Ocean and freshwater data resources

We live on a water planet. Follow marine animals as they navigate the ocean, get your local tide and current predictions, or see what sea level rise may have in store for coastal communities. You can also explore river observations and trends in snow and ice.

An international map showing the locations of buoys in the Atlantic Ocean, the Pacific Ocean, and some in inland waterways.

A screenshot of the National Buoy Data Center homepage showing the locations of the buoys, as well as tropical storms active on 8/16/18. (Image credit: NOAA National Data Buoy Center)

This collection is organized into three categories: 

Classroom ready

Classroom-ready modules are designed with educators in mind. They use NOAA data in lesson plans and curricula for a straightforward experience.


Analyzing Ocean Tracks offsite link

9th - 12th grade & undergraduate • Teacher guide • Links to standards
Observe the movement of elephant seals, laysan albatross, northern bluefin tuna, and white sharks from the Tagging of Pacific Predators Project (TOPP) in a student-friendly interactive map. This site includes lesson plans and teacher’s guides for high school and undergraduate courses.
Interactive map • Numerical data • Graph/figure

Climate & Data ACLIPSE Activities offsite link

6th - 12th grade • Teacher guide • Links to standards
This collection uses real-time environmental data in self-directed student activities exploring the natural world. Students learn about carbon cycling, ocean acidification, and other phenomena related to climate change. These modules are designed with a three-dimensional approach to teaching in mind and use a data literacy framework.
Interactive map • Numerical data • Graph/figure

Data in the Classroom

5th - 12th grade • Teacher guide • Links to standards
Data in the Classroom has structured, student-directed lesson plans that use historical and real-time NOAA data. The five modules address research questions and include stepped levels of engagement with complex inquiry investigations with real-time and past data.
Interactive map • Numerical data • Satellite imagery • Graph/figure • Modeled/predicted

Estuaries 101 Real-time Data System Wide Monitoring Program (SWMP)

6th - 12th grade • Teacher guide • Links to standards
Estuaries 101 helps students and teachers increase their knowledge of coastal and estuarine science and how estuaries affect their daily lives. The curriculum modules in Estuaries 101 feature hands-on learning experiments, field work, interactive maps, and data explorations using data from NOAA’s network of 28 National Estuarine Research Reserves.
Interactive map • Numerical data • Graph/figure

Fishing for Information offsite link

9th - 12th grade • Teacher guide • Links to standards
This lesson uses Alaska Groundfish Survey Data from NOAA Fisheries to guide students in developing a research question and understanding the data acquisition process. Students use evidence to draw conclusions.
Interactive map • Numerical data

Teaching with Great Lakes Science offsite link

4th - 12th grade • Teacher guide • Links to standards
Explore lessons, datasets, and inquiry projects designed for educators interested in Great Lakes science. Modules can be mixed and matched. The Great Lakes FieldScope allows students to examine data from rivers and streams, watershed boundaries, political boundaries, elevation, and land cover.
Numerical data •  Graph/figure

Watching in 3D

9th - 12th grade • Teacher guide • Links to standards
Students explore specific sea floor discoveries (case studies) using step-by-step tool guides for the Ocean Exploration Digital Atlas (a searchable, interactive expedition data map) and authentic interactive mapping data visualization software.
Interactive map

Water quality testing online module offsite link

3rd - 8th grade • Teacher guide • Links to standards
This online activity uses data from the South Puget Sound waterways to teach the importance of water quality, different water quality parameters we test for, and environmental and human factors that influence water quality. More resources and a teacher guide can be found here offsite link.
Numerical data •  Graph/figure

Easily accessible resources

Often geared for researchers, these data resources come in a variety of formats and are not associated with lesson plans. However, the ones we highlight here are user-friendly and usually address a single subject.


Digital Coast Sea Level Rise Viewer

Display potential future sea levels and view sea level rise simulations of up to 6 feet at a local landmarks on this interactive map. Overlay social and economic data to see the potential impact that sea level rise may have on vulnerable people and businesses.
Interactive map • Modeled/predicted

GLOBE Data Visualization

View data collected by teachers and students participating in the GLOBE Program and long-term air temperature and precipitation observations from the Global Historical Climate Network (GHCN).
While lessons for data collection and other activities are a part of the GLOBE website, specific lessons for manipulation of this data are not provided at this link. 
Interactive map • Numerical data • Graph/figure

Great Lakes MODIS Imagery Region Map

View real-time and recent satellite images from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) instrument. Download high-resolution images in multiple formats. 
Satellite imagery

National Data Buoy Center

The National Data Buoy Center provides real-time environmental observations collected from buoys around the world. View both recent and historical information on ocean and weather conditions, as well as any current tsunami activity. Graphs and tables of data are available for water column height at each buoy location.
Interactive map • Numerical data • Graph/figure

National Snow and Ice Data Center offsite link

Access snow and ice data in Google Earth. Datasets include snow, ice, ice shelf, glaciers, permafrost, and sea ice extent.
Interactive map • Satellite imagery

NOAA Satellite and Information Service

View and download real-time, full-resolution satellite imagery from NOAA’s Satellite and Information Service. Visualize the latest satellite observations on interactive maps; check out the image of the day; explore past storms, floods, fires, and other events; and more.  
Interactive map • Satellite imagery

NOAA View Global Data Explorer

Access NOAA data from a variety of satellite, model, and other observations in a single, user-friendly map. Investigate various datasets related to the ocean, atmosphere, land, cryosphere, and climate and view them as animations over weeks, months, or years. Mouse over the maps to inspect individual data values at any point. 
Interactive map • Satellite imagery • Modeled/predicted

River Observations

View hydrograph, summary, and real-time data (flood stage, current height) from river gauges across the country. Explore river forecasts and experimental long-range flood risk. Download KMZ files for Google Earth of observed and forecasted river conditions.
Interactive map • Numerical data • Graph/figure

Tides and Currents

Explore real-time tide, weather, and current observations from an interactive station map. Find high and low tide and graphs of measurements over time by clicking on a station.
Interactive map • Numerical data • Graph/figure • Modeled/predicted

Looking for more?

If you haven’t found what you’re looking for here, try exploring our major data repositories. These sites host vast troves of data from across many different subjects and disciplines.


Integrated Ocean Observing Systems (IOOS) Data Portals [Advanced]

IOOS provides data about marine environments, including analyses of historical data, alerts based on current conditions, and forecasts of future conditions based on model predictions. IOOS links to hundreds of data sources operated by regional ocean observing systems across the United States and its territories.
Interactive map • Numerical data • Graph/figure

National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) [Advanced]

NCEI hosts and provides public access to one of the most significant archives for environmental data on Earth. Over 25 petabytes (25 million gigabytes) of atmospheric, coastal, oceanic, and geophysical data are available. 
Interactive map • Numerical data • Satellite imagery • Graph/figure • Modeled/predicted