The OPC provides critical weather and ocean information to a wide spectrum of partners and customers. Within the federal government these groups include the NWS field offices, the National Centers for Environmental Prediction, the National Ocean Service’s Response and Restoration office, the NOAA Corps, the U.S. Navy, and the U.S. Coast Guard. Heavily dependent on OPC products are the commercial shipping and transportation industries, commercial and recreational fishing, private weather and ship routing services, recreational boaters, the mineral exploitation industry, coastal zone recreation, the media, the academic community, the general public, and foreign weather services.
On a scheduled basis, around the clock OPC issues narrative warnings and forecasts to 48 h and graphical analyses and forecasts to 96 h for the north Atlantic and north Pacific oceans. Additionally along the east and west coasts of the U.S. the OPC issues offshore warnings, regional sea-state and weather analyses, and forecast graphics and narratives. Additionally, OPC performs real-time quality control of ship and buoy observations around the world. OPC also provides emergency and special products and services during search and rescue missions, marine hazardous material spills, aviation and marine accidents, and for protection of endangered species.
With the increasing stress on coastal and ocean ecosystems and the growing demands of marine transportation and commerce, OPC is receiving requests to expand its suite of products. Potential new coastal and ocean products include ocean features forecasts for western boundary currents such as the Gulf Stream, sea surface temperature prediction, thermocline depth analyses, ocean heat analysis, ocean currents, areas of upwelling and downwelling, salinity analyses and predictions, turbidity prediction, ocean color interpretation, analyses and predictions of areas of potential harmful algal blooms and hypoxia, and hazards tracking, such as of lost parcels from container ships.
Close interaction between the OPC and the research and development community will be essential in taking scientific advances and implementing them in an operational framework so new products possess the accuracy, timeliness, and formats necessary to be of real-time utility to the coastal and ocean communities. With its ties to these groups and its national and international missions, the OPC is well suited to provide an enhanced suite of operational coastal atmospheric and ocean products and services.