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Updated: 20 min 54 sec ago

Richard W. Spinrad confirmed to lead NOAA

Thu, 2021-06-17 16:16
Richard W. Spinrad confirmed to lead NOAA June 17, 2021

Richard (Rick) W. Spinrad, Ph.D., an internationally renowned scientist with four decades of ocean, atmosphere, and climate science and policy expertise, was confirmed by the U.S. Senate today as the under secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and the 11th NOAA administrator.

“As an accomplished and respected scientist, educator, communicator and executive, Rick has dedicated his career to the science that is at the core of NOAA’s mission,” said U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina M. Raimondo. “I am grateful for his ongoing public service to the agency and the nation, and I look forward to working alongside him as we tackle the climate crisis, conserve our oceans, and grow our blue economy.”

As NOAA Administrator, Spinrad – who has worked at NOAA previously – is responsible for the agency’s strategic direction and oversight of $7 billion in proposed FY22 annual spending, including advancing U.S. weather modeling and prediction, tackling the climate crisis, accelerating the application of new technologies for improved environmental observations, leveraging non-governmental and private partnerships, and promoting a sustainable blue economy.

“I am thrilled to be back and am ready to hit the ground running,” said Spinrad. “I am humbled to lead NOAA’s exceptional workforce on a mission so relevant to the daily lives of people across America and to the future health of our planet. And I will ensure that trust and scientific integrity will continue to be the foundation for all of our work.”

Building upon NOAA’s extensive mission, Spinrad intends to advance three overarching NOAA priorities:

  • Developing a full portfolio of environmental products and services in the context of our changing climate, and in coordination and cooperation with NOAA’s sister agencies, industry, academia, NGOs, and the philanthropic community, and ensuring these products and services are more accessible to underserved communities.
  • Building a balanced portfolio of programs and policies that both enhance environmental sustainability and foster economic development in areas such as climate products and services, the new blue economy, and sustainable fisheries.
  • Creating a more just, equitable, diverse, and inclusive workforce. NOAA employs scientists and technologists, and, perhaps even more impactfully, educates and trains future professionals. The scientific and technical workforce in the environmental and ecological fields in the U.S. must become more diverse.

Previous NOAA positions held by Spinrad include that of the Chief Scientist, Assistant Administrator for Research, and Assistant Administrator for Ocean Services and Coastal Zone Management. Prior to joining NOAA initially, he held positions with the U.S. Navy, including the Office of the Oceanographer of the Navy and the Office of Naval Research, and was the Executive Director for Research and Education at the non-profit Consortium for Oceanographic Research and Education. 

An author or coauthor of more than 70 scientific articles, papers, book chapters, and opinion pieces, Spinrad has also held professorships in academia and industry executive positions focusing on the ocean and environment.

Spinrad, 67, a native of New York City, earned a bachelor’s degree in earth and planetary sciences from the Johns Hopkins University, and earned a masters and a doctorate in oceanography from Oregon State University. He and his wife, Alanna, have an adult son.

Media contact

Scott Smullen,

Across NOAA NOAA Administrator 0

Homeland Security Program

Wed, 2021-06-16 15:39

The NOAA Homeland Security Program Office is assigned the responsibility for NOAA Headquarters’ plans, programs and policies for homeland security and execution of incident management. This responsibility strengthens the agency’s ability to prepare for, respond to, and recover from terrorist attacks, major disasters, and other emergencies by providing a unity of effort and the focal point of contact for NOAA leadership, Department of Commerce (DOC), the White House Homeland Security Council, Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and other interagency partners.

HSPO is responsible for:

  • Maintaining the NOAA Administrative Order (NAO 210-100): All Hazards Incident Management and all supplemental guidance ensuring NOAA compliance with the National Response Framework;
  • Ensuring all NOAA programs adhere to the policies and protocols in the NOAA All-Hazards Concept of Operations Handbook (CONOPS);
  • Coordinating and, under certain circumstances, directing in the Under Secretary's stead and through the proper chain of command, NOAA's efforts to prevent, prepare for, respond to, and recover from incidents of all hazards and all origins;
  • Acting as NOAA liaison with the Department of Homeland Security, and other federal agencies, and serves as the Under Secretary's principal adviser on issues relating to intelligence matters, terrorism, and homeland security-related emergencies; and
  • Acting on behalf of the Under Secretary, HSPO is responsible for evaluating NOAA's response to incidents looking for areas of improvement.

Links to federal homeland security sites and resources:

Wildfire season and fire weather: A resource guide for reporters and media

Wed, 2021-06-16 12:36
Wildfire season and fire weather: A resource guide for reporters and media June 16, 2021 The Bobcat Fire started in and around Angeles National Forest in California on September 6, 2020. As of October 5, 2020, the fire had burned through more than 115,000 acres. In this Inciweb photo, a helicopter flies over a portion of the fire to help extinguish it. More information and photos available at Inciweb, (Inciweb, Download Image

Fire managers and residents of the western U.S. will be on edge as a relentless drought and episodes of extreme heat — caused by short-term weather and longer-term climate change — increase the likelihood that natural or human-caused ignitions will bring a long wildfire season across the bone-dry landscape. 

