OAR was formed with the creation of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in October 1970, which merged the United States Coast and Geodetic Survey, the Weather Bureau, and the Bureau of Commercial Fisheries into one agency. NOAA was placed under the administration of the Department of Commerce by means of the Reorganization Plan No. 4 of 1970.
During the 1970s this research branch of NOAA continued to expand its activities including accelerating research on hurricane intensity and movement, a federal-state cooperative program to evaluate the effectiveness of weather modification in Utah and North Dakota, and passing the National Climate Program Act in 1978 to develop a plan with federal and non-federal participants to estimate climate trends and predict future changes. Undersea research also expanded during this time, with the creation of the Manned Undersea Science and Technology Office in 1971; by 1977 they had established the first regional undersea research facility in St. Croix.
With its primary focuses being climate, oceans, great lakes, and coasts, and weather and air quality, OAR continued to make gains in several fields. In 2007, its scientists’
discovered that warming-induced wind shear changes could impact hurricane development and intensity. Also in 2007, NOAA Research scientists were awarded the
Nobel Peace Prize with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
and Vice President Al Gore for their efforts to build up and distribute knowledge about man-made climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change was represented by Dr. Susan Soloman of OAR’s Earth System Research Laboratory (ESRL), and Dr. Dan Albritton, former director of ESRL’s Chemical Sciences Division. Other
include launching the first buoy to measure acidification, measuring oceanic methane emissions for climate impact, and continued undersea exploration of the Ring-of-Fire.