This Earth Day, Explore How NOAA Science Is Informing Environmental Policy
April 22 is Earth Day, and here at NOAA we know a few things about Earth. This year, NOAA is celebrating the 50th anniversary of several conservation acts and also preparing to support the new America the Beautiful initiative which aims to preserve and conserve at least 30% of US land and water by 2030.
Having a better understanding of our changing ocean and the atmosphere is essential to take measures to create a real impact. Every day, the people at NOAA support and conduct research that helps inform policy and educate decision makers about the state of the Earth. This research goes into models that help improve weather and climate predictions, data products, like maps showing global ocean carbon, and international reports, like the annual State of the Climate report.
Here are three ways our science helps inform environmental policy:
Scientists have made this float biogeochemical Argo named Europa in 2021.
Identify changes thanks to observations and ocean data
NOAA’s Global Ocean Monitoring and Observing (GOMO) Program plays a vital role in NOAA’s ocean research, supporting more than one million ocean observations daily. These observations and data come from a variety of tools and instruments, such as Argo floats, drifting buoys, gliders, moored buoys and research cruises. With more than two decades of data and a current fleet of around 4,000 robotic floats, the Argo program has provided a baseline of upper ocean temperature and salinity measurements – nearly four times as much information on the ocean than all the others combined observation tools. Every year, around 500 scientific papers are published using Argo data, when this research makes news, policy makers can take notice. In a 2020 paper published in Nature Climate Change, NOAA scientist Gregory Johnson and his colleague found that over the past 52 years, ocean warming trends eclipse cooling trends. “Ocean warming is closely linked to increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, so global trends in ocean temperature are an important yardstick for measuring climate change,” Johnson said. . Specifically, warming oceans are impacting marine ecosystems, fish populations, coral reef health – which can also impact the seafood and tourism industries. A better understanding of ocean trends like this can also help identify appropriate solutions.
Found at 1,875 meters (6,150 feet) on the slopes of Mount Davidson in Davidson Seamount 2006: expedition of exploration old Coral Gardens, this unidentified anemone resembles a Venus flytrap. Courtesy of NOAA / MBARI.
The Ocean Exploration informs ocean protection
For more than 20 years, NOAA Ocean Exploration has collected critical data from the ocean’s surface to its bottom – information that has been used in conservation decisions surrounding some of our nation’s most important marine ecosystems.
For example, expeditions supported by NOAA Ocean Exploration in the early 2000s found that Seamount Davidson, an underwater mountain habitat off the coast of central California, was home to large coral forests, vast fields of sponges, crabs, deep sea fish, shrimp, basket stars and a large number of rare and unidentified species. This vast range of biodiversity illustrates the need to protect seamounts, and in 2008 the boundary of the National Marine Sanctuary Monterey Bay was expanded to protect this fascinating and important habitat.
Learn about the wonders NOAA Ocean Exploration has discovered in the deep sea – and how their work is being used in conservation efforts.
Research on Methane contributes to the development of a policy on landfills
A 2018 study by NOAA’s Lab Air Resources and partners looked at methane emissions in the Washington, DC-Baltimore, MD region and found that landfills in Maryland were emitting more methane than is known. thought. The study’s lead researcher, Xinrong Ren, shared the study’s findings with the Maryland Department of Environment, and Maryland has begun making policy changes regarding landfills. . Learn more about Atmospheric Research NOAA ARL.
Is NOAA’s research finding more ways to help answer big questions about our environment? Check out our Earth Day coverage of 2021, 2020, and 2019. And learn how NOAA is investing in our planet — and how you can get involved this Earth Day — from NOAA.gov.