Funding for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s main research office would be nearly halved under the president’s latest budget request for the agency, ending much of its support for extramural grants. NOAA does however propose to establish a new research center geared toward overhauling its approach to developing weather models.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s budget will decrease 8 percent to $5.4 billion in fiscal year 2019 due to planned ramp downs in satellite and aircraft acquisition programs, while research programs will receive steady or increased funding.
Over the past two years, Congress passed legislation updating and endorsing a wide range of federal R&D activities, including marquee bills focused on quantum information science, energy research, weather forecasting, and hazard preparedness.
The National Science and Technology Council published a report this month outlining goals for ocean science and technology through 2028. It identifies modernizing research infrastructure and improving coupled ocean-coastal-hydrology models as high priorities.
After providing the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration with a 4 percent funding increase for fiscal year 2018, House and Senate appropriators are proposing 13 percent and 7 percent decreases, respectively, for fiscal year 2019. The decreases partly reflect planned ramp downs for NOAA’s flagship weather satellite programs and the end of one-time funding provided for the acquisition of new aircraft.
At the American Meteorological Society’s Washington Forum last month, FYI interviewed National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration acting head Tim Gallaudet about the direction NOAA is headed, including the agency’s efforts to improve weather and climate prediction. Gallaudet stressed that NOAA’s investments in science and technology are translating directly into benefits for the American people.
Draft spending bills advanced this week in the House offer initial indications of the outlook for federal science funding in fiscal year 2019. The picture emerging is largely positive, with House appropriators seeking substantial increases for several science agencies.
House Science Committee members and expert witnesses called for more robust space weather research, observations, and forecasting at a hearing last week. They also pushed for better defined roles in government, academia, and industry.
Members of Congress expressed concerns at recent hearings over the deep budget cuts proposed for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s weather and climate programs, with some pointing out they come in the wake of unprecedented destruction from the 2017 Atlantic hurricane season.