Dr. Berrien Moore IIIDirectorInstitute for the Study of Earth, Oceans, and Space, University of New HampshireStatement ofBerrien Moore III, Ph.D.University Distinguished ProfessorDirector of the Institute for the Study of Earth, Oceans, and SpaceUniversity of New HampshireandCo-Chair, Committee on Earth Science and Applications from SpaceNational Research CouncilThe National Academiesbefore theThe U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and TransportationSpace, Aeronautics, and Related Sciences SubcommitteeHearing on
“National Imperatives for Earth Science Research”7 March 2007
Mr. Chairman, Ranking Minority Member, and members of the committee: thank you for inviting me here to testify today. My name is Berrien Moore, and I am a professor of systems research at the University of New Hampshire and Director of the Institute for the Study of Earth, Oceans, and Space I appear today in my capacity as co-chair of the National Research Council (NRC)’s Committee on Earth Science and Applications from Space: A Community Assessment and Strategy for the Future.
The National Research Council is the unit of the National Academies that is responsible for organizing independent advisory studies for the federal government on science and technology. In response to requests from NASA, NOAA, and the USGS, the NRC has recently completed a “decadal survey” of Earth science and applications from space. (“Decadal surveys” are the 10-year prioritized roadmaps that the NRC has done for 40 years for the astronomers; this is the first time it is being done for Earth science and applications from space.) Among the key tasks in the charge to the decadal survey committee were to:
The NRC survey committee has prepared an extensive report in response to this charge, which I am pleased to be able to summarize here today. Over 100 leaders in the Earth science community participated on the survey steering committee or its seven study panels. It is noteworthy that this was the first Earth science decadal survey, and the committee and panel members did an excellent job in fulfilling the charge and establishing a consensus – a task many previously considered impossible. A copy of the full report has also been provided for your use.The committee’s vision is encapsulated in the following declaration, first stated in the committee’s April 2005 Interim Report:“Understanding the complex, changing planet on which we live, how it supports life, and how human activities affect its ability to do so in the future is one of the greatest intellectual challenges facing humanity. It is also one of the most important challenges for society as it seeks to achieve prosperity, health, and sustainability.”As detailed in the committee’s final report, and as we were profoundly reminded by the latest report from the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the world faces significant and profound environmental challenges: shortages of clean and accessible freshwater, degradation of terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems, increases in soil erosion, changes in the chemistry of the atmosphere, declines in fisheries, and above all the rapid pace of substantial changes in climate. These changes are not isolated; they interact with each other and with natural variability in complex ways that cascade through the environment across local, regional, and global scales. Addressing these societal challenges requires that we confront key scientific questions related to ice sheets and sea level change, large-scale and persistent shifts in precipitation and water availability, transcontinental air pollution, shifts in ecosystem structure and function in response to climate change, impacts of climate change on human health, and occurrence of extreme events, such as hurricanes, floods and droughts, heat waves, earthquakes, and volcanic eruptions.Yet at a time when the need has never been greater, we are faced with an Earth observation program that will dramatically diminish in capability over the next 5-10 years.The Interim Report described how satellite observations have been critical to scientific efforts to understand the Earth as a system of connected components, including the land, oceans, atmosphere, biosphere, and solid-Earth. It also gave examples of how these observations have served the nation, helping to save lives and protect property, strengthening national security, and contributing to the growth of our economy through provision of timely environmental information. The Interim Report documented that NASA had cancelled, scaled back, or delayed at least six planned missions (Table 1), including a Landsat continuity mission. This led to the main finding in the Interim Report: “this system of environmental satellites is at risk of collapse.”Canceled, Descoped, or Delayed Earth Observation Missions(from the April 2005 Pre-Publication of the Interim Report of the Decadal Survey on Earth Science and Applications from Space)Table 1MissionMeasurementSocietal BenefitStatusGlobal PrecipitationPrecipitationReduced vulnerability toDelayedMeasurement (GPM)floods and droughts; improved capability to manage water resources in arid regions; improved forecasts of hurricanesAtmospheric Soundings fromTemperature and water vaporProtection of life and propertyCanceledGeostationary Orbit (GIFTS—through improved weather forecastsGeostationary Imaging Fourierand severe storm warningsTransform Spectrometer)Ocean Vector Winds (activeWind speed and directionImproved severe weather warningsCanceledscatterometer follow-on