Aug 3, 2022 - Energy & Environment

Senate climate deal includes NOAA spending boost

Illustration collage of burned paper framing an environmental scene with an evacuation route road sign

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

The fragile Senate climate deal would provide a funding infusion for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, including for its climate and weather forecasting capabilities.

Why it matters: Accurate weather and climate forecasts are even more critical as extreme weather events become more severe due to human-caused global warming.

Context: NOAA's supercomputing capabilities lag behind other countries, like the European Union.

  • In addition, the agency's fleet of hurricane research aircraft, including one modified Gulfstream jet and two WP-3D Orion hurricane hunters, are in need of bolstering or replacement.
  • These aircraft gather critical data for improving forecast accuracy.

Zoom in: The bill would provide $490 million for weather forecasting and research. This would include...

  • $200 million for NOAA Oceanic and Atmospheric Research and forecasting for weather and climate.
  • $190 million for new NOAA supercomputing capacity.
  • $100 million for NOAA to acquire a G-550 hurricane hunter jet.

The intrigue: Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), who chairs the Senate Commerce Committee that oversees NOAA, pushed for the agency funding.

  • Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.) secured funding for the G-550 reconnaissance jet that would give NOAA fleet redundancy.

What they're saying: In a statement to Axios, Cantwell called the provisions "the largest-ever one-time investment in weather forecasting."

  • “Improved weather forecasts save lives, jobs, and businesses by helping communities prepare better for extreme weather," Cantwell said.
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