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.
The Trump administration has proposed to decrease the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s budget by 20 percent in fiscal year 2019, echoing many of the cuts to research and other programs requested for fiscal year 2018. The new proposal would cut hundreds of weather forecasting positions while keeping the development of NOAA’s satellite observations programs on track.
The second Decadal Survey for Earth Science and Applications from Space, finalized in early January, calls on NASA's Earth Science Division to prioritize its missions based on a tiered program of target observations. It also provides recommendations for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and U.S. Geological Survey.
Barry Myers, the nominee to head the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, went to great lengths at his confirmation hearing to assure senators he would respect and defend NOAA science as well as avoid any potential conflicts of interest arising from his connections to a weather company he co-founded.