tonear the ocean surfaceto ships at sea; improved cropQuikSCAT)planning and yields through better predictions of El NiñoLandsat Data Continuity—bridgeLand coverMonitoring of deforestation;Canceledmission (to fill gap betweenidentification of mineral resources;Landsat-7 and NPOESS)tracking of the conversion of agricultural land to other usesGloryOptical properties of aerosols;Improved scientific understandingCanceledsolar irradianceof factors that force climate changeWide Swath Ocean AltimeterSea level in two dimensionsMonitoring of coastal currents,Instrument canceled—(on the Ocean Surface Topography Mission, OSTM)eddies, and tides, all of which affect fisheries, navigation, and ocean climatedescope of an enhanced OSTMSince the publication of the Interim Report, the Hydros and Deep Space Climate Observatory missions were cancelled; the flagship Global Precipitation Mission was delayed for another two and a half years; significant cuts were made to NASA’s Research and Analysis program; the NPOESS Preparatory Project mission was delayed for a year and a half; a key atmospheric profiling sensor planned for the next generation of NOAA geostationary satellites was canceled; and cost overruns led to the NPOESS program undergoing a “Nunn-McCurdy” review. The recertified NPOESS program delays the first launch by 3 years, eliminates 2 of the planned 6 spacecraft, and de-manifests or de-scopes a number of instruments, with particular consequences for measurement of the forcing and feedbacks that need to be measured to understand the magnitude, pace, and consequences of global and regional climate change.It is against this backdrop that I discuss the present report.The Decadal Survey presents a vision for the Earth science program; an analysis of the existing Earth observing system and recommendations to help restore its capabilities; an assessment of and recommendations for new observations and missions needed for the next decade; an examination of and recommendations concerning effective application of those observations; and an analysis of how best to sustain that observation and applications system. A critical element of the study’s vision is its emphasis on the need to place the benefits to society that can be provided by an effective Earth observation system on a par with scientific advancement.The integrated suite of space missions and supporting and complementary activities that are described in our report will support the development of numerous applications of high importance to society. The expected benefits of the fully-implemented program include:
- Develop a consensus of the top-level scientific questions that should provide the focus for Earth and environmental observations in the period 2005-2020; and
- Develop a prioritized list of recommended space programs, missions, and supporting activities to address these questions.
I will now turn to a brief discussion of the budgetary implications of our recommendations.The President’s FY ’08 budget request for NASA Earth science is a mixture of some good news and bad news. The primary bit of good news is the small bottom line increases for 2008 and 2009. These increases address the needs of currently planned missions already in development, the completion of which is consistent with the decadal survey’s baseline set of assumptions.Unfortunately, the out-year budgets reveal fundamental flaws in the budget and NASA’s Earth science plans - the budgets are totally inadequate to accomplish the decadal survey’s recommendations. In 2010, the Earth science budget begins to decline again and reaches a 20-year low, in real terms, in 2012. This decline reflects that the 2008 budget contains no provision for new missions, nor does it allow us to address the significant challenges facing our planet. These disturbing broad budgetary trends are captured in Figure 1.Figure 1: The NASA Earth Science Budget in constant FY06 dollars (normalized for full-cost accounting across entire timescale; assumes 3%/year inflation from 2006 to 2012). Mission supporting activities include Earth Science Research, Applied Sciences, Education and Outreach, and Earth Science Technology.Before turning to NOAA, I want to emphasize that the problems in the out-years appear to be due entirely to the lack of adequate resources. In fact, at a NASA town hall meeting that followed the release of our report on January 15, 2007 at the 2007 annual meeting of the American Meteorological Society, the head of NASA’s Earth Science program, who appears today with me as a witness, stated that the recommendations in our report provided the roadmap for the Earth Science program we should have.The NOAA NESDIS budget picture is also a mixture of some good and bad news. In this case, the budget takes a small downturn in FY08, followed by significant growth in FY09–FY10, before turning down again in FY11 (Figure 2). It remains to be seen whether this ~$200 M/year growth in FY09 and FY10 can enable restoration of some of the lost capabilities to NPOESS and GOES-R. There appears to be no budgetary wedge for new starts. Finally, for a variety of reasons, the NOAA NESDIS budget is far from transparent, especially in the out-years.Figure 2: The NOAA NESDIS Budget in constant 2006 dollars (assumes 3 percent/year inflation from 2006-2012). Mission supporting activities include NOAA’s Data Centers and Information Services, Data System Enhancements, Data Exploitation, and Information Services, and Facilities and Critical Infrastructure Improvements.As detailed in our report, between 2006 