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Thu October 14 2004
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NOAA provides world-class information products and services to aid domestic and global commerce, promote safe and efficient marine and air transportation, and add to our understanding of the world's oceans in the form of:

Nautical charts essential for navigating all U.S. coastal waters, the Great Lakes and the U.S. territories.

The Office of Coast Survey's Historical Map & Chart Collection contains over 20,000 maps and charts from the late 1700s to present day. The Collection includes some of the nation's earliest nautical charts, hydrographic surveys, topographic surveys, geodetic surveys, city plans and Civil War battle maps. The Collection is a rich primary historical archive and a testament to the artistry of copper plate engraving technology of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The Historical Map & Chart Project scans each map or chart and offers the images free to the public via the Coast Survey web site.
Tide and tidal current tables and real-time water levels and currents in ports and harbors to aid in timely and cost-effective shipping of $500 billion worth of cargo annually.
National Survey Plan Cover graphicHydrographic Surveys Hydrographic surveys are conducted to determine the configuration of the bottoms of water bodies, especially as it pertains to navigation. This includes the detection, location and identification of wrecks and obstructions primarily through the use of side scan sonar and multibeam sonar technology. Using this technology, NOAA played a crucial role in finding the wreckage of:
TWA 800, John F. Kennedy, Jr.'s plane and EgyptAir 990;

Office of the Coast Survey National Survey Plan

Electronic Navigational Charts are perhaps the most anticipated and most critical component of NOAA's suite of navigation tools. Built to international standards, ENCs are essentially a database of vector chart features that can be intelligently processed and displayed by electronic charting systems. As "smart charts," ENCs give the user much more information than the paper chart can. They can be incorporated with Global Positioning System satellite data and other sensor information (water levels, winds and weather) to significantly improve navigation safety and efficiency by warning the mariner of hazards to navigation and situations where the vessel's current track will take it into danger.

NOAA began its release of prototypes of digital vector ENCs for testing and evaluation by the public. The ENCs are available solely via the Internet at no cost to any interested party seeking to download this data.

Remote Sensing — This division in the NOAA National Geodetic Survey provides airport geodetic control, runway, navigational aid, obstruction, and other aeronautical data that is critical to the operation of the national airspace system; plans and acquires aerial photography and compiles shoreline data, primarily for application to the nautical charts produced by the NOAA Office of Coast Survey; and conducts research and development using LIDAR and aerial photography, which was used to map the World Trade Center disaster site. A geographic reference network which is the standard for all surveying and mapping in the U.S. and essential for accurate surveying, reliable engineering and safe construction; Cooperative Chart Updating or "Adopt-a-Chart — There are big-hearted people in this world who adopt children and many more who adopt pets. However, it takes a special blend of devotion and tenacity to adopt a nautical chart. Aeronautical charts critical to the safety of millions of air travelers annually. Please note that this program is now part of the Federal Aviation Administration.
Promote Safe Navigation - About 3,500 ships are involved annually in accidents on our nation's waterways—a substantial number of them carrying hazardous materials resulting in oil or chemical spills. In addition about 6,400 recreational boating accidents are reported annually. The U.S. has more than 95,000 miles of coastline and over 3.5 million square miles of open waters. In the last 50 years, ships have doubled in length, width, and draft and waterborne commerce has tripled, leading to increased risk.

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Coastal Aerial Photography - Aerial photography has been used to create accurate maps of the nation's coastline since the late 1930's and became the sole source for coastal mapping in 1980. This valuable resource of approximately a half million coastal photographs has many uses including: coastal management, waterfront development, natural resource identification, coastal change analysis, habitat identification, and recreational planning.
Coastal Survey Maps - Precise surveys of the nation's coast and navigable near shore waters are the primary responsibility of the National Geodetic Survey's Remote Sensing Division. The surveys provide shoreline data for Nautical Chart production, and accurate geographical references needed for managing coastal resources.
Environmental Sensitivity Index Maps - Environmental Sensitivity Index (ESI) maps are an integral component in oil-spill contingency planning and assessment. They serve as the first source of information in the event of an oil spill incident. ESI maps are a product of the Hazardous Materials Response Division of the Office of Response and Restoration (ORR).
Estuarine Bathymetry - a digital raster compilation of NOAA Ocean Service hydrographic survey data for selected U.S. estuaries. These data provide an important piece of the mapping puzzle to those managing our Nation’s valuable estuarine resources.
Geodetic Control Points - a consistent national coordinate system that precisely defines latitude, longitude, elevation, scale, gravity, and how these values have changed with time. This information is absolutely essential for ensuring the reliability of transportation, communication, and defense systems, boundary and property surveys, land record systems, mapping and charting, public utilities, coastal zone management, natural resource mapping, and a multitude of scientific and engineering applications
Historical Maps & Charts of the Office of Coast Survey contains several thousand historical maps and charts from the early 1800s into the mid 1900s. The Collection includes some of the nation's earliest nautical charts, hydrographic surveys, topographic surveys, geodetic surveys, city plans and Civil War battle maps. The Collection is a rich primary historical archive and a testament to the artistry of copper plate engraving technology of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
Hydrographic Survey Outlines - a geo-spatial index of over 10,000 hydrographic and field exam surveys covering the continental U.S. and territories that span from 1837 to the present. Users can locate the limits of individual surveys and retrieve additional survey specific information.
Map Finder - "one stop shopping" for images and data from a number of National Ocean Service (NOS) offices. The cornerstone of NOS MapFinder is a robust set of products available directly from the Web. These products are offered by theme (e.g., coastal aerial photography, low resolution nautical charts, coastal survey maps, environmental sensitivity index atlases, hydrographic survey outlines, historical maps, water level station data, geodetic control points, and estuarine bathymetry data).
Raster Nautical Charts - NOS MapFinder provides a complete spatial index of nautical charts for the U.S. and its territories. The entire suite of over 1,000 nautical charts actually includes over 2,000 individual charts, chart sections, and chart insets. NOS MapFinder provides almost all of these charts, sections and insets as preview raster (85 dpi) images. While not suitable for navigation, these images are suitable for planning and other mapping purposes.
Water Level Stations - The NOS MapFinder features water level station information for 103 of the coastal locations. This information includes geographic station location, descriptive location text, collected data types, and date of the earliest collected water level data. Further information on this Program and other programs of the Oceanographic Products and Services Division can be found at

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Office of Coast Survey
Coast Survey Development Laboratory
Hydrographic Surveys Division
National Geodetic Survey
Navigation Services Division

Publication of the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), U.S. Department of Commerce.
Last Updated: June 10, 2004 3:53 PM