NOAA Magazine || NOAA Home Page


NOAA image of NOAA Observing System Architecture, or NOSA, Web site.Feb. 14, 2005 ó Obtaining information on each of NOAA's observing systems just became easier with the NOAA Observing System Architecture, or NOSA, Web site. NOAA has been monitoring the Earth's environment for more than 30 years with tens of thousands of sensors in more than 100 observing systems—ranging from satellites to marine sonars to human observations of marine mammal populations. Before NOAA developed the new Web site, it did not have a comprehensive description of all of its observing systems. Now, the agency is providing this information in a one-stop Web site. (Click NOAA image for larger view of NOAA Observing System Architecture, or NOSA, Web site. Click here to view high resolution version, which is a large file. Please credit “NOAA.”)

Following an internal program recommendation, NOAA initiated its first-ever comprehensive review of all of its observing systems and their interrelationships. This activity was termed the baseline NOAA Observing Systems Architecture. NOAA constructed the baseline NOSA with the assistance of all observing system managers within NOAA. The agency identified 99 observing systems measuring more than 500 different environmental parameters. Forty of these were termed "operational" by their program managers.

The NOSA Web site was designed to provide information that is useful both to the managers of observing systems within NOAA and to the user who wants to know more about NOAA's mission and the environmental parameters it is monitoring and where. The main focus of the site is the ‘Featured Observing System.’ Each month a NOAA Observing System will be featured with a description and links to the site for the user to learn more about that system. The left-hand side of the new Web site contains detailed information about the NOSA project and related documents, which describe architecture, programs, and requirements for the projects and the observing systems.

The geospatial information of more than 80 of these observing systems was collected into a geospatial database with the assistance of the observing system managers. This database forms the basis for the geospatial capabilities of the Web site. NOSA presents the data in several different ways.

  • A page for each observing system includes brief descriptions and pictures. The page also includes a link to the observing system where users can read more about the observing system. This information was submitted by observing system managers early in the NOSA project or was collected for the Strategic Direction for NOAA's Integrated Global Environmental Observation and Data Management System.
  • Users also have the option to query the geospatial database by using the NOSA Geospatial Database Search tool. This tool supports queries based on station attributes through the 'Station Search' tool and provides a display of the information in the database table through the 'Data Viewer' option. The station search results also provide the user a link to the observing system Web site along with individual station links to real-time or near-real time data, where available.
  • An interactive map allows users to display multiple observing systems as layers and provides access to information about (and data from) specific stations. The interactive map also contains several non-NOAA observing systems to allow users to compare station density between both NOAA and non-NOAA agencies.
  • A "Find Your Place" section enables users to locate observing systems using Geopolitical Regions of the World, Ecoregions of the World, Hydrologic Units of the U.S., Weather Service Forecast Zones (U.S.), United States Counties or United States Congressional Districts. Find Your Place (FYP) gives users the option of searching based on entering their particular area of interest or by moving through a hierarchy.

NOAA is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through the prediction and research of weather and climate-related events and providing environmental stewardship of the nationís coastal and marine resources. NOAA is part of the U.S. Department of Commerce.

Relevant Web Sites
NOAA Observing System Architecture (NOSA)

NOAA Earth Observing System

Media Contact:
John Leslie, NOAA Satellites and Information Service, (301) 457-5005