Friday, June 4, 2010

U.S. Climate Satellite Capabilities in Jeopardy

The United States is in danger of losing its ability to monitor key climate variables from satellites, according to a new Government Accountability Office report. The country’s Earth-observing satellite program has been underfunded for a decade, and the impact of the lack of funds is finally hitting home. The GAO report found that capabilities originally slated for two new Earth-monitoring programs, NPOESS and GOES-R, run by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Department of Defense have been cut and adequate plans to replace them do not exist. But American scientists are now playing from behind trying to replace or patch up the infrastructure that lets us understand what’s going on with our planet. There are structural problems, too. Climate observation missions have very particular requirements, said Berkeley Lab climate scientist Inez Fung. More>