National IOOS

About Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS®)

The Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS®) is a partnership among federal, regional, academic and private sector parties that works to  provide new tools and forecasts to improve safety, enhance the economy, and protect our environment.
IOOS® supplies critical information about our Nation’s oceans, coasts, and Great Lakes. Scientists working to understand climate change, governments adapting to changes in the Arctic, municipalities monitoring local water quality, and industries affected by coastal and marine spatial planning all have the same need: reliable, timely, and sustained access to data and information that inform decision making.

Improving access to key marine data and information supports several purposes. IOOS® data sustain national defense, marine commerce and navigation safety. Scientists use these data to issue weather, climate and marine forecasts. IOOS® data are also used to make decisions for energy siting and production, economic development, and ecosystem-based resource management. Emergency managers and health officials need IOOS® information to make decisions about public safety. Teachers and government officials rely on IOOS® data for public outreach, training and education.   

IOOS® Organization (modified from

On March 30, 2009, President Barack Obama signed the Integrated Coastal and Ocean Observation System Act of 2009 (ICOOS Act) into law. This statute authorizes the establishment of a National Integrated Ocean Observing System (System) and codifies a governance structure within which the System will operate.

The Act explicitly vests authority in NOAA as the lead federal agency for implementation and administration of the System and charges NOAA to establish a U.S. IOOS® Program Office. In addition, NOAA is required to carry out its responsibilities in consultation with federal agency and regional partners.

The ICOOS Act includes specific tasks and requirements to be executed. Among the long list of activities are the preparation of System plans and budgets, the development of certification standards for non-federal assets, identification of gaps in observing coverage or needs for capital improvements, creating a merit-based competitive funding process, developing a national data management and communications system, establishing a System Advisory Committee, drafting a public-private use policy process, completing an independent cost estimate, writing a biennial congressional report and many others.

Along with NOAA, the ICOOS Act identifies interagency bodies to carry out these tasks and requirements and provide advice to administration.

  • The National Ocean Research Leadership Council (NORLC) - The NORLC was created by Congress as a part of the National Oceanographic Partnership Program (NOPP) in Fiscal Year 1998 (Public Law 105-85). The National Ocean Council Deputy-level Committee has assumed the duties of the statutorily mandated NORLC.

  • The Interagency Ocean Observation Committee (IOOC) - Led by three federal Co-Chairs and supported by agency representatives and support staff, the IOOC is responsible for implementing procedural, technical, and scientific requirements to ensure full execution of the System. Interagency collaboration is essential to achieve ocean science and technology priorities and, in particular, for planning and coordination of the System.

  • U.S. IOOS® Advisory Committee  - Provides advice to the Administrator and to the Interagency Ocean Observation Committee, which is responsible for planning for the integrated design, operation, maintenance, enhancement, and expansion of the System.