are increasingly recognized and documented. As human populations grow, demand on marine ecosystems to provide seafood and recreational opportunities will also increase. However, as domestic demand for safe seafood and recreation opportunities grow, these demands will far exceed domestic supply from wild stocks. This places a premium on effective management of natural fish stocks and development of ecologically sustainable aquaculture programs. NOAA’s legal responsibilities in this regard encompass management of more than 500 fish stocks or stock complexes under MSA. Currently, more stringent regulation, including reduced quotas and shortened fishing seasons, has become commonplace, limiting recreational and commercial fishing opportunities. Implementing management strategies that rebuild and manage fish stocks, maintain access to fisheries, and improve opportunities for aquaculture can build and sustain economically robust coastal communities and contribute to long-term food security for the Nation. An additional, often overlooked component of food security is reducing seafood-related health hazards, such as paralytic shellfish poisoning and industrial toxins in fished species. These hazards pose serious risks to humans, yet only a very small percentage of seafood in the United States is inspected for toxins and pathogens. Imported seafood — more than 80 percent of the seafood consumed in the United States — is typically inspected less frequently. Maintaining sustainable fisheries and safe marine-origin foods is a priority for NOAA.

To achieve this objective, NOAA will pursue science and policies to promote a suite of practices that ensure the long-term stability of wild stocks, support sound aquaculture programs, and improve seafood safety. Specifically, NOAA will continue ongoing work to eliminate overfishing, rebuild overfished stocks, and improve long-term economic stability of recreational and commercial fisheries. Rigorous ecosystem and single-species assessments will inform fisheries management plans and support long-term sustainability of stocks. Management efforts, such as catch-share programs, will be implemented with monitoring to evaluate their impact on stock status, while improved socio-economic data collection will allow managers to evaluate and improve the social sustainability of recreational and commercial fishery programs. NOAA will also work to strengthen the enforcement of fishery regulations concerning international imports and exports; support improving stock status; and in international species management programs, such as those for highly migratory species of fish and for fisheries in polar regions. Another key component of this objective is the development and implementation of a national aquaculture policy that provides information and guidance to implement ecologically and economically sustainable aquaculture programs. As part of this effort, NOAA will work with academic and industry partners to develop and improve best aquaculture practices, land- and ocean-based siting guidance, and alternative-feed technologies. Together these efforts will work toward the long-term abundance and sustainability of marine food sources. Finally, increased seafood inspection and developing health hazard warning systems will ensure that seafood consumers have safe and healthful food options.

Over the next five years, evidence of progress toward this objective will include:

– Improving trends in stocks categorized as overfished shown in increases in abundance;

– Reduced numbers of stocks subject to overfishing;

– Increased allowable catch levels as fish stocks reach rebuilt status;

– Decreased bycatch of target and non-target species;

– Expanded recreational and commercial fishing opportunities;

– Increased research focused on sustainable aquaculture activities;

– Increased numbers of aquaculture facilities that are ecologically sustainable;

– Increased proportion of inspected seafood; and

– Implementation of a national aquaculture policy and NOAA aquaculture priorities.

NOAA Partnerships for Healthy Oceans
Achieving healthy and sustainable ocean ecosystems will require strong coordination and integration across NOAA and with Federal, State, local, and tribal stakeholders. Collaboration with academic institutions, non-governmental organizations, Federal agencies, and NOAA’s operational and research programs will help to provide the scientific foundation for ocean resource management decisions and strengthen ecosystem science. Strong partnerships and enhanced coordination and cooperation among NOAA scientists, policymakers, the Fishery Management Councils, the commercial and recreational fishing industries, non-governmental organizations, coastal stewards, and academic centers will ensure a transparent and effective approach to manage ocean resources.

Coastal and Great Lakes communities that are environmentally and economically sustainable

Resilient Coastal Communities and Economies
Long-term goal: Resilient Coastal Communities and Economies
Coastal and Great Lakes communities that are environmentally and economically sustainable

The complex interdependence of ecosystems and economies will grow with increasing uses of land, marine, and coastal resources, resulting in particularly heavy economic and environmental pressures on the Nation’s coastal communities. Continued growth in coastal populations, economic expansion, and global trade will further increase the need for safe and efficient maritime transportation. Similarly, the Nation’s profound need for conventional and alternative energy presents many economic opportunities, but will also result in greater competition for ocean space, challenging our ability to make informed decisions that balance conflicting demands as well as economic and environmental considerations. At the same time, the interdependence of ecosystems and economies makes coastal and Great Lakes communities increasingly vulnerable to chronic — and potentially catastrophic — impacts of natural and human-induced hazards, including climate change, oil spills, harmful algal blooms and pathogen outbreaks, and severe weather hazards.