NOAA plays a vital role supporting federal, state, local and tribal partners in preparing for the threat of wildfires and in battling the blazes that endanger life and property. NOAA's forecast products range from short-term warnings to long-term seasonal predictions, and include air quality and smoke forecasts related to wildfires. NOAA also provides real-time fire and smoke detection tools using new imaging capabilities from geostationary and polar orbiting satellites. 

NOAA's FY22 budget request includes $15 million in increased funding across NOAA research, operations, and observations to enable better fire weather predictions and detection, and to improve local communities' access to fire weather data, products, and services.

Learn more about NOAA’s fire weather science and products below. Need an interview with a NOAA expert? Contact Chris Vaccaro with NOAA Communications.

Monitoring and forecasting

Drought is an underlying condition that enhances the risk of wildfires. NOAA experts contribute to the National Drought Mitigation Center’s Weekly Drought Monitor offsite link, which shows the extent and severity of the current drought, and maintains a record of drought statistics that show trends.

High temperatures, low humidity, wind, and lightning from dry thunderstorms are weather conditions that can help spark a blaze — as can human activities. Forecasts for environmental conditions that can enhance wildfire development are available on a timescale from daily to subseasonal from NOAA’s National Weather Service:

NOAA satellites are on continuous watch for hotspots that indicate new fire starts and fire growth — offering valuable early warning and monitoring support for responders and incident managers, especially when ignitions occur in less-populated areas. Satellites also provide extensive data about soil moisture and vegetation health, which can be precursors to fire risk.

Supporting wildfire incident management 

NOAA deploys Incident Meteorologists (IMETs) to wildfire incident command posts at the request of emergency managers. These specially-trained and equipped forecasters work closely with incident commanders to provide highly-detailed and tactical forecasts that support operational decisions that enable firefighters to safely combat wildfires. Follow the IMETs on Twitter and Facebook.

NOAA is a proud partner of the National Interagency Fire Center, which produces a National Significant Wildland Fire Potential Outlook every month, and reports current and historical national statistics on large fires, wildfires, acres burned — among their wide range of services related to wildland firefighting.

NOAA fire weather research

NOAA’s fire research activities range from improving long-range seasonal and subseasonal predictive tools that provide early indications of drought extent and severity, through advancing the skill of short-range models that identify changes in weather that alter fire behavior, to post-fire runoff and flood forecasts. 

Using observations and satellite assets, NOAA scientists develop products that address public safety risk and vulnerability, and pioneer systems that provide advanced decision support to officials managing fires and their impacts:

  • NOAA researchers are investigating how ocean conditions can influence precipitation patterns thousands of miles away, leading to improved predictability of fire risk on timescales of weeks to months.
  • NOAA’s drought early warning tools can help predict conditions that lead to rapid loss of moisture to the atmosphere from soil and vegetation — increasing risk of ignitions and fire growth.  
  • High-resolution weather models developed by NOAA scientists predict how weather will influence fire growth, and how smoke from fires will spread locally and across the nation.
  • NOAA scientists are developing a state-of-the-art precipitation and flood-forecast system to help officials manage the effects of extreme rainfall and post-fire flooding caused by atmospheric rivers.
Climate change connection

NOAA tracks long-term changes in our atmosphere and climate that influence wildfire frequency and severity — a topic that is included in the National Climate Assessment, produced every four years and for which NOAA is the lead federal science agency.

In the Fourth National Climate Assessment, a review of the most up-to-date science found that climate change is altering forested ecosystems and their function through major shifts in vegetation type and extent, resulting in an increase of the area burned by wildfire. Recent field studies have found even stronger links between drought, tree mortality, and an increase of fire on the landscape outside of natural cycles, with much of the research pointing to human-caused climate change. 

With continued high emissions of greenhouse gases, models project that the risk of very large wildfires will increase by up to six-fold in parts of the United States by mid-century. At high latitudes, including in Alaska, warming has already made forest fire fuels more flammable.

Discover more about the influence of climate change on wildfires through the Desert Research Institute, which hosts NOAA's Western Regional Climate Center offsite link, and operates the Wildland Fire Science Center offsite link.

Throughout the fire season, the Event Tracker on NOAA's provides information about the climate conditions behind selected high-profile fire events.  


