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Thread: Blind Eye In The Sky: Weather Satellites Lose Funding

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    Blind Eye In The Sky: Weather Satellites Lose Funding

    [URL="http://www.npr.org/2011/06/17/137251742/blind-eye-in-the-sky-weather-satellites-lose-funding"]http://www.npr.org/2011/06/17/137251742/blind-eye-in-the-sky-weather-satellites-lose-funding[/URL]


    [QUOTE]

    Government officials are forecasting a turbulent future for the nation's weather satellite program.

    Federal budget cuts are threatening to leave the U.S. without some critical satellites, the officials say, and that could mean less accurate warnings about events like tornadoes and blizzards. In particular, officials at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration are concerned about satellites that orbit over the earth's poles rather than remaining over a fixed spot along the equator.

    These satellites are "the backbone" of any forecast beyond a couple of days, says Kathryn Sullivan, assistant secretary of commerce for environmental observation and prediction, and NOAA's deputy administrator.

    It was data from polar satellites that alerted forecasters to the risk of tornadoes in Alabama and Mississippi back in April, Sullivan says. "With the polar satellites currently in place we were able to give those communities five days' heads up," she says.

    But that level of precision could diminish in the next few years, Sullivan says.

    One important NOAA satellite in a polar orbit will reach the end of its expected life around 2016. And its replacement has been delayed by a continuing resolution passed by Congress that limits the agency's ability to pursue its new Joint Polar Satellite System.

    Sullivan says that means there could be more than a year when the nation is lacking a crucial eye in the sky.

    "If we go blind, if there actually is a gap between the last satellite and this, it certainly will erode the reliability and accuracy of our forecasts," she says.

    To find out how bad the problem might be, the National Weather Service re-examined one of its great forecasting successes: the 2010 blizzard known as "Snowmageddon."

    The agency wanted to know what would happen if a similar blizzard arrived several years from now, when several satellites are likely to be out of commission, says National Weather Service Director Jack Hayes.

    "We were quite surprised at the finding that we would underestimate the amount of snowfall the Eastern Seaboard had, specifically in the Washington, D.C., area, by a factor of 2," Hayes says. In other words, areas where forecasts called for 15 inches would actually get 30 inches.

    Budget problems aren't the only reason NOAA's next polar satellite is behind schedule. A previous version of the program was scrapped, and NOAA has had trouble getting some of the new satellite's cutting-edge technology finished on time.

    But Hayes says this sort of technology is precisely what's made forecasting more accurate with each new generation of satellites.

    NASA officials are also concerned about the next generation of weather satellites. The agency will play an important role in building them and also supplements data from NOAA weather satellites with data from its own research satellites.

    "It used to be that weather was just something that happened," says Michael Freilich, who directs the earth science division at NASA. Now, he says, people and businesses make specific plans based on what forecasters say.

    [/QUOTE]

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    How Govt. spending is protected 101:

    1. Fund thousands of dubious and questionable projects, as well as many great and legitimate projects.

    2. When spending cuts are demanded, threaten to cut the best and most legitimate projects you have first.

    3. Sow discord and fear about the loss of those projects in the media. Hype how our society will crumble without them.

    4. Do not, under any circumstances, mention the thousands of duplicating, dubious, questional projects. Only the great stuff, and how losing it will hurt.

    5. Once the spendng is saved, continue to barely fund the great stuff (only enough to keep it afloat), while tossing barrels of money at the dubious stuff.

    6. Rinse and repeat.

    Round and round we go....
    Last edited by Warfish; 08-27-2011 at 02:36 PM.

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    [QUOTE=Warfish;4118456]How Govt. spending is protected 101:

    1. Fund thousands of dubious and questionable projects, as well as many great and legitimate projects.

    2. When spending cuts are demanded, threaten to cut the best and most legitimate projects you have first.

    3. Sow discord and fear about the loss of those projects in the media. Hype how our society will crumble without them.

    4. Do not, under any circumstances, mention the thousands of duplicating, dubious, questional projects. Only the great stuff, and how losing it will hurt.

    5. Once the spendng is saved, continue to barely fund the great stuff (only enough to keep it afloat), while tossing barrels of money at the dubious stuff.

    6. Rinse and repeat.

    Round and round we go....[/QUOTE]

    Do you have a link?

  4. #4
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    [QUOTE=Buster;4118462]Do you have a link?[/QUOTE]

    [url]http://www.gpoaccess.gov/usbudget/[/url]

    Or if you prefer, [url]www.gfy.com[/url]

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    [QUOTE=Warfish;4118456]How Govt. spending is protected 101:

    1. Fund thousands of dubious and questionable projects, as well as many great and legitimate projects.

    2. When spending cuts are demanded, threaten to cut the best and most legitimate projects you have first.

    3. Sow discord and fear about the loss of those projects in the media. Hype how our society will crumble without them.

    4. [B]Do not, under any circumstances, mention the thousands of duplicating, dubious, questional projects.[/B] Only the great stuff, and how losing it will hurt.

    5. Once the spendng is saved, continue to barely fund the great stuff (only enough to keep it afloat), while tossing barrels of money at the dubious stuff.

    6. Rinse and repeat.

    Round and round we go....[/QUOTE]

    Tell me about it. With the limited amount of funds that NIH doles out for autism research, I think at one time there were upwards of a dozen MRI brain studies going on, to say nothing of the very expensive, mostly useless genetic and mirror neuron studies. That's ludicrous.

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    How ever many satellites we have up there now doesn't seem to bebe helping the accuracy of forecasts anyway.

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