Government Shutdown Pulls Plug on Public Access to Ocean Data

As the federal government closes down today—including vast portions of the agencies that help study and protect our ocean—the impacts are quickly being felt far beyond just the federal employees that are being sent home.

Non-government scientists, academics, state and local officials, and even schoolchildren who rely on ocean data provided by the government will find that many of the websites that deliver this valuable information have now been taken down.

In fact, if you try to go to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s website right now, you’ll get a message saying, “Due to the federal government shutdown, and most associated websites are unavailable.”

Want to access ocean data from the Integrated Ocean Observing System? Too bad.

Looking to access some of the science done by the Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research? Nice try.

Need to find data from the National Estuarine Research Reserve System? Yeah, right.

Searching for information on your local National Marine Sanctuary? Tough luck.

Have an inkling to look up some climate information? Not gonna happen.

Lacking the employees, tech support and funding to maintain the government’s websites, only the sites that convey information necessary to protect life and property will be maintained during the shutdown.

So while you can still access weather data, nautical charts, information on tides and currents, and some limited oceanographic information for ports and shipping, much of the rest of the ocean and fisheries data that NOAA provides will be taken down either in part or in full.

A few sites, such as the National Marine Fisheries Service and the National Environmental Satellite Data Information System may still allow access to old data but won’t be updating their websites with new information. For much of the rest of NOAA, entire websites—both new and old data—will be completely taken down.

Far beyond just impacting federal employees, the shutdown is cutting off everyone’s access to important ocean data and information. This hurts folks from our nation’s top ocean scientists in universities who need that data to do critical research all the way down to a first-grader who might use NOAA’s websites and educational materials to write a report on dolphins or sea otters.

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