WASHINGTON, DC (Senate Commerce Committee PR) – Leaders on the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation and the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology which exercise legislative jurisdiction in their respective chambers over the National Weather Service (NWS) today, issued the following statements on the announcement last night that President Donald Trump has signed into law H.R. 353, the Weather Research and Forecasting Innovation Act of 2017. The bill includes sweeping reforms to federal forecasting to improve seasonal forecasting, monitoring and clearly communicating information about extreme weather events, the availability of aircraft systems for hurricane tracking, and the use of commercial data that have been collectively called “the first major piece of weather legislation adopted since the early 1990s.”
The EPA says the climate science website has been taken down for retooling. There’s little doubt that when it returns, it will rewritten to conform with the Trump Administration’s political judgment that climate change is nothing to be concerned about rather than the scientific consensus that the threat is real, worsening and potentially catastrophic to the planet.
The position becomes increasing untenable as the data pile up. Critics point to uncertainties in the climate models, but those are not enough to negate the clear evidence that we’ve got a serious problem on our hands that we can’t avoid addressing indefinitely.
For those who may claim this story has nothing to do with space, you are wrong. NASA and NOAA are in the thick of the gathering meteorological and climate data the EPA and other agencies use to determine policy. The Trump Administration has proposed cancelling three NASA climate missions and deep cuts at NOAA.
It also highly likely that it is only a matter of time before NASA’s website is scrubbed of climate change information in the same way the EPA’s website is being rewritten.
WASHINGTON (House Science Committee PR – The U.S House of Representatives today unanimously approved the Senate amendment to H.R. 353, the Weather Research and Forecasting Innovation Act, introduced by Science, Space, and Technology Committee Vice Chair Frank Lucas (R-Okla.). This legislation directs the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to prioritize its research to improve weather data, modelling, computing, forecasting, and warnings. (more…)
The budgets of NASA and NOAA would see cuts for the FY 2017 fiscal year as part of $18 billion in reductions proposed by the Trump Administration.
NASA would see a reduction of $50 million in its science budget. The cuts would be “distributed….across the science program, including cuts to unused reserves and missions that are cancelled in the 2018 Budget. It is possible missions would be delayed and/or grants reduced,” according to a budget document sent to Congress.
If anyone had the slightest hope that Donald Trump might spare global warming research in his proposed spending plan, Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney stuck a knife through it during a contentious press conference on Thursday.
“As to climate change, I think the President was fairly straightforward saying we’re not spending money on that anymore,” he said. “We consider that to be a waste of your money to go out and do that.”
The Trump Administration’s proposed Commerce Department budget maintains funding for the development of NOAA’s current generation geostationary and polar orbiting weather satellites. However, the follow-on polar orbiting program appears to be delayed.
“Achieves annual savings from NOAA’s Polar Follow On satellite program from the current program of record by better reflecting the actual risk of a gap in polar satellite coverage, and provides additional opportunities to improve robustness of the low earth orbit satellite architecture by expanding the utilization of commercially provided data to improve weather models,” the blueprint states.
WASHINGTON, DC (NASA PR) — NASA has selected United Launch Services LLC (ULS) of Centennial, Colorado, to provide launch services for the Joint Polar Satellite System-2 (JPSS-2) mission for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Launch is currently targeted for 2021 on an Atlas V 401 rocket from Space Launch Complex 3E at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.
The Trump Administration and key Republican members of Congress have argued for a “re-balance” of NASA’s portfolio toward exploration. Let other agencies like NOAA conduct research into Earth science and global change.
However, it doesn’t appear Trump is remotely interested in giving NOAA the tools to even do that. In fact, he is proposing deep cuts in the agency.
The Trump administration is seeking to slash the budget of one of the government’s premier climate science agencies by 17 percent, delivering steep cuts to research funding and satellite programs, according to a four-page budget memo obtained by The Washington Post.
The proposed cuts to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration would also eliminate funding for a variety of smaller programs, including external research, coastal management, estuary reserves and “coastal resilience,” which seeks to bolster the ability of coastal areas to withstand major storms and rising seas….
The OMB outline for the Commerce Department for fiscal 2018 proposed sharp reductions in specific areas within NOAA such as spending on education, grants and research. NOAA’s Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research would lose $126 million, or 26 percent, of the funds it has under the current budget. Its satellite data division would lose $513 million, or 22 percent, of its current funding under the proposal.
