Budget Cuts Could Hurt Extreme Weather Reporting
A climate center based in Reno, Nevada has indicated that President Donald Trump’s proposed budget cuts could force it to shut down.
Trump’s proposed federal budget cuts for fiscal-year 2018 include an 82% cut to funding for the Western Regional Climate Center and five other similar centers across the United States.
The funding cut to the climate center could kill 10 local jobs in Reno and remove $875,000 from the city’s economy. Worse yet; the cuts will negatively affect flood, drought, and wildfire research.
The Western Regional Climate Center provides weather-related information to relevant parties, including firefighters, ranchers, law enforcement agencies, and policymakers. The center is part of the Desert Research Institute in Nevada.
The climate center currently has 250 weather stations in 11 western states. It specializes in studying droughts, and it provides its expertise to interested parties. The center also collects and archives decades of weather data, particularly related to wildfires, and it likewise arranges and presents the information in an intelligible format, primarily to firefighters.
The archived data on wildfires and the free information created by the center are then used by firefighters in identifying the positions that they should take in the event of a fire.
Earlier this year, the climate center provided critical data about floods to agencies across northern Nevada.
The center’s real-time drought data is also used by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in making decisions and relaying information to people involved in agriculture and ranching.
In addition, law enforcement agencies also use the climate center’s archived data to analyze traffic accidents and pinpoint who was at fault.
The Desert Research Institute says that the climate center would have to shut down by March 2018 if the proposed budget cuts are finalized. The institute has warned that, if the funding cut is approved, the climate center would have to stop collecting weather data and shut down its computer servers. That means interested parties would no longer be able to access parts of the center’s archived data.
“Cuts to climate center in Reno unjustified: Our view,” Reno Gazette-Journal, June 26, 2017.