Fears of President Donald Trump deleting climate data seem to have morphed into a fear of “data gaps” due to the White House’s proposed budget cuts.
The New York Times reports scientists fear Trump’s budget will cause a “data gap” for long-term climate monitoring studying global warming since the administration proposes cutting four satellite programs.
One scientist who relies on NASA satellites told NYT that Trump’s budget is “giving my colleagues and myself heart palpitations” over fears the data that could be lost due to spending cuts.
Trump’s budget proposal “is as much a political document as a fiscal plan,” NYT reports, “in this case designed to send a message that the administration intends to pursue a long-sought goal of some conservatives: to clamp down on NASA’s study of Earth rather than space.”
What goes unmentioned is what the Trump administration actually proposed.
The White House’s budget plan, released in March, calls for cutting $102 million from NASA’s Earth science program, which conducts global warming research. NYT reports this, noting NASA’s overall budget of $19.1 billion.
What NYT doesn’t mention is the Earth science budget is only cut five percent from $1.9 billion to $1.8 billion. Budget cuts were definitely nowhere near what many activists claimed it would be, spreading fears of “data deletion” and satellites falling out of the sky. (RELATED: Fears Trump Would Gut Climate Agencies Are Overblown)
The budget “terminates four Earth science missions … and reduces funding for Earth science research grants,” according to the White House. The sky is not falling.
NYT also buried another interesting tid bit on the “data gaps” worrying scientists — they are the products of decisions made years before Trump took office.
NASA knows its satellite programs have limited lifespans, but it didn’t adequately plan to replace climate monitoring systems.
NASA’s Calipso and Cloudsat satellites were launched about a decade ago for example. The satellite programs have studied clouds and atmospheric particles since 2006. NASA launched its Terra satellite in 1999, and it could last until the 2020s. The Aqua satellite, which studies Earth’s water cycle, launched in 2002.
In fact, NYT even noted that “[l]ong before President Trump was elected, climate researchers have warned that the nation’s climate monitoring capabilities … were less than adequate and faced data collection gaps and other uncertainties.”
The New York Times also noted “the National Academy of Sciences is working on recommendations for new monitoring missions for the space agency for the next 10 years,” which is expected to be released later this year.
NASA is extending the life of existing satellite programs to stave off any data gaps, and the Trump administration wants to maintain funding for NOAA weather satellites “in order to provide forecasters with critical weather data to help protect life and property.”
The White House also proposed $1 billion for the National Weather Service to maintain its “forecasting capabilities … while continuing to promote efficient and effective operations.”
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