February 27 News: The Sequester Threatens U.S. Ability To Anticipate Severe Weather

The budget cuts in the sequester, set to take effect on Friday, March 1, could seriously compromise the ability of the National Weather Service to provide timely, reliable weather forecasts, according to both government officials and leaders in the industry. [WaPo]

“Sequestration substantially increases the risk that the United States will not be a weather-ready nation,” said Kevin Kelly, a lobbyist at Van Scoyoc Associates, who advocates for the weather enterprise. “Communities that experience a heightened risk of severe weather — which affects large portions of the nation in the spring and summer — face the chance of greater danger because the Weather Service will not be operating at 100 percent.”

The cash-strapped National Weather Service is facing increasing scrutiny over its inferior computer modeling power compared to international peers and is anticipating a likely gap in weather satellite coverage. Last week, the Government Accountability Office ranked the pending satellite gap among the top 30 threats facing the Federal government.

The Department of Commerce warned that not only will the loss of satellite data and imagery diminish the quality of forecasts, but so will other important weather data surrendered by spending cuts.

A new report, released today by Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), shows how more than 100 oil and gas companies are drilling in U.S. waters in the Gulf of Mexico without paying royalties to the American people. [Natural Resources Committee]


A new paper describes the ability of a substance called Graphene to convert a high percentage of the energy from sunlight into electricity, promising huge improvements in the efficiency of photovoltaic cells. [Science Blogs]

Solar forecasts could predict how much sunlight would reach the ground in a given location every 15 minutes for the next 36 hours, aiding the reliability of solar power. [Climate Central]

A BP executive testified today that a well blowout on the Deepwater Horizon rig was “an identified risk” and a “big” one, though he also emphasized safety was a “shared responsibility.” [NYTimes]

Emissions scenarios and climate models suggest carbon emissions are likely to result in more frequent and severe coral bleaching events, U.S. scientists report. []

Climate change, a fast growing population, ill-designed infrastructure, high levels of pollution and lack of law enforcement have made Egypt a country thirsty for water — both in terms of quantity and quality. [Egypt Independent]


European Union lawmakers on Tuesday backed a Commission plan to suspend for a year airline payments for carbon emissions. [Reuters]