The National Marine Fisheries Service and National Weather Service would be fortunate by comparison, facing only 5 percent cuts.
The story explains that not only would NOAA be hobbled in conducting research, but that cutbacks would jeopardize public safety by limiting the agency’s ability to protect the country against severe weather.
The defense buildup that Trump repeatedly promised on the campaign trail would mark about a 10 percent spending hike. Under Trump’s proposal, most federal agencies would face budget reductions, an Office of Management and Budget official said. Foreign aid spending would also drop.
The officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity at the White House’s insistence, did not say which federal departments would see the biggest cuts.
Speaking at a meeting with governors Monday, Trump said his administration will “do more with less and make the government lean and accountable.”
The budget “will include a historic increase in defense spending to rebuild the depleted military of the United States of America at a time we most need it,” Trump said at the White House.
Trump is expected to further outline his spending priorities in an address to Congress on Tuesday. A detailed budget plan is expected in mid-March.
We’ll have to wait how all this pans out when the administration releases its full plan. But, on the face of things, this doesn’t look real good for NASA, NOAA or the nation’s civilian science and technology programs.
The House of Representatives has approved a far-reaching measure designed to revamp NOAA’s weather forecasting operations that includes a pilot program for using commercial weather data.
The Weather Research and Forecasting Innovation Act of 2017 requires NOAA to develop a strategy for acquiring commercial weather data and to enter into at least one contract under a pilot program. The data can be obtained through contracts with commercial providers and the placement of instruments on co-hosted private or government payloads.
“The strategy shall assess the range of commercial opportunities, including public-private partnerships, for obtaining surface-based, aviation-based, and space-based weather observations,” the act stipulates. “The strategy shall include the expected cost-effectiveness of these opportunities as well as provide a plan for procuring data, including an expected implementation timeline, from these nongovernmental sources, as appropriate.”
The measure provides $6 million per year for the pilot program in Fiscal Years 2017 through 2020.
Three years after signing a commercial weather contract, NOAA would submit an assessment of the viability of commercial weather data to the House and Senate science committees. If the data are viable, the agency would be required to assess whether it needs to develop future weather satellites on its own or could rely on commercial purchases.
The act requires NOAA to conduct a simulation experiment to assess the value of radio occulation from the global navigation satellite system. The agency would also conduct an experiment “to assess the value of data from a geostationary hyperspectral sounder global constellation….
“Upon completion of all Observing System Simulation Experiments, the Assistant Administrator shall make available to the public the results an assessment of related private and public sector weather data sourcing options, including their availability, affordability, and cost-effectiveness,” the act reads.
Alarmed by efforts of the Trump Administration to control communications out of federal agencies, users have created a number of new alternative Twitter accounts has sprung up to give what they say is the true story about climate change, the environment and other topics.
WASHINGTON, DC (NOAA PR) — GOES-16, the first spacecraft in NOAA’s next-generation of geostationary satellites, has sent the first high-resolution images from its Advanced Baseline Imager (ABI) instrument. Included among them are a composite color full-disk visible image of the Western Hemisphere captured on January 15, 2017. Created using several of the ABI’s 16 spectral channels, the full-disk image offers an example the satellite’s advanced technology.
WASHINGTON, DC (NASA PR) — Earth’s 2016 surface temperatures were the warmest since modern recordkeeping began in 1880, according to independent analyses by NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
Globally-averaged temperatures in 2016 were 1.78 degrees Fahrenheit (0.99 degrees Celsius) warmer than the mid-20th century mean. This makes 2016 the third year in a row to set a new record for global average surface temperatures.
The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy has released an exit memo highlighting the Obama Administration’s achievements in science and technology. Excerpts covering achievements in space follows. (more…)
It’s going to be busy year in space in 2017. Here’s a look at what we can expect over the next 12 months.
A New Direction for NASA?
NASA’s focus under the Obama Administration has been to try to commercialize Earth orbit while creating a foundation that would allow the space agency to send astronauts to Mars in the 2030’s.
Whether Mars will remain a priority under the incoming Trump Administration remains to be seen. There is a possibility Trump will refocus the space agency on lunar missions instead.
Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-OK), who is currently viewed as a leading candidate for NASA administrator, has written two blog posts focused on the importance of exploring the moon and developing its resources. Of course, whether Bridenstine will get NASA’s top job is unclear at this time.