US Climate Satellites Imperiled By Low Federal Funding Say EO Scientists

Scientists concerned that Earth is threatened by global warming have a further worry: the US satellites tracking climate change are threatened by poor funding. The orbiting satellites that track shrinkage of arctic glaciers are themselves victims of shrinking federal funds, they warned in a new report that calls for an infusion of 7.5 billion dollars.
Earth observation satellites operated by NASA, the US space agency, most of which have have surpassed their life expectancies, will probably be reduced in number by 40 percent by 2010, according to a report released Monday by the National Academy of Sciences, which provides the US government guidance on science matters.
The threat of diminished space-based “seeing” comes as the bulk of scientists, as well as the administration of President George W. Bush, underscore the growing importance of an improved evaluation of the risks linked to global warming, natural catastrophes such as droughts and hurricanes, and the state of forests, wildlife and other natural resources.
In addition to an overall tight US federal budget due to the Iraq war, Bush has also tasked the National Aeronautics and Space Administration to plan missions to the moon and Mars, further crimping the budget for land sciences, the study’s authors said.
In the report, “Earth Science and Applications From Space: National Imperatives for the Next Decade and Beyond,” the authors propose spending some 7.5 billion dollars by 2020 to replace instruments and satellites.
They said that those funds would allow allow scientists to satisfy diverse scientific priorities while keeping the annual costs at their 2000 level in terms of US gross national product.
“This is the most critical time in human history, with the population never before so big and with stresses growing on the Earth,” Richard Anthes, co-chairman of the report committee and president-elect of the American Meteorological Society, was quoted as saying in Tuesday’s edition of The New York Times.
“We just want to get back to the United States being a leader instead of someone you can’t count on.”
Author: EARSC

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