Climate Research Faces Years Without Satellites

Scientists warn that death of aging satellites will leave dangerous gaps in knowledge
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 6, 2009 3:24 AM CST
This image provided by NASA shows Hurricane Ike approaching the coast of Texas.    (AP Photo/NASA)
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(Newser) – Scientists studying climate change are going to lose their eyes in the sky just when satellite data is most needed to make vital decisions, NPR reports. Years of underinvestment and squabbling between government agencies mean the climate satellites now in orbit will fail long before new ones can replace them, leaving researchers facing a blind spot that could last a decade.

Scientists say both NASA and NOAA have failed to make climate studies a priority, with NASA focusing on space science and NOAA on fisheries and current weather. The stimulus package provides funds for new climate satellites, but researchers warn that the data gap created by the lag between funding and launch will make it much harder to accurately predict shifts in the climate and prepare for them properly.