Obama Puts Critical Satellite Weather Systems on the Chopping Block
August 23, 2011 • 1:58PM

A gap in polar satellite weather observations, which are critical to providing scientists with data needed for space- and Earth-weather forecasting, is in jeopardy thanks to the "bending over backwards" that Obama is engaged in, to help Republicans cut the federal budget, and sacrifice the future well being of the American people. Already, the proposed Obama budget for FY12 eliminated funding for two new weather-related satellite systems.

In October, NOAA's NPP polar-orbiting weather satellite will finally launch, and is expected to operate until 2016. The next-generation Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS), which was supposed to launch in 2015, but thanks to two Obama budget cycles is years behind schedule, will not launch until at least 2016, and will create a gap of up to two years in polar data.

On April 14, the Administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) testified that there will be "very serious consequences to our ability to do severe storm warning, long-term weather forecasting, search and rescue, and good weather forecasts" for the polar regions, if the Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS) funding is not adequate. In July, Frank Wolfe's Approprations subcommittee sliced and diced both the NASA and NOAA budgets, eliminating yet more critical weather forecasting assets.

Today the Washington Post reports that meteorologists and NOAA continue to warn of the consequences of ongoing sabotage of critical scientific observations of weather and climate.

This looming disaster is only compounded by comparable criminal idiocy in Europe, where in early July, four members of the Eumetsat European weather satellite consortium—Austria, Greece, Portugal, and Spain—refused to support Europe's EPS-SG next-generation weather satellite system. Europe's current polar-orbiting satellite is also expected to need to be retired in 2016, and the loss of data continuity is a real concern.