NOAA chief urges creation of a new National Climate Service to coordinate information
- NOAA chief urges creation of a new National Climate Service to
By RANDOLPH E. SCHMID , Associated Press
Last update: May 13, 2008 - 4:20 PM
WASHINGTON - With concerns about global warming rising along with the
planet's temperature, the head of the federal agency in change of
weather research and forecasting is proposing creation of a new
National Climate Service.
Conrad C. Lautenbacher said Tuesday a climate service within his
agency could combine data from the research and analysis work done by
several agencies, as well as coordinate climate information for the
"In the future I think it would make a lot of sense for us to separate
the science from the political furball of policy," he said.
Lautenbacher is head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Administration, which includes the National Weather Service, National
Ocean Service, National Marine Fisheries Service and other activities.
Currently, the U.S. Climate Change Science Program integrates climate
research by 13 government agencies. Lautenbacher said he felt it would
make a more sense to have something that is a lot more organized,
pulling together data from both U.S. agencies and other countries
around the world.
Today everybody just cherry-picks the data that support their point of
view, Lautenbacher said of the debate over climate change. "We need to
deal with this in a scientific manner."
Whether there is warming or not, no one doesn't want solid, scientific
information, Lautenbacher said. That, he added, could depoliticize the
The Bush Administration has been reluctant to subscribe to limits on
carbon emissions that other countries have sought in an effort to
combat global warming.
But Lautenbacher said the White House has signed off on "the idea" of
a climate service, and he said he plans to seek funds to help organize
it in the 2010 budget.
In NOAA, for example, the Climate Prediction Center that looks at
long-term outlooks is part of the Weather Service's National Centers
for Environmental Prediction, while data on climate is compiled by the
National Climatic Data Center, a part of the National Environmental
Satellite, Data and Information Service.
The difference between weather and climate is basically one of time.
Weather happens from day to day, while climate is the overall averages
— and extremes — of weather over seasons and years.
Some have described the difference as "climate is what you expect,
weather is what you get."
A new Climate Service would not have any regulatory power, he
stressed. It would provide data to other agencies for their use — for
example to the Transportation Department, Department of Agriculture
and Department of Energy.
And a National Climate Service would not take over climate research
carried out by other agencies such as NASA, Environmental Protection
Agency or U.S. Geological Survey, he said.
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