June 2, 2011: Markey to NOAA: Are We Prepared for Extreme Weather Events?

Congressman Asks for Analysis of Recent Extreme Weather Events, Effects of Republican Budget Cuts on Monitoring, Citizen Warnings, Research
WASHINGTON (June 2, 2011) – In the wake of extreme weather events like this week’s spate of tornados in Massachusetts, and now the beginning of hurricane season in the United States, Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) today asked the national scientific body tasked with monitoring and analyzing the nation’s weather and climate for answers about these extreme weather events and about our national preparedness for extreme weather in a warming world.
“I am concerned that we are increasing the risk of extreme weather events as we continue to add carbon pollution to the atmosphere from the burning of fossil fuels and that we are not adequately preparing for these increased risks," writes Rep. Markey to Dr. Jane Lubchenco, the head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
In the letter to NOAA, Rep. Markey asks several questions for analysis by the agency, including:
--Whether the buildup of carbon in the atmosphere is increasing the intensity of thunderstorms, which is a prerequisite for tornado formation.
--How increased temperatures in the Gulf of Mexico can influence tornado formation.
--How has hurricane formation and intensity been affected by increased temperatures.
--How are Republican budget cuts to NOAA affecting the agency’s ability to monitor storms, give timely warnings to citizens in danger, and research future potential risks from climate change.
The full letter is available HERE.
“This spring has made clear the need to understand and prepare for extreme weather events,” writes Rep. Markey. “NOAA’s work is critical to preparing the United States for these risks now and in the future.”
The Republican budget cuts funding to science agencies, including NOAA, by 13 percent from the president’s 2012 budget request. If this level of cut is carried through to the NOAA budget, it would decrease by $700 million.
The 2011 and 2012 funding cuts will delay the launch of U.S. Joint Polar Satellite System, creating the potential for a data gap when the current satellites reach the end of their useful life in 2016. Without polar satellite data, the weather predictions for events like the 2010 “Snowmageddon” snowstorms would have been drastically underestimated and would have significantly impacted the preparations and precautions taken by citizens and emergency managers. These satellites are also crucial to predicting heavy rainfall in the United States, and allow NOAA to provide flood warnings days, rather than hours, in advance, decreasing risks to life and property.

# # #