NOAA Chief Calls for a National Climate Service

Head of NOAA proposes new National Climate Service“Climate is what you expect, weather is what you get”

Conrad C. Lautenbacher, head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association, urged last week that a Climate Service be formed within the agency to combine the research and analysis of several other agencies and coordinate climate information for the government.

The NOAA includes the National Weather Service, National Ocean Service, and National Marine Fisheries Service.

“In the future”, Lautenbacher says “I think it would make a lot of sense for us to separate the science from the political furball of policy”

Something I don’t think should wait until “the future” nor should depend on any government agency.

Lautenbacher’s point is better taken as one of consolidating the data and analysis to help streamline the science and avoid cherry-picking of facts from this source or that source to serve an idealogical or political agenda.  

Currently the U.S. Climate Change Science Program pulls data from 13 government agencies. In th NOAA, the Climate Prediction Center is part of the Weather Service’s National Centers for Environmental Prediction, while climate data is compiled by the National Climatic Data Center which is part of the National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service.

That’s a mouthful and could be consolidated in one National Climate Service, which could not only organize the data and analysis from the various U.S. government agencies, but from international governments as well.

A National Climate Service would serve no regulatory function, says Lautenbacher, but provide data to help regulatory agencies set policy based on a comprehensive source of data. Nor would it take over research done by other agencies such as NASA, the Environmental Protection Agency, or the U.S. Geological Survey.

Lautenbacher hopes that a National Climate Service would help “depoliticize” the arguments over global warming.

The White House is reported as having “signed off” on the idea and Lautenbacher plans to seek funds to help organize a climate service in the 2010 budget.

Associated Press

Thomas Schueneman
Thomas Schueneman
Tom is the founder and managing editor of and the PlanetWatch Group. His work appears in Triple Pundit, Slate, Cleantechnia, Planetsave, Earth911, and several other sustainability-focused publications. Tom is a member of the Society of Environmental Journalists.

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