Contact: John Leslie
NOAA News Releases 2005
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Top officials from NOAA, the U.S. Navy and U.S. Coast Guard yesterday signed a Memorandum of Understanding, reaffirming their support of the National Ice Center, an interagency office that provides strategic ice analyses and other services that aid the navigation of U.S. assets in ice-infested waters, and tracks the movement of Antarctic icebergs.

“Today’s update to our original working agreement, first signed in 1995, means that the National Ice Center can continue monitoring the waterways for potentially dangerous ice, and help guide ships out of harm’s way for the safe, efficient delivery of goods,” said retired Navy Vice Admiral Conrad C. Lautenbacher, Jr., Ph.D., undersecretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator.

The center, located in Suitland, Md., uses satellite imagery to monitor lakes and oceans for sea ice movement and developing icebergs and ice sheets. The key users of center products are: NOAA, the U.S. Navy submarine force, the U.S. Coast Guard icebreaker fleet, the U.S. Army, the U.S. Air Force, the Military Sealift Command, the National Science Foundation, NASA and commercial transportation and fishing fleets. Ice center data is also used in meteorological and oceanographic models and forecasts.

“NIC products are also important to the emerging Global Earth Observation System of Systems [GEOSS], because we are getting a clearer picture of how typically frozen environments – including Antarctica and the Arctic – are interacting with the atmosphere,” Lautenbacher added.

“The NIC is a model of interagency cooperation,” said Rear Admiral Steven Tomaszeski, Oceanographer/Navigator of the Navy. “The Center’s high-quality strategic and tactical ice services support U.S. Navy units at sea and enhance our war-fighting capabilities. The synergy between the Navy, NOAA and U.S. Coast Guard provide safe navigation for military and commercial shipping, along sea lanes and the international science communities drive great benefit from the polar science and technology, ice analysis and ice-charting products.”

"The Coast Guard is proud to reaffirm its support for the National Ice Center," said Rear Adm. Dennis Sirois, the U.S. Coast Guard's assistant commandant for operations. "The free flow of commerce and the demands of securing our nation require constant awareness of threats in the maritime domain, and the National Ice Center plays a critical role in pinpointing and tracking natural obstacles before they become a hazard to navigation."

Staff at the NIC consists of five NOAA civilians, one NOAA Corps officer, 37 Navy officers and enlisted personnel, 11 Navy civilian employees and one Coast Guard petty officer. In 1956, the NIC was established by an interagency agreement between the U.S. Weather Bureau (now NOAA’s National Weather Service) and the U.S. Navy Fleet Weather Central. Today, the NIC also works with the Canadian Ice Service through the North American Ice Service.

NOAA, an agency of the U.S. Commerce Department, 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 nation’s coastal and marine resources.

Through the emerging Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS), NOAA is working with its federal partners, nearly 60 countries and more than 40 international organizations to develop a global Earth observation network that is as integrated as the planet it observes, predicts and protects.

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