Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Budget Request for Fiscal Year 22: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

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Detailed figures from the discretionary request are available in FYI’s Federal Science Budget Tracker and highlights are summarized below. Oceanic and atmospheric research

The budget of NOAA’s Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research would increase by a third to $816 million, with much of the additional funding directed to establishing new climate research activities and bolstering ocean and coastal resilience programs. Weather research programs would see a smaller proportion of the increase. In addition, NOAA requests a $10 million increase through a separate account to establish two new teams under its Regional Integrated Sciences and Assessments program, which offers tailored climate risk information to state and local decision-makers. The funds would also go toward establishing a Climate-Smart Communities Initiative that would help train 20 cities around the U.S. in resilience-building.

The remainder of the increase would support research on marine ecosystem responses to climate change, a “grand challenge” effort to improve precipitation predictions, and an initiative to extend regional climate change projections out to 2050. NOAA explains the initiative would “develop standardized and accessible climate projections with society-relevant data delivery services to improve climate risk information equity and assist decision making across a wide range of stakeholders and economic sectors.” Internationally, NOAA proposes to take on a leading role in assembling the Global Stocktake, a mechanism for assessing progress towards achieving the emissions reduction goals of the Paris Agreement. Accordingly, NOAA requests a $20 million increase for sustained atmospheric observations supported by its climate laboratories and cooperative institutes. The funds would go toward activities such as expanding observational platforms for emissions monitoring and better characterizing allowable amounts of emissions under different scenarios.

The program would allocate $40 million of the increase to the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Climate that the administration is proposing to establish with a total initial budget of $500 million drawn from across various federal agencies. NOAA’s contribution would support R&D on ways to sequester carbon emissions in coastal and marine ecosystems. Climate research. The budget for the Climate Research division would increase $112 million to $294 million. Of the increase, $67 million would go to the Climate Competitive Research program, which issues grants to NOAA research laboratories and external institutions.

NOAA does not specify a budget for its recently launched Earth Prediction Innovation Center, which will host a code development sandbox to help external researchers contribute to NOAA’s models. The agency announced in May that it had selected Raytheon Intelligence and Space to design and develop the center. Weather research. The budget for the Weather and Air Chemistry Research division would increase $12 million to $152 million under the request. Of the increase, $7 million would support a new Fire Weather Testbed that would bring together emergency managers and NOAA researchers to develop decision-support tools and models that help protect lives and property and predict air-quality impacts. Most of the remainder would support the design of a new phased array weather radar.

Satellite acquisition and operations Ocean and coastal research. NOAA proposes to increase funding for the Ocean, Coastal, and Great Lakes Research division budget by $64 million to $295 million. The National Sea Grant College Program would receive a $35 million increase to expand research and engagement with coastal communities on natural hazards resilience and an additional $5 million to support partnerships with Minority Serving Institutions. Most of the remaining increase for the division would be used to deploy additional ocean observation platforms such as Argo floats and buoys. NOAA specifically plans to expand coverage in the tropical Pacific, North Atlantic, Arctic, Gulf of Mexico, and off the coast of southern California. Supercomputing. Funding for the sustainment of supercomputing systems would increase from $43 million to $54 million under the request. NOAA states the increase would enable it to provide “dedicated funding support” for the Hera supercomputer in Fairmont, West Virginia, which was initially funded through a supplemental appropriation. Hera is one of five NOAA supercomputers used for R&D and recently underwent an upgrade that more than doubled its computing power.

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