About Environmental Research Division

The Environmental Research Division (ERD) is a research unit of the National Marine Fisheries Service's Southwest Fisheries Science Center. The group was formed in 1969 to develop data bases and to conduct research on fishery-related effects of natural environmental variability over a broad range of scientific, management, and operational concerns of the government and the fishing industry of the United States.

In addition to its research mission, ERD distributes environmental index products and time series data bases to cooperating researchers, taking advantage of its long association with the U.S. Navy's Fleet Numerical Meteorology and Oceanography Center.

ERD is also the west coast regional site for the NOAA CoastWatch program, which provides rapid dissemination of satellite observation data to governmental, academic, commercial, and public users.


The Environmental Research Division of the Southwest Fisheries Science Center will provide innovative science-based analyses, products, and information on environmental variability to meet the research and management needs of the SWFSC, NMFS, and NOAA, and will serve the agency’s mission of stewardship of living marine resources and the promotion of healthy ecosystems.


Assess, understand, and predict the effects of climate and environmental variability - from global to local scales – that are important to fish populations, protected species, and marine ecosystems; and deliver integrated scientific information for sound decision-making and ecosystem management.

ERD's objectives and strategies are to:


Formed in 1969 as the Pacific Environmental Group, later known as the Pacific Fisheries Environmental Laboratory (PFEL), the strategic location of the SWFSC Environmental Research Division on the Monterey Peninsula is based on the long-standing association with the U.S. Navy's Fleet Numerical Meteorology and Oceanography Center. This close relationship gives NMFS access to the global environmental data base, from which ERD develops and disseminates data sets and associated products and environmental indices relevant to fisheries and marine ecosystems. Fisheries scientists and resource managers use these products to characterize ocean properties and processes occurring within fishery habitats.

Over the past three and one-half decades, ERD has enjoyed an illustrious history. It is recognized nationally and internationally for excellence in research related to understanding environmental variability affecting marine fisheries over a broad range of scientific, management, and operational concerns, and for distributing environmental products and data bases that are critical to marine and climate research. The two-fold tradition of Data Service and Research continues at ERD, responding to the mission and priorities of NMFS and NOAA.

ERD's organizational goals and strategies have evolved from this original dual emphasis at PFEL on physical oceanography and data products, to a strongly mission-driven, research-oriented program that addresses elements of the NOAA and NMFS Strategic Plans. We continue this strong tradition of providing oceanographic and environmental data, research, analyses, information, and knowledge, as well as advanced scientific and computing technologies, in support of fisheries research, assessment, management, and decision-making needs critical to the task of sustaining fisheries and ecosystem biodiversity, and protecting sensitive species. ERD is strategically positioned to respond to new challenges and opportunities to the agency, including participation and leadership in broad collaborative programs such as the Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS), the Pacific Coastal Ocean Observing System (PaCOOS), the Global Ocean Ecosystem Dynamics (GLOBEC) program, the National Oceanographic Partnership Program (NOPP), and the Census of Marine Life (CoML).

ERD continues to focus on these areas: