The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) was established in October 1970, under the Department of Commerce.
In a statement to Congress, in July 1970, President Nixon proposed creating NOAA to serve a national need "for better protection of life and property from natural hazards . . . for a better understanding of the total environment . . . [and] for exploration and development leading to the intelligent use of our marine resources."
NOAA is an important part of the history of the United States and the development of its science and commercial infrastructure. There are many ancestor agencies of NOAA including the United States Coast Survey, founded in 1807, the United States Weather Bureau, founded in 1870, and the United States Commission of Fish and Fisheries, founded in 1871.
NOAA's beginings, which evolved into the National Ocean Service (NOS), began at the turn of the 19th century, when President Thomas Jefferson established the first science agency of the United States: the Survey of the Coast.
In 1878, the Survey of the Coast changed its name to the Coast and Geodetic Survey, to accurately reflect the role of geodesy in its mission. Today NOS still helps people find their position on the planet by managing the National Geodetic Survey (NGS), which specifies latitude, longitude, height, scale, gravity, and orientation throughout the United States.
In 1890, Congress transferred weather services from the Army to the new Department of Agriculture; the Weather Bureau, a new weather service and ancestor of NOAA's [National Weather Service], was born.
In 1895, the Weather Bureau published its first Washington, D.C., weather map, established the first hurricane warning service, in 1896, and began regular kite observations, in 1898.
The U.S. Commission of Fish and Fisheries, founded in 1871, was the nation's first federal conservation agency. It was started to protect, study, manage, and restore fish. Today it is known as NOAA's National Marine Fisheries Service, or NOAA Fisheries.
Along with the science that has developed in these organizations, they have also been great humanitarian agencies concerned with the saving of life both on our shores and within the interior of our country. Millions of passengers and trillions of tons of cargo have safely arrived on our shores while being guided by the charts of the Coast Survey and its descendant organizations.
American citizenís lives have been saved by the warnings of the Weather Bureau and its descendants. The fight to save our fisheries for future generations has been led by the Fish and Fisheries Commission.
NOAA has evolved into a scientific agency with conservation management and regulatory responsibilities. The personnel of these organizations have served in peace and war; worked in the remote and new frontier regions of our Nation; and have experienced rough seas, violent weather, hardships in accomplishing their mission of bringing our country reliable scientific information.