Climate change research about to lose important tool

As the world’s scientists work on the global climate they will be losing their most important tool; weather satellites. The U.S. satellites that monitor climate change are beginning to fail due to age.
Because of more than 10 years of budget cuts the care of weather satellites has just not been on par. At a time when the data they provide is most needed researcher will be acting blind.

NPR reports:

“We’ll be blind for maybe a decade,” says Kathy Kelly, an oceanographer at the University of Washington who depends on satellite data for her research.

QuikSCAT is one of those satellites that could at any day stop sending information. It is used to send a stream back everyday about ocean winds and hurricanes.

The winds of the oceans are very important factors within the research for the climate.

What’s more unsettling is that new satellites are years from being launched to replace the ones soon to stop working. The agencies that have been most responsible for these satellites have had the largest budget cuts. Both NOAA and NASA also have other focuses than climate change. NOAA is involved in current weather and NASA is all about space science.

One hopeful sign is the pick by President Obama to run NOAA, Jane Lubchenco. She plans to create a National Climate Service. Those steps though will take time.

“The quickest you can get any new sensor up from when you seriously start is on the order of five years, and it can be as long as 10,” Bruce Wielicki, a NASA climate scientist says.

The gaps between being blind and global climate change will not just affect research. Without the satellite data air travel will be affected. Hurricane survival will be up in the air. Its long past the time for action.

“What are we going to do with airports? What are we going to do with the transportation sector?” Tom Karl, who’s in charge of climate services for NOAA says.


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