U.S. Faces a Drop in Ability to Monitor Climate

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The U.S. capability to monitor the Earth's weather and climate is "at great risk," according to a new report by the National Academy of Sciences.

The report says that budget cuts and other setbacks will mean fewer observation instruments in orbit over the coming years.

And, authors of the new National Research Council report say, the decline is coming at a time when the need to understand the Earth's climate has never been greater.

The result, according to the report, is that the United States could lose its ability to measure fluctuations in climate and geology — and possibly to predict natural disasters. Over the past five years, NASA's budget for earth-science satellites has fallen by about one-third.

The group recommended new funding for NASA and NOAA that is aimed at putting more earth-monitoring equipment in orbit around the planet. Those two agencies have been developing replacement satellites, but the process has been both slow and over budget.

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