In Minnesota, we know how important it is to stay a step ahead of severe weather. Unfortunately, our ability to accurately predict the weather may be in danger.
Due to shrinking budgets, mission changes and delays, the total number of scientific instruments monitoring the Earth from space could decline by 75 percent by 2020. These government-owned satellites provide about 90 percent of the data used by the National Weather Service for forecasting.
We wanted to talk about the future of weather forecasting after a recent New York Times op-ed on the topic:
Last month, the National Research Council concluded that the nation's system of Earth-observing satellites is in a state of "precipitous decline" and warned of a "slowing or even reversal of the steady gains in weather forecast accuracy over many years..."
The causes identified by the research council, an arm of the National Academy of Sciences, are many: technological failures, cost increases, changes in Congressional and administration priorities and -- above all -- the failure to devote adequate resources. For example, the annual budget for NASA's Earth Science Division has fallen to below $1.5 billion from about $2 billion a decade ago, far below what scientists agree is needed.
J. Marshall Shepherd, geography professor and director of the Atmospheric Sciences Program at the University of Georgia, will join The Daily Circuit Tuesday to discuss what's at stake for weather forecasting in the future. Paul Douglas, founder of WeatherNation, will also join the discussion.