NOAA’s long-term coastal goal will invigorate coastal communities and economies, and lead to increased resiliency and productivity. Comprehensive planning will help protect coastal communities and resources from the impacts of hazards and land-based pollution to vulnerable ecosystems by addressing competing uses, improving water quality, and fostering integrated management for sustainable uses. Geospatial services will support communities, navigation, and economic efficiency with accurate, useful characterizations, charts and maps, assessments, tools, and methods. Coastal decision makers will have the capacity to adaptively manage coastal communities and ecosystems with the best natural and social science available.

Objective: Resilient coastal communities that can adapt to the impacts of hazards and climate change
Coastal communities contain over one half of the U.S. population, generate nearly 60 percent of U.S. economic output, and account for hundreds of millions of dollars in flood loss claims. Their vulnerability to coastal hazards increases with growing populations, declining coastal ecosystems, and changing climate conditions. The Nation’s coastal communities need to improve their capacity for resilience in order to absorb impacts while maintaining an acceptable level of functioning, need to reduce the amount of time and resources required to return to full-functioning, and to adapt to future risks by learning from past disasters and adopting risk-reduction measures. Reducing vulnerabilities depends on healthy coastal economies proactively adapting to climate impacts, land use, conservation, hazard response, and recovery planning; maintaining sustainable and ecologically sound uses, such as commercial and recreational fisheries and seafood production efforts; mitigating chronic stressors; and on infrastructure decisions made at the Federal, regional, State, and local levels. Coastal decision makers require current science-based information, accurate tools and technology, and the skills to apply them to effectively reduce the vulnerabilities of their communities.

To achieve this objective, NOAA will develop and provide coastal decision makers with updated decision-support tools, technical assistance, training, and management strategies related to adaptation, risk communication, hazard response and recovery, and resource conservation. Spatially relevant and integrated data, including social and economic data, will be delivered to support risk analyses, mapping, scenario analyses, adaptation planning, and implementation. State-of-the-coast analyses and trend information on ecosystem status and valuation, along with community risk and vulnerability assessment methods and policy assistance, will be provided to support implementation of resilience adaptation strategies. Hydrodynamic models, forecasts, and visualization tools based on an improved geospatial framework will improve understanding of the impacts of coastal hazards and climate impacts on livelihoods and ecosystem services. NOAA will continue to work with partners to acquire, protect, and restore habitat, biodiversity, and ecosystem services to support the resilience of both ecosystems and the built environment. NOAA’s strong, collaborative partnerships with those responsible for improving management of coastal communities and ecosystems, and close coordination across NOAA — especially as relates to climate capabilities and capacities — will ensure that the science and data needed to achieve this critical objective are generated.

Over the next five years, evidence of progress toward this objective will include:

– An increase in the percentage of U.S. coastal States and territories demonstrating annual improvements in resilience to coastal and climate hazards;

– Appropriate science-based tools and information for assessing hazard risk, vulnerability, and resilience that coastal decision makers and community leaders can understand and use;

– Effective community plans and strategies that improve community readiness to cope with natural and human-induced coastal hazards; and

– Healthy natural habitats, biodiversity, and ecosystem services support local coastal economies and communities.

Objective: Comprehensive ocean and coastal planning and management
The Nation’s coastal zones have become busy places, with people living and recreating alongside a diverse and growing array of industries, such as commercial and recreational fishing and aquaculture, oil and natural gas production, and the production of renewable energy. While an increasing range of uses will allow coastal communities to create diverse economies, care must be taken to ensure continued access to coastal areas, sustained ecosystems, maintained cultural heritage, and limited cumulative impacts. A coastal and marine spatial planning framework is a comprehensive management approach that is designed to support sustainable uses and ensure healthy and resilient ocean and coastal ecosystems. Combined with its capacity to collaborate with State, territory, and Federal partners, NOAA’s expertise in ocean and coastal management and planning is needed to provide leadership and support for the development of regional and place-based spatial plans, as well as the data streams, research, and tools necessary for implementation. In some areas, NOAA and its partners collaboratively protect and manage critical coastal and ocean ecosystems.