and the end of the decade, the number of operating U.S. missions will decrease dramatically and the number of operating sensors and instruments on NASA spacecraft, most of which are well past their nominal lifetimes, may decrease by some 35 percent. If present trends continue, reductions of some 50% are possible by 2015.Were this to pass, we would have chosen, in effect, to partially blind ourselves at a time of increasing need to monitor, predict, and develop responses to numerous global environmental challenges. Vital climate records, such as the measurement of solar irradiance and the Earth’s response, will be placed in jeopardy or lost. Measurements of aerosols, ozone profiles, sea surface height, sources and sinks of important greenhouse gases, patterns of air and coastal pollution, and even winds in the atmosphere are among the numerous critical measurements that are at risk or simply will not occur if we follow the path of the President 2008 budget and the proposed out-year run out.Taking this path, we will also forgo the economic benefits that would have come, for example, from better management of energy and water, and improved weather predictions. Without action on the report’s recommendations, a decades-long improvements in the skill in which we make weather forecasts will stall, or even reverse; this may be accompanied by diminished capacity to forecast severe weather events and manage disaster response and relief efforts. The nation’s capabilities to forecast space weather will also be at risk, with impacts on commercial aviation and space technology.The world is facing significant environmental challenges: shortages of clean and accessible freshwater, degradation of terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems, increases in soil erosion, changes in the chemistry of the atmosphere, declines in fisheries, and the likelihood of significant changes in climate. These changes are occurring over and above the stresses imposed by the natural variability of a dynamic planet, as well as the effects of past and existing patterns of conflict, poverty, disease, and malnutrition. Further, these changes interact with each other and with natural variability in complex ways that cascade through the environment across local, regional, and global scales. To cope responsibly with these challenges requires information about our planet; it requires us to expand our scientific basis for foreseeing potential changes and patterns, and this science is dependent upon expanded space-based observation. The needed new missions are set forth in the Decadal Survey; these missions need to be implemented in the coming decade.I would like to thank the Committee for inviting me to testify, and I would be delighted to answer any questions.
- Human Health
More reliable forecasts of infectious and vector-borne disease outbreaks for disease control and response.
- Earthquake Early Warning
Identification of active faults and prediction of the likelihood of earthquakes to enable effective investment in structural improvements, inform land-use decisions, and provide early warning of impending earthquakes.
- Weather Prediction
Longer-term, more reliable weather forecasts.
- Sea Level Rise
Climate predictions based on better understanding of ocean temperature and ice sheet volume changes and feedback to enable effective coastal community planning.
- Climate Prediction
Robust estimates of primary climate forcings for improved climate forecasts, including local predictions of the effects of climate change; determination in time and space of sources and sinks of carbon dioxide.
- Freshwater Availability
More accurate and longer-term precipitation and drought forecasts to improve water resource management.
- Ecosystem Services
More reliable land-use, agricultural, and ocean productivity forecasts to improve planting and harvesting schedules and fisheries management.
- Air Quality
More reliable air quality forecasts to enable effective urban pollution management.
- Extreme Storm Warnings
Longer-term, more reliable storm track forecasts and intensification predictions to enable effective evacuation planning.
 It has been estimated that one third of the $10 trillion U.S. economy is weather-sensitive or environment-sensitive (NRC, Satellite Observations of the Earth's Environment: Accelerating the Transition of Research to Operations, The National Academies Press, Washington, D.C., 2003). In a typical hurricane season, NOAA’s forecasts, warnings, and the associated emergency responses result in a $3 billion savings. Two-thirds of this savings, $2 billion, is attributed to the reduction in hurricane-related deaths, and one-third of this savings, $1 billion, is attributed to a reduction in property-related damage because of preparedness actions. Advances in satellite information, data assimilation techniques, and more powerful computers to run more sophisticated numerical models, have lead to more accurate weather forecasts and warnings. Today, NOAA’s five-day hurricane forecasts, which utilize satellite data, are as accurate as its three-day forecasts were 10 years ago. The additional advanced notice has a significant positive effect on many sectors of our economy. See statement and references therein of Edward Morris, Director, Office of Space Commercialization, NOAA, Hearing on Space and U.S. National Power, Committee on Armed Services Subcommittee on Strategic Forces, U.S. House of Representatives, June 21, 2006. Available at: <http://www.legislative.noaa.gov/Testimony/morris062106.pdf>. Ibid.
