Turbulence Ahead for Weather Satellites
A potential gap in weather satellite coverage could impact daily and long-term forecasts and research, scientists say.
But a recent U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) report highlights the fact that this monitoring network—which weather forecasters and climate researchers rely on—is in trouble.
That's because these U.S.-owned satellites are aging, and there are serious concerns about whether their replacements will be ready by the time they start to break down, said J. Marshall Shepherd, president of the American Meteorological Society and a professor at the University of Georgia in Athens. (Read about the history of satellites.)
The replacement program, known as the Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS), has suffered under ballooning budgets, mismanagement, and political wrangling. That's partly what prompted the GAO to put weather data on its list of government operations at high risk.