Media contact

Chris Vaccaro, (202) 536-8911 

Across NOAA Weather Satellites Research Climate wildfires forecasting air quality climate change 0

7 sea turtle facts for the ocean lover

Tue, 2021-06-15 15:05
7 sea turtle facts for the ocean lover Did you know sea turtles lay about 100 eggs per nest? As soon as the eggs hatch (roughly 2 months later), the hatchlings dig out of their nest. Once they emerge, the tiny turtles hurry to the sea and make their way offshore into the open ocean. (NOAA) Download Image June 15, 2021 Fisheries sea turtles 0

Papah?naumoku?kea celebrates 15 years as a monument

Tue, 2021-06-15 13:43
Papah?naumoku?kea celebrates 15 years as a monument A green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas) swimming in shallow, clear water near French Frigate Shoals within the Papah?naumoku?kea National Marine Monument (2015). (Koa Matsuoka, with permission) Download Image A green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas) swimming in shallow, clear water near French Frigate Shoals within the Papah?naumoku?kea National Marine Monument (2015). (Koa Matsuoka, with permission) Download Image June 15, 2021 Sanctuaries sanctuaries 0

Media: Join webinar on using data to assess climate risk for vulnerable communities

Tue, 2021-06-15 13:01
Media: Join webinar on using data to assess climate risk for vulnerable communities June 17, 2021 An aerial photo taken October 28, 2019, by the Air Ops team from the Los Angeles County Fire Department of California's Getty Fire. (Los Angeles County Fire Department via Facebook) Download Image A flooded parking lot with a car partially submerged in high waters in front of a local business in Lake Charles, Louisiana, after slow-moving thunderstorms dropped more than a foot of rain on May 17, 2021. (NOAA NWS Forecast Office Lake Charles La.) Download Image

To address the impacts of climate change-- which disproportionately affects the most vulnerable populations in the United States-- partners in the public and private sector need access to meaningful, timely, and authoritative data and information in order to effectively measure, mitigate, and monitor climate-related risks. Hosted by NOAA, the Center for Open Data Enterprise offsite link (CODE), Amazon Web Services offsite link, and the Amazon Sustainability Data Initiative offsite link, the “Data for Climate Risk Assessment in Vulnerable Communities” webinar will highlight current challenges and areas for collaboration to assess and address climate risk using innovative data approaches. 


Wednesday, June 23
12:00 - 1:00 pm ET


Webinar on “Data for Climate Risk Assessment in Vulnerable Communities” for data users, stakeholders, and the media


  • Don Graves, Deputy Secretary of Commerce, U.S. Commerce Department 
  • Ben Friedman, acting NOAA administrator, NOAA
  • Ko Barrett, Deputy Assistant Administrator, NOAA
  • Joel Gurin, President, CODE
  • Ana Pinheiro Privette, PhD, Lead, Amazon Sustainability Data Initiative
  • Dave Levy, Vice President, Amazon Web Services
  • Jennifer Jurado, Florida Association of Counties, Chief Resilience Officer & Director
  • Ed Kearns, Chief Data Officer, First Street Foundation

Additional speakers to be confirmed.


Register using this Zoom link offsite link.

Speaker remarks will be followed by moderated Q&A, led by Joel Gurin, President of CODE.


Media contact

Kate Brogan,, 202-603-9651

Climate climate impacts media teleconference 0

Lake Erie harmful algal bloom forecast on June 30

Tue, 2021-06-15 12:03
Lake Erie harmful algal bloom forecast on June 30 Online webinar followed by media Q&A session with lead forecaster June 16, 2021 Taken during a July 15, 2019, flight to assist in improvements to the NOAA Harmful Algal Bloom forecast. This airborne campaign is ongoing in conjunction with NOAA weekly Lake Erie monitoring and biweekly sampling in Saginaw Bay. The flyovers are done in collaboration with researchers at NASA Glenn. (Zachary Haslick, Aerial Associates Photography Inc. ) Download Image

NOAA will release its 2021 Harmful Algal Bloom forecast for Lake Erie on Wed., June 30 during a media briefing hosted by Ohio Sea Grant and Stone Laboratory at The Ohio State University.

The event will be streamed online for the press and public. A moderated Q&A session limited to media will follow the forecast. A Q&A session for stakeholders will follow the media briefing.


NOAA’s 2021 harmful algal bloom forecast for Lake Erie, followed by related presentations.


Wed. June 30, 10:00 a.m. EDT



Online (audio and graphics) through Webex, or by phone by calling 415-655-0001, access code 161 480 3958.

Reporters must register here offsite link to receive the link to the Webex presentation.

Reporters will be able to view graphics and ask questions online through WebEx. Reporters can hear an audio feed of the webinar by telephone, but telephone users will not be able to ask questions in the Q&A session.


Print- and broadcast-quality graphics will be available for download during and after the teleconference.  


Media Contacts

Jennie Lyons, NOAA,, 202-603-9372

Jill Jentes, Ohio State University,, 614-937-0072

Ocean & Coasts harmful algal blooms (HABs) media teleconference 0

#SeaTurtleWeek: See how we’re helping protect 6 species found in U.S. waters

Mon, 2021-06-14 09:03
#SeaTurtleWeek: See how we’re helping protect 6 species found in U.S. waters Hawaiian green sea turtle. Download Image June 14, 2021 Fisheries Sea Turtle Week conservation 0