Sea surface measurements continue to be a top priority for NOAA and the global ocean observing community because of their importance for weather forecasting, seasonal forecasting, and droughts. Subsurface heat content and tide gauge measurements are also critical to our understanding of sea level rise. These two combined are essential for hurricane forecasting and forecasting of storm surge and coastal inundation. Drifting buoys were deployed in advance of Hurricane Rita in 2005 for improved hurricane forecasting and additional hurricane drifters are being deployed during the 2006 hurricane season. The transition of the Tropical Atmosphere Ocean (TAO) array from the NOAA Oceanic and Atmospheric Research (OAR) to the National Weather Service (NWS) continues. Improvements to the tropical moored buoy network include expansion 1) in the Indian Ocean, 2) in the PIRATA array, 3) on tropical reference stations, 4) with surface salinity, and 5) with Next Generation research and development. Performance monitoring is underway to reduce the error in global measurements of sea surface temperature, ocean heat storage, sea level change, and ocean carbon sources and sinks.
A “systems approach” to international coordination of national implementation efforts is at the fore and the primary goal remains to build a global ocean observing system for climate. Partnerships are critical and all of NOAA's contributions to the international system are managed in cooperation with JCOMM. The Office of Climate Observation promotes the utilization of platform and data infrastructure for several objectives, including understanding the Earth's climate system, and documenting sea level change and the global carbon and water cycles.