Worse, it looks like we will be going backward with an impending deterioration in our weather satellite capabilities. We may lose the wind profilers (upward pointing radars that sense the winds above the ground every six minutes).
The U.S. is the acknowledged world leader in adverse weather. Those who have seen my presentations have seen the figure of $500,000,000,000 in weather-related losses in 2010 (the last year for which figures are available). I believe 2011 was worse. Even in an economy the size of ours, those are huge numbers.
It is vital that weather forecasting capabilities improve or we are doomed to suffer ever-growing weather-related losses in terms of both lives and economics. That point is made in an op-ed posted on the Washington Post's website this morning:
For those of us who track U.S. weather capabilities, we know two things: ournational monitoring and forecasting capabilities are trending downward and weather is directly linked to a key topic of the presidential campaigns—the economy.
The University Corporation of Atmospheric Research concluded last year that the average annual impact of routine weather on the U.S. economy is estimated at nearly one-half trillion dollars. Couple that with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s recent announcement that July 2012 was the hottest month ever recorded for the nation, and one can quickly understand why more and more businesses are managing risk around weather-related disruptions. This trend should be of key interest to both campaigns given its potential economic impact..
The next Administration should:
* Implement policies that provide the private sector better access to the vast amounts of government Earth observation data that are currently inaccessible;
* Establish an E-Q-Tel organization based on the successful In-Q-Tel model that would help to accelerate Earth-related technologies that advance environmental intelligence; and
* Task the Secretary of Commerce to work with industry and government leaders to develop a national strategy for this business area.
Nothing is better for the nation’s economic crisis than improving our growth engines. In the area of environmental information, a relatively small, strategic investment would go a long way to leverage the existing science investment, benefit U.S. business, spur economic growth, and create a more resilient nation.
I agree 100%. This is a non-partisan issue where our investments will quickly pay for themselves many times over.