May 21, 2009 | 2
The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) today forecast a hurricane season (June to November) in the Atlantic tamer than the one in 2008, which featured 16 storms severe enough to be named. But NOAA's hedging its bets, noting in a statement that "global weather patterns are imposing a greater uncertainty in the 2009 hurricane season outlook than in recent years."
According to the agency, there's a 70 percent chance of nine to 14 named Atlantic storms this year, as many as seven of those with the potential to become hurricanes, which feature winds in excess of 74 miles (121 kilometers) per hour. As many as three could reach "major hurricane" status, meaning their winds blow at more than 111 miles (179 kilometers) per hour. (An average Atlantic season has 11 named storms, including six hurricanes with two becoming major hurricanes.) Hurricanes originate as "tropical systems" once they reach sustained winds of at least 39 miles (63 kilometers) per hour. At the time a weather pattern is dubbed a "tropical system," it's also given a name. The name of this year's first storm will be Ana.
Mar 24, 2009 | 1
Jane Lubchenco, the newly confirmed director of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), says she wants to create a national climate service that would predict the effects of global warming on communities, similarly to how the National Weather Service sends out info about the weather.
In reports in today's New York Times and Nature News, Lubchenco, 61, says she hopes to establish the service to help elected officials and businesses make decisions that may be affected by climate change, such as the location of wind farms, buildings and roads. Such a service would be run in conjunction with another department, such as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) or NASA, Lubchenco told the Times.
Mar 20, 2009
The Senate yesterday gave its nod to President Obama's picks for key science slots in his administration. Both appointees are leading advocates of aggressive government action to stem and reverse climate change.
Lawmakers confirmed Harvard physicist John Holdren as director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, and Jane Lubchenco as chief of the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Lubchenco, 61, a marine biologist, becomes the first woman to head the agency, which oversees the National Weather Service and ocean and atmospheric research.
Holdren is well-known for leading the charge to reduce the threat of global warming as well as to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons. As Obama's top science adviser, he will help sculpt science and tech policy.
Mar 3, 2009
Senate confirmation of two of President Obama's science appointees —John Holdren to lead the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, and Jane Lubchenco to head the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) — is on hold because of political maneuvering on an unrelated issue.
The delay isn’t about the scientists' credentials, but is being used by Sen. Robert Menendez (D–N.J.) as a bargaining chip to gain his colleagues' support on a matter related to Cuba, according to The Washington Post, citing an unidentified source. It's not clear from the story what that matter is, but as the Nature blog The Great Beyond notes, Menendez has previously criticized the Castro regime. Menendez, who is Cuban-Americans, also opposes Senate legislation that would ease travel restrictions to the island nation.
Jan 29, 2009 | 1
Boaters adrift at sea, wayward hikers and stranded pilots take note: the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is taking steps to speed up rescues. As of next week, NOAA's COSPAS Search and Rescue Satellite Aided Tracking (SARSAT) system, perched high above Earth's atmosphere, will home in on digital (as opposed to analog) distress signals sent using a particular frequency, instead of wasting time trying to sort through an array of signals with the urgent ones potentially getting lost in the shuffle.
Digital distress signal transmitters using the 406 MHz frequency (which cost between $200 and $1,500 and are installed on aircraft and boats or are handheld) are more powerful and transmit a more accurate signal than their analog predecessors.
Sep 23, 2008 | 1
The chief of the federal agency that keeps watch over US waters and weather patterns has resigned after seven years at the helm of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA).
Retired Navy Vice Admiral Conrad Lautenbacher, Jr., undersecretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere, announced his resignation today. His last day on the job is Oct. 31.
The announcement on the NOAA Web site doesn’t say why Lautenbacher is stepping down from his post. But Anson Franklin, a NOAA spokesman, said the resignation isn't unexpected. "I don’t think it's been a surprise to anybody," Franklin tells us. "He's been here for almost seven years, which is a lifetime for political appointees. He's made it clear for a year or so that he'd probably depart before the end of the administration and ended up staying on. He feels he's completed the major projects he was working on and was just ready to move on."
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