To achieve this objective, NOAA will promote sustainable resource use and stewardship by continuing to implement key NOAA mandates, including the National Marine Sanctuaries Act, the Coastal Zone Management Act, MSA, and the National Sea Grant College Program Act, Coral Reef Conservation Act, and further its programmatic efforts to support coastal and marine spatial planning and management. Through these efforts, NOAA will balance the use of coastal and ocean resources with long-term planning and management of coastal and other unique marine conservation areas. NOAA will support institutional infrastructure needed to coordinate and facilitate the planning process, engage stakeholders, execute management actions, and enhance geospatial data and visualization tools. NOAA will require and sustain resource monitoring networks that are capable of integrating across spatial and temporal scales to determine the effectiveness of local management actions, and develop and disseminate models, tools, and best practices for long-term planning and management. NOAA will conduct social and economic studies needed to evaluate and improve the effectiveness of management decisions.

Over the next five years, evidence of progress toward this objective will include:

– National, regional, and local stakeholders engaged in the coastal and marine spatial planning process;

– Coastal and Great Lakes managers use of new or enhanced models, data, tools, and best practices for informed spatial planning, management and stewardship of resources and ecosystems;

– Key coastal, marine, and Great Lakes areas acquired or designated for long-term conservation and managed to maintain critical ecosystem function and support coastal economies;

– Predictable and transparent regulatory mechanisms for ocean and coastal energy, and other sectors; and

– An enhanced geospatial framework and data available to underpin decision-support tools.

Objective: Safe, efficient and environmentally sound marine transportation
The Marine Transportation System (MTS) spans ports and inland waterways across U.S. coastal waters and oceans to support commerce, recreation, and national security. MTS supports the Nation’s economy, with more than 77 percent by weight and 95 percent by volume of U.S. overseas trade carried by ship. By 2020, the value of domestic maritime freight is forecasted to nearly double. MTS is increasingly vulnerable to natural and human-caused disruptions that will potentially impact the viability of the economy. Increased maritime activity can stress sensitive marine and freshwater environments and increase the risk of maritime accidents. Improving the reliability and resilience of MTS will decrease risks to the economy and the environment.

To achieve this objective, NOAA will support operational decisions for oceans and coasts with such fundamental services as marine weather forecasts, nautical charts, surveying and mapping data, real-time oceanographic information, oceanographic predictions and forecasts, and an accurate national positioning framework. NOAA will bring science and search and rescue functions to bolster emergency preparedness and response to the MTS, helping to save lives and mitigate the environmental and economic impacts of hazardous incidents, including oil spills. To ensure efficient and environmentally sound operations throughout MTS, NOAA will continue to work with Federal, State, and local partners to boost technology and bring improvements to MTS products and services, reducing the hydrographic survey backlog in navigationally significant areas. NOAA will strengthen international partnerships to encourage the production and distribution of navigation information, and ensure that global standards and policies are consistent with U.S. interests.

Over the next five years, evidence of progress toward this objective will include:

– Reduced maritime incidents in U.S. waters through timely and accurate navigational information;

– Increased capacity in MTS to promote greater efficiency and economic growth;

– Improved national geospatial framework for increased accuracy of navigation products and services;

– Reduced hydrographic survey backlog in navigationally significant areas;

– Increased percentage of national ports with access to real-time navigation products and services; and

– Increased preparedness and response to maritime incidents and emergencies.

Objective: Improved coastal water quality supporting human health and coastal ecosystem services
Coastal communities in the U.S. and economies, including tourism, recreation, and commercial fisheries, rely on healthy coastal environments. Through work and recreation, more than 70 percent of the U.S. population comes into contact with coastal waters that can contain a diverse array of chemical contaminants, excessive nutrients, pathogens, biotoxins, and marine debris, which degrade habitat quality and negatively impact human health and the services provided by ecosystems in the coastal zone. Beach advisory days due to biological contamination have more than tripled, levels of contaminants in coastal waters have risen, and marine debris has become one of the most widespread pollution problems in the world’s oceans and waterways. More than 10 percent of coastal waters are considered unfit for designated uses, and more than 50 percent of the Nation’s estuaries experience hypoxia (that is, reduced dissolved oxygen content). In the face of these trends, State, tribal, and Federal partners need (1) coordinated efforts to address drivers of this degradation and reverse trends; and (2) early warning networks to identify and predict threats to human and ecosystem health, and to implement effective and timely management efforts.

