NOAA's Role in Environmental Justice

With the U.S. experiencing increasingly frequent and severe extreme weather, water, ocean, and climate events, such as flooding, wildfires, drought, and heat waves, low-income communities and communities of color are often disproportionately impacted by these disasters.  Many Alaska Native villages are facing imminent existential threats from coastline flooding, erosion, and melting permafrost.  Wildfires in California and other western states threaten the lives, properties, and livelihoods of residents and businesses, and the associated smoke negatively affects vulnerable agricultural and other outdoor workers. Record-breaking heat across the country is linked to increased risk of illness and death for at-risk groups such as older adults, people with asthma, and outdoor workers. Worsening heat waves are creating deadly “heat islands,” predominantly in lower income urban communities of color, where these neighborhoods can be up to 20°F hotter than surrounding areas. 

NOAA is responding to these and other environmental injustices by developing new and enhanced climate products and services to meet the needs of our most vulnerable communities.  To achieve this goal begins internally by accelerating our commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility so that the organization looks more like America and everyone shares a strong sense of belonging. Externally, we are undertaking listening sessions across the country to better understand community needs and to design more equitable, accessible climate solutions. We are also assessing several of our key climate programs to identify and address barriers facing underserved communities to more effectively tackle their climate challenges and enhance economic development. Finally, NOAA has created a new NOAA Climate Council to leverage and coordinate our resources and expertise, and those of our partners, to enhance the equitable delivery of climate science and services. 

These environmental justice resources are tailored to address a wide range of climate challenges and solutions to help underserved communities prepare for, respond to and build back better from climate-induced disasters. If you have questions related to NOAA’s environmental justice data, products, and services, or how we might help your community become more climate-resilient, please email us

What is Environmental Justice and How Is NOAA Responding?

For a definition of EJ and more information on what in-house research NOAA is engaged in to address this challenge, see our Environmental Justice Fact Sheet.