NASA planning a 62% boost in climate science funding by 2015, to make up for cuts made during the George W. Bush administration.
NASA has announced a dramatic climate science budget increase this month. Although, it is really just a correction for dramatic budget cuts made during the George W. Bush era.
NASA’s Earth Science Division will get an additional $2.4 billion in funding, a 62% increase, in the next five years. The budget for NASA’s other programs, in the meantime, will generally remain flat.
NASA has 13 satellites in orbit at the moment, but all but one of them have exceeded their design lifetimes. NASA has been a climate science leader in recent years, but NASA’s Earth Science Division director Michael Freilich says that it would have “played a much smaller role” in Earth and climate science in the future due to old and failing systems if it weren’t for this funding boost.
NASA’s capabilities won’t change a whole lot, but the funding will provide for “improvements, innovations and replacements,” according to Freilich.
The division will launch up to 10 new missions to collect information about ice coverage, ocean temperatures, ozone depletion and how much carbon dioxide is being released through human activities by 2015. Five of the satellites for these missions have been in the works for years but, due to funding uncertainty, did not have firm launch dates.
With this funding, NASA is looking to broaden the data it collects so that it can examine the climate and Earth system from more angles simultaneously.
“The key to Earth system science is to make multiple measurements more or less simultaneously of many different quantities — that’s the only way we can understand how the various processes that define Earth system interact,” Freilich said.
It may have been invisible to many of us, but it must have been a big relief to NASA to receive this news and be given the confidence once again that it will continue to be a world leader in climate science research.
Image Credit: Kenny Miller via flickr under a CC license