President Obama’s FY2011 Budget has 21% funding increase for USGCRP climate science research


Alongside major new investments in clean energy development, President Obama’s FY2011 Budget proposes $2.56 billion in funding for climate and global change research conducted under the U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) umbrella. This $439 increase over the FY2010 level brings climate research funding to a level higher than under any previous administration dating back to 1989. 

Climate Change Research and Development is described in the Analytical Perspectives volume of the President’s Budget, on page 342 of the Research and Development section: 

“The Budget proposes $2.6 billion for the USGCRP, which integrates Federal research and solutions for climate and global change. The 2011 Budget supports scientific research and applications to support the goals set forth in the program’s strategic plan. These activities can be grouped under the following areas: improve our knowledge of Earth’s past and present climate variability and change; improve our understanding of natural and human forces of climate change; improve our capability to model and predict future conditions and impacts; assess the Nation’s vulnerability to current and anticipated impacts of climate change; and improve the Nation’s ability to respond to climate change by providing climate information and decision support tools that are useful to policy makers and the general public.”

The Office of Management and Budget factsheet “Creating the Clean Energy Economy of Tomorrow” says in reference to the USGCRP budget:

“Invest in the Understanding of Climate Change and Its Impacts. While climate policies are developed and investments in clean energy technologies are made, investments to understand the impacts of climate change are also crucial. Coastal areas, floodplains, and water systems will all be affected by the changing climate, and it is vital that we understand the potential effects of climate change so businesses, farmers, ranchers, and the entire Nation can prepare for them now. That is why the Budget invests $2.6 billion to deepen our understanding of climate change and its impact. The United States also will take prompt, substantial action to help the least developed and most vulnerable countries adapt and build resilience to the impacts of climate change.”

The Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), which oversees the USGCRP, explains in a factsheet (A New Era for Research on Climate and Global Change: The U.S. Global Change Research Program in the 2011 Budget):

“After several years of declining funding, the Obama Administration has revitalized the USGCRP. The 2009 Omnibus Appropriations Act signed by President Obama reversed the downward funding trends in the USGCRP, and the Recovery Act provided an additional one-time boost for key climate programs; the recently enacted 2010 appropriations keep USGCRP on an upward trajectory, and the 2011 Budget sustains the commitment with a substantial $439 million increase. …

“Besides enhancing research and modeling of the physical climate system, the Budget will allow for a comprehensive, coordinated focus on four areas of particular need: Earth observations, adaptation research, integrated assessment, and climate services. Reports and general information about the USGCRP are available on the program’s website:

The USGCRP Budget Table [PDF] page from the budget’s Analytical Perspectives document shows the USGCRP budget for each of 10 participating agencies, including the FY2011 request, the FY2010 estimate, and the FY2009 actual (see bottom of table for USGCRP budget). 

The OSTP factsheeet on the USGCRP budget notes the following highlights with reference to some of the key participating agencies:

– The Department of Commerce’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is a leading sponsor of oceanic and atmospheric research and is one of the key sponsors of climate science capabilities in the Federal government. The 2011 Budget allocates $437 million for the Department of Commerce’s USGCRP efforts, predominantly from NOAA, an increase of $77 million or 21 percent over the 2010 level.

– The National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) budget includes a bold new investment in climate science. NASA’s Earth science program conducts first-of-a-kind demonstration flights of sensors in air and space in an effort to foster scientific understanding of the Earth system and to improve the ability to forecast climate change and natural disasters. The President has directed NASA to accelerate the development of new satellites that the National Research Council recommended as Earth science priorities, in addition to flying several research satellites currently in development, conducting a campaign to monitor changes in polar ice sheets, and pursuing enhancements to climate models. NASA will also develop and fly a replacement of the Orbiting Carbon Observatory (OCO), a mission designed to identify global carbon sources and sinks that was lost when its launch vehicle failed in 2009.

– The National Science Foundation (NSF) is the primary source of support for academic research for most nonbiomedical disciplines, funding basic research across the entire spectrum of the sciences and engineering. NSF USGCRP support totals $370 million in the 2011 Budget, an increase of 16 percent over the 2010 level.

– The 2011 Budget provides $81 million for USGCRP programs in the Department of the Interior, an increase of $18 million or 29 percent over the 2010 funding level. Interior’s lead science agency, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), funds several programs to understand the impacts of climate change on natural resources, including the Climate Effects Network, the National Climate Change and Wildlife Science Center (NCCESC), and biological and geological carbon sequestration assessments.

Nick Sundt at the World Wildlife Fund has developed and posted an original table showing budget trends for the USGCRP since 1989. In constant 2008 dollars, the proposed FY2011 budget is second in size only to the Administration’s FY2009 USGCRP budget, which was augmented by a substantial one-time infusion of Recovery Act stimulus funding. 

