Weather satellite budget cuts a ‘disaster in the making’


Jane Lubchenco, head of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency, criticises GOP moves to cut funding for critical satellite

The weather satellite – shown here over Cuba

The weather satellite – shown here over Cuba – provides 90% of the data used by the National Weather Service and the UK Met Office. Photograph: Getty Images

«America and Europe face a “disaster in the making” because of Congress budget cuts to a critical weather satellite, one of Barack Obama’s top science officials has warned.

The satellite crosses the Earth’s poles 14 times a day, monitoring the atmosphere, clouds, ice, vegetation, and oceans. It provides 90% of the information used by the National Weather Service, UK Met Office and other European agencies to predict severe storms up to seven days in advance.

But Republican budget-cutting measures would knock out that critical capacity by delaying the launch of the next generation of polar-orbiting satellites, said Jane Lubchenco, who heads the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency.

“It is a disaster in the making. It’s an expression of the dysfunction in our system,” said Lubchenco, who was speaking at a dinner on the sidelines of the Society of Environmental Journalists meeting in Miami.

It would cost three to five times more to rebuild the project after a gap than to keep the funds flowing. “It’s insanity,” Lubchenco said.”»

More (Click here),, US environment correspondent, guardian.co.uk, Monday 24 October 2011

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