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Five Ways NOAA Helped Make America Climate-Ready in 2021

The following is a cross-post from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

Record-setting summer heat baked the typically cooler Pacific Northwest. 

The third busiest hurricane season on record sent eight storms barreling into the Atlantic and Gulf coasts.

Devastating, record-setting tornadoes brought hundreds of miles of destruction across eight states in December. 

Tropical downpours flooded New York City, and a February snowstorm crippled Texas and the South. 

These are just some of the 18 weather and climate-driven billion-dollar disasters we’ve seen in 2021 so far. As extreme weather goes, this year was one for the record books. Climate change is here, and NOAA is playing a key role in tackling the climate crisis.

Here are 5 ways we’ve helped make America climate-ready, responsive and resilient this year:

1. We put climate information into your hands

A major upgrade to NOAA’s climate.gov made our climate data, graphics, education materials and tools more accessible and easier to locate for millions of users. 

We also released a new interactive online tool that helps users determine a county’s risk for, and vulnerability to costly weather and climate disasters such as wildfires, drought, tornado outbreaks and hurricanes.

2. We improved weather forecasts to protect lives and livelihoods

Precision matters: Preliminary results show that NOAA’s National Hurricane Center’s hurricane forecasts this year were 10-20 miles closer to the actual track of the storm two to four days prior to landfall, compared to track forecasts from the previous five years. 

Our investments in forecasting capability and improved weather and climate models will continue to pay dividends as more Americans face risks from extreme weather and climate hazards like floods, wildfires, drought and hurricanes. 

3. We moved America closer to meeting its clean energy goals 

NOAA worked closely with the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management to coordinate the siting and permitting of offshore wind projects that support the Administration’s clean energy goal of 30 gigawatts of offshore wind by 2030, including a comprehensive interagency approach to reduce negative impacts of offshore energy development on fisheries surveys. 

We also signed a data sharing agreement with the wind energy developer Ørsted to better understand the physical and biological characteristics of the ocean where offshore wind projects occur. 

4. We protected climate-vulnerable maritime wonders for future generations

Designated in June, the Wisconsin Shipwreck Coast National Marine Sanctuary protects 962 square miles of Lake Michigan known for 36 historically significant shipwrecks. The sanctuary designation supports research, education and outreach, and will foster tourism and recreation in the region while preserving important cultural heritage and natural resources. 

In November, NOAA took the first steps toward designating a new Chumash Heritage National Marine Sanctuary, a 7,000 square mile area off the central California coast that would protect the area’s rich biodiversity, maritime heritage, and tribal history, while creating new opportunities for research and economic development. 

5. We advanced equitable access to climate services

Vulnerable populations face unique threats from a changing climate. NOAA held a series of eight Climate and Equity roundtables across the country — from Alaska to Louisiana — to listen and learn how the agency can better serve vulnerable communities when it comes to specific regional climate hazards. In 2022, NOAA is taking action on the feedback received at these roundtables.

NOAA’s work to provide data, information and solutions to address the climate crisis doesn’t end here.

WATCH: Learn more about how NOAA is meeting the moment today and beyond.