The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has launched a new online portal for climate information and predictions. Climate.gov will serve as “a single point-of-entry for NOAA’s climate information, data, products and services,” according to the agency. The website is designed to address the needs of decision makers, scientists, educators, business users, and the public by providing climate forecasts to data end-users, such as natural resource managers, water utilities, and state governments.
The new Climate Service Portal is the first step to creation of a National Climate Service within NOAA. Currently, climate modeling, forecasting, and observations are spread throughout the agency. The new initiative would centralize these functions within NOAA, much like the National Weather Service.
Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke pointed out that the reorganization does not require Congressional approval. However, allocation of funding for the climate service will need to be addressed in the fiscal year 2011 budget. “This does not require formal legislation,” Locke said. “We do need to have the concurrence of the House and Senate appropriators, since ultimately it will require movement of funds that go to various agencies within NOAA to the new climate service office.” Locke hopes that the reorganization will be complete by October 2010.
Support for a National Climate Service has been growing. The House of Representatives included authorization for the program in the climate change legislation (HR 2454) the chamber passed last June. That effort ultimately stalled in the Senate.
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