News FocusU.S. Science and Austerity

A Difficult View From Space for NOAA

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Science  11 Nov 2011:
Vol. 334, Issue 6057, pp. 757-758
DOI: 10.1126/science.334.6057.757

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The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is scrambling to get several long-delayed weather and climate satellite projects off the ground without causing its "wet" fisheries and ocean programs to dry up. It's also struggling to preserve the relatively small pot of research money that goes out to nonagency scientists. This year, the agency has proposed more than doubling spending on satellites while essentially flat-lining its wet programs. Overall, that means that building and operating orbiters would claim more than one-third of NOAA's proposed $5.4 billion budget. If its overall budget stagnates, however, NOAA's leaders and Congress will be forced to either trim the agency's nonsatellite programs or scale back the number or capabilities of those space-based monitors.