The Budget Overview volume summarizes a wide range of individual agency activities. The following includes information on activities relating to climate science research and development (not all are included in the formal USGCRP budget crosscut):

Department of Commerce (National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration)

Supports Improvements in Weather Forecasting, Climate Monitoring, Fisheries Management, and Ocean Programs: The Budget maintains continuity of NOAA satellite coverage needed for monitoring weather and climate by providing over $2 billion to fund the development and acquisition of NOAA’s polar orbiting and geo-stationary weather satellite systems, satellite-borne measurements of sea level and other climate variables, and other space-based observations. The Budget supports enhancements to climate science and services, including improved modeling and assessments at global and regional levels. The Budget advances the President’s National Ocean Policy with funding for coastal zone management and planning, competitive grants in support of regional ocean partnerships, integrated ecosystem assessments, catch-share based fisheries management, and research on ocean acidification.

National Aeronautic and Space Administration

Improves Our Understanding of Global Climate Change: NASA’s Earth science program conducts first-of-a-kind demonstration flights of sensors in air and space in an effort to foster scientific understanding of the Earth system and to improve the ability to forecast climate change and natural disasters. The Budget accelerates the development of new satellites the National Research Council recommended as Earth Science priorities. The Budget also supports several research satellites currently in development, a campaign to monitor changes in polar ice sheets, and enhancements to climate models. In addition, the Budget provides funds for NASA to develop and fly a replacement for the Orbiting Climate Observatory, a mission designed to identify global carbon sources and sinks that was lost when its launch vehicle failed in 2009.

Environmental Protection Agency

Supports Efforts to Mitigate Climate Change: The President has called on the Congress to enact forward-looking energy legislation that would spur U.S. development of advanced, clean energy technologies to reduce our dependence on oil, strengthen our energy and national security, create new jobs, and restore America’s position as a global leader in efforts to mitigate climate change and address its worst consequences. The Administration supports a comprehensive market-based climate change policy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the United States more than 80 percent below 2005 levels by 2050. The President also supports a near-term target in the range of a 17-percent reduction by 2020. The Budget includes $21 million, an increase of $4 million from 2010 enacted levels, to implement the Mandatory Greenhouse Gas Reporting Rule and ensure the availability of high quality emissions data that will serve as the basis for effective climate policy.

National Science Foundation

Increases Sustainability Research: The Budget provides $766 million, an increase of $105 million over comparable 2010 levels, for a new effort at NSF that represents a fundamental shift in how an agency defines and supports multidisciplinary energy and climate research. This new cross-agency effort is an integrated approach to increasing U.S. energy independence, enhancing environmental stewardship, reducing energy and carbon intensity, and generating sustained economic growth.

Department of the Interior

Establishes Climate Science Centers: Managing ecosystems and wildlife habitat that are facing the impact of climate change requires reliable data on changes, supporting science, and tools to bring these together to inform land management decisions. DOI is establishing a framework, which includes Climate Science Centers that will focus on the impact of climate change on a broad array of Departmental Resources. The Budget includes an increase of $14 million for these Centers to provide land managers with vital decision support tools based on the latest science.

Lauren Morello reports in ClimateWire February 2 (by subscription):

The White House budget plan would also make major changes to a long-troubled environmental satellite program designed to provide weather and climate information to the military and civilian science agencies.

The budget of the National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System (NPOESS), now five years behind schedule, has more than doubled since it was proposed by President Clinton, ballooning from $6.5 billion to $13.9 billion despite a previous effort to restructure the program in 2006.

Now, the Obama administration is proposing to split the program among the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, NASA and the Defense Department.

With the first NPOESS satellite scheduled to launch next year, the three agencies will split responsibility for four subsequent orbiters. NOAA, with NASA as its procurement agent, will supervise two satellites designed to orbit Earth in mid-afternoon, while the Pentagon will oversee satellites designed for early morning orbits.

That’s in line with recommendations issued last fall by a blue-ribbon panel, which concluded that NPOESS would have an “extraordinarily low probability of success” without drastic changes to its management structure. Part of the problem, the panel’s report said, is that the Defense Department has sought to hold down costs at the expense of developing new monitoring abilities to meet NOAA’s science needs.

NOAA officials said the split would help them meet their science objectives, though it could increase long-term costs for the agency.

“The White House decision to create the Joint Polar Satellite System by restructuring NPOESS will improve the development of critical Earth-observing instruments required for improving weather forecasts, climate monitoring and warning leads for severe storms,” NOAA Administrator Jane Lubchenco said yesterday.

Earlier posts:
Will Obama’s FY2011 budget fund essential new climate change research priorities?

U.S. Global Change Research Program: Budget reporting impedes meaningful oversight

Climate change endangerment to human health: Where is the Obama Administration’s plan?

White House Science Office reactivating U.S. National Assessment of Climate Change

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