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How are ocean observing data used?


NOAA Integrated Ocean Observing System Program

high frequency radar

High frequency radar systems, such as the one shown here, are used to measure ocean surface currents and are one component of the Integrated Ocean Observing System.

When it comes to monitoring our nation’s ocean, coasts, and Great Lakes, the Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS®) plays a key role. Composed of partners from federal, regional, private sector, and academic organizations, IOOS is a network of tools to track, predict, manage, adapt, and respond to changes in our marine environment in order to protect lives, property, and the environment.

There are thousands of tools – from satellites above Earth to sensors below the water – that continuously collect ocean and coastal data. IOOS connects these data. IOOS is expanding sources of data and increasing access to existing data to save users time and money. IOOS is also making data easier to use by adopting and adapting standards and protocols, such as whether temperature is recorded in Celsius or Fahrenheit, IOOS is making data easier to use.

Integrated ocean information is now available in near real time, as well as retrospectively. Easier and better access to this information is improving our ability to do many things, ranging from predicting severe weather and forecasting hazards to improving search and rescue efforts, monitoring water quality, making marine navigation safer and more efficient, and enhancing oil spill response.

NOAA began participating in the development of IOOS at its conception since its beginnings in the late 1990s. In 2007, NOAA stood up an official IOOS program and now leads national IOOS efforts.