Dr. Otis D. BrownDeanRosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, University of MiamiStatement ofOtis B. Brown, Ph.D.Dean, Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, University of MiamiandMember, Committee on Earth Science and Applications from SpaceNational Research CouncilThe National Academiesbefore theThe U.S. Senate Committee onCommerce, Science, and TransportationSpace, Aeronautics, and Related Sciences SubcommitteeHearing on
“National Imperatives for Earth Science Research”March 7, 2007
Mr. Chairman, Ranking Minority Member, and members of the committee: thank you for inviting me here to testify today. My name is Otis Brown, and I am Dean of the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, University of Miami. I am also a member of the National Research Council’s Committee on Earth Science and Applications from Space.As dean of the Rosenstiel School, I have first-hand experience how satellite observations provide real-world results. Following Hurricane Katrina, imagery from our Center for Southeastern Tropical Advanced Remote Sensing (CSTARS) assisted relief and recovery efforts in New Orleans, tracking to see when and where flood waters had receded to increase the effectiveness of rescue efforts. Also pertinent to the environmental challenges presenting themselves in the Gulf states, we employed satellite imagery that identifies the rate of subsidence in the Mississippi Delta and New Orleans – equally invaluable information when making decisions about the reality and requirements of rebuilding in this area and long-term environmental challenges. This same imagery is what we use to monitor water levels in the Everglades and outbreaks of red tide. And, uses for satellite data only continue to grow as we learn to “see” phenomena like changes in sea surface temperature, sea level, and the size of polar ice caps. I cannot emphasize enough how vital satellite imagery has become to earth observation and consequently our ability to predict, plan, prepare, and respond.I’ve been asked to discuss my perspectives on the “National Imperatives for Earth Sciences Research.” This topic includes areas relevant to many parts of the federal government. My testimony today focuses on the roles of NASA and NOAA. It also addresses some resource and coordination issues for these two agencies.As you may know I have been part of the team that recently produced a decadal plan for Earth observations from space, which provides a prioritized roadmap. Our vision is captured in the following declaration:Understanding the complex, changing planet on which we live, how it supports life, and how human activities affect its ability to do so in the future is one of the greatest intellectual challenges facing humanity. It is also one of the most important challenges for society as it seeks to achieve prosperity, health, and sustainability.As detailed in the NRC report, and further emphasized by the latest report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), our planet is faced with a number of significant scientific and societal challenges and their impacts on key parts of our society, economy, and health. The two-year study contained in the NRC report delineates how NASA’s Earth science budget has declined 30 percent since 2000, with more funding reductions planned as its priority missions of manned trips to Mars and a station on the Moon take further hold. The National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) likewise faces funding challenges with its National Polar-Orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System (NPOESS) – now three years behind schedule and $3 billion over budget. Additionally, many of the satellite system’s advanced weather and climate instruments have been dropped to address cost and schedule challenges. Meanwhile, current satellites continue to age, and many of us foresee major shortcomings in satellite observations by the end of this decade that will undo much of the progress we have made in earth observation and weather prediction.So, at a time when our need for understanding the Earth system and the need for Earth observations have never been greater, we are faced with declining investments in Earth science, and, an Earth observation program that will significantly diminish in capability over the next decade.The first question the National Research Council committee had to address was the national capabilities for Earth observations. We were troubled by the answer.We found that the current investment strategies had led to a system at risk of collapse. That assessment was based on the observed decline in funding for Earth-observation missions in NASA and the consequent cancellation, downsizing, and delay of a number of critical missions and instruments in both agencies. Since the interim report, matters have only worsened, with further cancellations, descopings and delays of NOAA and NASA satellite plans. This will result in an overall degradation of the network of Earth-observing satellites.There are many potential consequences. Some examples are:· Weather forecasts and warnings may become less accurate, putting more people at risk and diminishing the proven economic value of accurate forecasts – this is particularly important to this country since we must cope with many forms of extreme weather, be it in the form of hurricanes, tornadoes, drought, floods or winter storms.· Climate variability and the rate of change need to be better quantified. Earth is warming because of a small imbalance between incoming solar radiation and outgoing radiation from Earth. Without the recommended measurements, we will not be able to quantify how this net energy imbalance is changing, or when or if the planet will stop warming.· Climate models have improved steadily over the years, but are far from perfect and must be improved if we are to intelligently cope with climate change. Satellites provide unique observations of the Earth system and validate and improve these models.· Sea level is rising and glaciers and ice-fields around the world are melting, but we just don’t know how fast these are occurring. Without continuing quantitative observations provided via satellites, we can’t know how these rates change or the implications for coastal communities.· Satellite observations could well be pivotal in resolving a controversy about whether the frequency and intensity of hurricanes are increasing; observations of the atmosphere and oceans are essential.· The limited signals of cataclysmic activity come through vigilant observation. That means the risk of missing early detection of earthquakes, tsunamis, and volcanic eruptions will increase.· The bottom line is: Earth science is based fundamentally on observations. While it is impossible to predict what scientific advances will not occur without the observations, or what surprises we will miss, we can be sure the rate of scientific progress will be greatly slowed – perhaps even undone to some degree. Without a doubt, it takes us backwards rather than forwards.
