Featured collections

The NOAA Digital Library collections reflect NOAA’s broad mission of advancing science “from the bottom of the ocean to the surface of the sun.” Images within are contributed by NOAA staff and help depict NOAA’s work to explain and interpret our changing environment. The NOAA Digital Library started in 1998 as part of the NOAA Central Library. An update in 2019 organized approximately 70,000 images into broad collections, further arranged into specific galleries. In 2024, this Digital  Library was relaunched on NOAA.gov to expand access and provide a more comprehensive search capability. New assets, including our vast heritage collection, are continually being digitized and added to enhance the library further.

The NOAA Digital Library is not the only source of photography and imagery from NOAA, although we are working to consolidate the assets to this library; many offices and programs within our agency produce photographs. You are advised to contact the owners of specific sites within NOAA if you find images on those web pages you are interested in using

Using NOAA Images

Images in the NOAA Digital Library are in the “public domain” and cannot be copyrighted. Unless otherwise noted in the credit or caption of the item of interest, you may use it without express permission. The one exception is our videos, as they often use third-party copyrighted footage. However, for other media on the NOAA Digital Library, you may use this material, but not:

  • Claim it as your own (i.e., claiming copyright for federal information);
  • Use it in a manner that implies an endorsement or affiliation with the U.S. government; or
  • Modify or misrepresent the content, and then present it as official government material.

This general permission does not extend to use of the NOAA emblem (logo). The NOAA emblem may not be used by persons who are not NOAA employees or on products (including web pages) that are not NOAA-sponsored without written consent from NOAA.

Requests from entities such as publishers to sign over copyright privileges for publication purposes are unnecessary. If a NOAA image includes an identifiable person, using the image for commercial purposes may infringe that person's right of privacy or publicity, and permission should be obtained from the person. If using an image, please credit NOAA and photographer, if noted, as well as their affiliated organization.

Contact Information

For all questions about the NOAA Photo Library, contact us at: photolibrary@noaa.gov