To achieve this objective, NOAA will build upon its capabilities in assessing climate impacts to human health and ecosystem services, conserving habitat, and delivering integrated nationwide health and ecological decision-support services. Incorporating these scientific advancements, research will examine the transport and fate of chemicals, nutrients, sediments, pathogens, harmful algal blooms, toxins, and marine debris in waterways. Chemical and biological data, as well as economic and other social data, will be collected to expand coastal habitat characterizations. Marine and biological sensors will be developed to monitor, assess, and predict ecological and human health threats. Efforts to remove marine debris from coastal habitats will continue, and research will more clearly identify the damage marine debris causes to coastal economies and habitats. NOAA and its partners will develop, implement, and improve advanced water quality monitoring programs for nationally significant areas, trust resources, and coastal and Great Lakes areas to improve resource managers’ knowledge of ecological stressors, and to assess the efficacy of management decisions. Results of water quality monitoring and research activities will be provided to NOAA collaborators to further inform their development and refinement of nationwide early warning efforts, predictions, and ecological forecasts.

Over the next five years, evidence of progress toward this objective will include:

– Greater understanding of the effects of natural and human-induced contaminants on the health of humans and marine life;

– Reduced impacts to human health and ecosystem services due to degraded water quality;

– Faster detection of sediments and contaminants in coastal waters; and

– Accelerated recovery and restoration of coastal resources and revitalization of coastal communities through improved water quality.

Objective: Safe, environmentally sound Arctic access and resource management
No region better exemplifies the complex interdependence of communities and changing climate and ecosystem conditions than the Arctic. There is evidence of widespread, dramatic change in the Arctic region, with local to global implications. National security concerns are increasing as reductions in sea ice increase access to Arctic resources and opportunities for economic development and resource extraction. These economic drivers can further threaten ecosystems and Arctic inhabitants already impacted by the rapidly changing climate. The Arctic region needs accurate land and tidal elevations to build flood protections, harden infrastructure, ensure safe and efficient marine transportation, model storm surge, and monitor sea levels. The breadth and complexity of the cultural, societal, economic, and environmental impacts within this region requires a concerted, systematic and rapid management effort with partners from local to international levels.

To achieve this objective, NOAA will build on its other capabilities including climate data, marine weather, improved ecosystem understanding, and increased observing capacity to assist Arctic coastal communities in understanding and adapting to climate impacts, prepare for severe weather, and sustainably manage Arctic resources. NOAA will support the development of resilient Arctic coastal communities with mapping and charting services for safe navigation to and through the Arctic. Modernizing the Arctic geospatial framework will provide the foundation for many of NOAA’s activities in the region, including effective climate adaptation, community resilience, and coastal resource and marine spatial planning strategies. NOAA will support the Arctic region with accurate land and tidal elevations to monitor sea level and ice conditions. NOAA will bring to the region such essential services as accurate weather and navigation tools, capacity-building to respond to natural and human-induced coastal hazards, and research to improve Arctic oil spill response and restoration capabilities. Arctic communities will rely on NOAA for climate information to inform decisions for relocating communities, safeguarding human health, and conduct adaptive strategies. Throughout this effort, NOAA will engage domestic and international partners to promote cooperation and sharing of data, observational platforms, and intellectual resources.

Over the next five years, evidence of progress toward this objective will include:

– Reduced risk and impact of maritime incidents on the Arctic environment;

– Arctic communities and ecosystems prepared for climate change and weather events with adaptation strategies and plans;

– A stronger foundational geospatial framework to better support economic and community resilience and inform policy options and coastal management responses to the unique challenges in the region; and

– Increased international collaboration to strengthen NOAA and U.S. policy objectives in the region.

NOAA Partnerships for Resilient Coastal Communities and Economies
Resilient coastal communities and economies cannot be achieved without strong partnerships. NOAA will build on existing strategic partnerships in our coastal communities with other Federal Agencies (such as the U.S. Coast Guard) to help provide services to adapt to coastal hazards and provide safe conditions in the Arctic, the DOI to conserve and manage special marine and coastal places, and the EPA and USDA to improve coastal water quality and encourage smart growth. Comprehensive ocean and coastal planning also will require an unprecedented level of engagement and collaboration with state, local and tribal partners, as well as a wide range of stakeholders in the private and academic sectors. The complex and interdependent vulnerabilities that the coasts face will require enduring partnerships to help develop environmentally and economically sustainable community practices. NOAA, its strategic partners in coastal communities, and the Nation must have a shared understanding of the challenges to address so that the benefits, beauty, and heritage of coasts can be appreciated by current and future generations.