Beyond satellites, this potential NOAA cut would be devastating

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Imagine a deadly tornado approaching your town without weather forecasters having the proper tools to adequately warn you or your neighbors about the impending threat.

President Trump’s proposal to cut 17 percent from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s budget will have a direct impact on the government’s weather forecast and warning capabilities – and on our economy – no matter how you slice it.

On the surface, it may appear that the administration is actually prioritizing NOAA’s weather prediction and warning apparatus, given the smaller 5 percent cuts to the National Weather Service and National Marine Fisheries Service. That’s in contrast to the 22 percent and 26 percent spending reductions for NOAA satellites and NOAA weather and climate research, respectively.

Here’s the clincher: The satellite line is essential for protecting critical real-time weather monitoring and prediction capacity for the National Weather Service, and for maintaining consistent record of climate observations. Just as important, however, are the weather and climate research advances that occur in NOAA’s laboratories – research developments that are regularly transitioned into weather prediction models and methods. 

In other words, you can’t surgically excise weather and climate research, or satellites, without undermining preparedness and putting American lives at risk in the face of increasingly extreme weather threats.

NOAA’s critical role has been evidenced during the growing number of costly weather disasters we’ve witnessed over the last several decades. Undermining the agency is simply antithetical to public safety, good government and a strong economy.

Just consider what would happen if we failed to maintain and improve our world-class climate and weather capability with another or massive tornado outbreak bearing down on homes and businesses.

Former NOAA Administrator Jane Lubchenco has called the Trump administration’s proposed cuts “draconian” and “devastating to the economy, jobs and to the safety and livelihoods of Americans in every state.”

It should give the White House pause.

Scott Weaver

Scott Weaver

Scott is a Senior Climate Scientist in our Washington office.

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Comments

This would be a reasonable argument if the predictions could or would actually save lives! But from past storm history, there seems to be little correlation between predicting weather and getting these predictions correct enough to save people.

Hi Jack,

On what data are you basing your claim that lives aren't saved? While it's true that storm warnings may not save all lives, don't you think it's likely that many more are saved when people have enough warning to stay off roads, stock up on supplies and evacuate? Those warnings, based on the data that, with the budget cuts won't be collected as thoroughly or accurately, are also used by local towns to determine when to call for evacuation and issue other recommendations. I'm confident that has saved lives, and that the ability of towns and municipalities to continue to make life saving weather decisions will be dangerously hampered if the needed data is no longer collected/available.

I have lived in one place for 41 years and I spend a lot of time outdoors. Trump should get his head out of his whatever and get out and open his eyes. The weather systems we are accustomed to are vanishing with more intense weather to follow. We will not fear the terrorists when we cannot grow crops.

You are completely correct. Everyone talks about the weather and how the expected patterns have drastically changed. Yet they can't make the connection to climate change. Also, unless you are in farm country you may not see the impact to the food and water supply.

I worked for the National Weather Service for 35 years. This is the worst attack on NOAA I have ever seen. Please support the vital jobs they do.

I work with the NOAA brave individuals who fly P-3 aircraft directly into hurricanes. Forget about satellites. Real time on-site human and sensor assessments of hurricanes is the only way to truly understand the intensity of the storm and what it can mean to the US, especially coastal areas. Do not cut funding for these unsung heroes!

Taking money away from science, another smart move by a buffoon who I expect nothing more of. Deny climate change, weather change, study weather patterns, oh to much for an orangutan to take in.

Maybe if Trump lived in the real world, he would know before the scientists he fired what the heck is happening. Hope Mar a Largo is first to go under water with the rising seas. Karma works like that.

I am old enough to remember weather forecasting before satellites. Hurricanes warnings came out when the storm hit, violent thunderstorms,tornadoes came with minimal warning. Accuracy of forecasts was nowhere close to today's level. If the idiot-in-chief went outside instead of living in a bubble of air-conditioning, weather might be important. Sadly his head is otherwise occupied.

I support NOAA. Very worried about climate change and the world we are leaving our children. Belong to 350.org and call and write my state and federal representatives and constantly post on Facebook. What else and how can we get the American people to read and understand what is happening? All of our media is owned by corporate interests and spend no time on science or climate change. How do we get the truth out?