Friday, January 14, 2005

No comment

From Science, Vol 307, Issue 5707, 188, 14 January 2005 (via Environmental News Service):
Congress has eliminated funding for a fledgling network of 110 observation stations intended to provide a definitive, long-term climate record for the United States.

The surprise assault on the Climate Reference Network (CRN) was buried in the 3000-page omnibus spending package for 2005 signed last month by President George W. Bush (Science, 3 December 2004, p. 1662). Legislators also took a bite out of a long-established atmospheric monitoring network that includes the historic time sequence of increasing carbon dioxide levels measured at Hawaii's Mauna Loa. Both networks are key pillars in a much-touted international "system of systems" for earth observation that the Bush Administration has called essential for resolving uncertainties in the connection between greenhouse gas emissions and climate change (Science, 20 August 2004, p. 1096). While federal officials say they plan to "limp along" this year and hope for better news in 2006, some scientists worry that the cuts signal a lack of political support for filling those gaps.

"[CRN] ties everything together," says Richard Hallgren, former director of the National Weather Service and executive director emeritus of the American Meteorological Society. "Eliminating it would be an absolute disaster."

The excision of CRN's $3 million budget is part of a $10.6 million cut in the $24.3 million climate observations and services program, which supports a far-flung monitoring system operated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The reference network was part of the president's 2005 request for NOAA and was funded in separate bills that had moved through the House and Senate. But "it disappeared" after conferees completed work on the massive bill that bankrolled dozens of federal agencies, notes program head David Goodrich. . . .