Hidden Nook

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Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Are US Weather Satellites In Trouble?

[Media Source*]

(New Scientist Space) The next generation of US weather satellites is woefully behind schedule and billions of dollars over budget.

This could potentially lead to a four-year gap in polar-orbiting satellite coverage for the US. If existing satellites break down during this period, the US may have to rely on European satellites to supplement its weather forecasting ability.

Polar satellites are responsible for approximately 90% of the civilian and military weather model data and their loss may be felt more on Weather.com than in the deserts of Iraq (although that last line of thought is debatable). Representatives of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) have hinted that this may impact weather reports for the American public, and unless either NASA or Europe helps resolve the issue the US may be in for some "fuzzy weather."

(New Scientist Space) NOAA Administrator Vice Admiral Conrad Lautenbacher told Congress it is difficult to assess the impact how such a gap in polar satellite coverage could affect the accuracy of weather forecasts because weather is so localised. Depending on where extreme weather condition occur, accuracy may only be reduced by a few percentage points, but it might also drop by as much as 50%

Since most weathermen are "generally off" about weather conditions (perhaps the only job where one can be consistently be wrong and still receive a pay check) this should not be as disastrous as some may fear. Although the US economy is recovering from Katrina and Rita, Congress will probably give NASA the necessary funds to resolve this issue. After all, what American wants to receive their weather reports from Europe?

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By Darnell Clayton • 12:40 AM • Email Post • •


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