Significant advances in hurricane forecasting over the past three decades have come from orbiting satellites that take timely, high-resolution pictures and provide improved estimates of surface wind over the ocean. The satellite images are all over the TV for the public to view, but scientists, dissect them further. From sea level, sea surface temperatures and winds to red tide outbreaks and oil spills, satellite observations afford us a better, informed view of our Earth.The climate debate has been driven by debate over model capabilities and the lack of long-term critical observations relevant to climate. Many of the capabilities to make such observations exist in the research domain, but have not been transitioned into an operational setting. Our NRC report noted the difficulties in transferring NASA and NOAA research into operational use. That is because there is currently no process to include the necessary scientific input, resources and exploitation capabilities to either facilitate or to define this transition. Thus, we are seeing the winding down of the NASA Earth Observing System and its broad Earth-observing capabilities and information delivery systems, with no apparent way for our nation to harvest the fruits of this multi-billion dollar investment, or, to continue prototype research systems with proven operational value. The follow-on NOAA system, NPOESS, is late and more than likely will not overlap the NASA systems, and, most of the climate-related capabilities are not in its baseline. Put succinctly, much needed long-term time-series of Earth processes required for decisions in this changing world will be lost. This is due to the lack of a functional relationship between research (NASA) and operations (NOAA) for Earth observing systems, and, a lack of resources in NOAA to address all its Earth observing requirements.The challenge in Earth sciences is that the breadth of study is so large that it’s difficult to develop a set of priorities across disciplines. This is the first ever report to provide an integrated set of national priorities for Earth observing from space. It’s equally difficult for anyone to imagine how it affects them individually. Often times, it seems we speak in a foreign language about solar irradiance, vector sea surface winds, limb sounding of ozone profiles and water vapor soundings from geostationary and polar orbits – perhaps this is not the clearest way for the public to understand how humans have become dependent on tools that reside in outer space.
What is important to understand about the plan our committee recommended is that its financial requirements are NOT astronomical. In fact, implementing all of the recommendations requires only that we bring the program up to funding levels comparable to the year 2000. The plan we recommend calls for undertaking 17 new NASA and NOAA missions in the period 2008-2020, as well as restoring some of the capabilities lost on NPOESS and GOES, and revitalizing a few delayed NASA missions like GPM and Landsat. Our recommendations for NASA can be implemented in an extremely cost-effective manner. The committee understood the financial constraints and therefore had to find missions capable of tackling several scientific questions simultaneously. The result is that we reduced the number of possible new missions from more than 100 down to 17 broad-ranging, high-value, multipurpose missions. But to accomplish this, NASA’s Earth science budget must be restored to year 2000 funding levels. We think this is very reasonable given the obvious societal needs and benefits.
The truth of the matter is that this field of science is inextricably linked to our daily life and that of future generations. Climate variability and natural disasters are taking a significant toll on our economy, our environment, and our well being. And, that is why we must sustain the Earth observations that underpin national preparedness and response. Implementing these missions will not only greatly reduce the risk of natural disasters of all kinds to the people of our country and the world, they will also support more efficient management of natural resources including water, energy, fisheries, and ecosystems, and support the economy. Thus, the cost of the program is repaid many times over.The observing system we envision is affordable and will help establish a firm, sustainable foundation for Earth science and real societal benefits through the year 2020 and beyond.Thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today. I would be pleased to answer any questions that you may have.
Ms. Nancy ColletonPresident, Institute for Global Environment StrategiesExecutive Director, Alliance for Earth ObservationsTESTIMONY OF NANCY COLLETONPRESIDENT, INSTITUTE FOR GLOBAL ENVIRONMENTAL STRATEGIESREPRESENTATIVE OF THE ALLIANCE FOR EARTH OBSERVATIONSSUBMITTED ON MARCH 3, 2007,TO THESENATE COMMITTEE ON COMMERCE, SCIENCE, AND TRANSPORTATIONSUBCOMMITTEE ON SPACE, AERONAUTICS, AND RELATED SCIENCESHEARING ONNATIONAL IMPERATIVES FOR EARTH SCIENCE RESEARCHIntroductionChairman Nelson, Ranking Member Hutchison, members of the Committee, special guests, ladies and gentlemen, I am Nancy Colleton, president of the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies, a non-profit, 501(c)3 organization. Our efforts are devoted to furthering knowledge of the Earth system and promoting the value and use of the technology tools that help us better understand our changing planet. The Institute’s efforts include everything from developing resources for K-12 science education and teacher professional development, to facilitating international cooperative activities in Earth science and applications.I am here today representing one of our major initiatives, the Alliance for Earth Observations—an informal confederation of organizations devoted to promoting Earth observations for social and economic benefit. The Alliance has been a strong advocate of the importance of engaging the private sector (industry, academia, and non-governmental organizations) in the planning of Earth observation systems, primarily the U.S. Integrated Earth Observation System (IEOS) and the multinational Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS).The Alliance membership is diverse and includes stakeholders such as system developers, data providers, geospatial technology firms, university-based research institutes, and a non-governmental organization that focuses on science applications for conservation. Since our effort began in December 2003, we have implemented an aggressive outreach effort to numerous business sectors (e.g., clean technologies, energy, agriculture, public health) to raise awareness of the importance of Earth observations. Attachment A includes a listing of the Alliance members. An Alliance Public Policy Statement on the Decadal Survey for Earth Observations is included in Attachment B.We are here today to examine one of the most critical tools of Earth science: satellite observations. Whether we realize it or not, we all work in the field of Earth science and benefit from satellite observations. Whether you are a policy maker, an investor, a farmer, a fisherman, or a truck driver, the Earth is changing and it is influencing our work, our decisions, our recreation, our resources, our economy, and our future. I am honored to participate in this important hearing, National Imperatives for Earth Science Research.Response to the ReportThe purpose of today’s hearing is to discuss the recent National Research Council report, Earth Science and Applications from Space: National Imperatives for the Next Decade and Beyond. I thank Drs. Berrien Moore and Rick Anthes on the leadership that they have provided as co-chairs of this study. I congratulate them and the other members of the Decadal Survey Committee on this exceptional report. As we all know, the quality and breadth of reports such as this don’t just happen; they require a very dedicated and concerted effort.Quoting from the report, "the United States' extraordinary foundation of global observations is at great risk. Between 2006 and the end of the decade, the number of operating missions will decrease dramatically and the number of operating sensors and instruments on NASA spacecraft, most of which are well past their lifetimes, will decrease by 50 percent." As my colleague, Governor Jim Geringer (former Governor of Wyoming) pointed out in his testimony on this topic on February 13th to the House Science and Technology Committee, “That means a fifty percent reduction in today’s already inadequate space-based information systems. …It is difficult to maintain your vision from a crumbling vantage point.”I offer four primary observations to this Senate Committee for your consideration and deliberation:· The fact that the Decadal Survey Committee’s vision for a decadal program in Earth observations went beyond fundamental science to consider “increased applications to serve the nation and people of the world” is a significant and much-needed shift in approach to the U.S. program.· The U.S. should build upon our space-based Earth observation programs and move forward with the U.S. IEOS—incorporating space, aircraft, and in situ instruments, and the requisite analytical capabilities.· Clear leadership is essential to resolve the issues and attain the goals identified in the Decadal Survey.· The time to act is now.
Increased Applications to Serve the Nation and the WorldThis year, we will celebrate the 20th anniversary of Our Common Future, the groundbreaking report of the World Commission on Environment and Development led by former Norwegian Prime Minister Gro Harlem Brundtland. The report begins as follows:In the middle of the 20th century, we saw our planet from space for the first time. Historians may eventually find that this vision had a greater impact on thought than did the Copernican revolution of the 16th century, which upset the human self-image by revealing that the Earth is not the centre of the universe. From space, we see a small and fragile ball dominated not by human activity and edifice but by a pattern of clouds, oceans, greenery, and soils. Humanity’s inability to fit its doings into that pattern is changing planetary systems, fundamentally. Many such changes are accompanied by life-threatening hazards. This new reality, from which there is not escape, must be recognized—and managed.Fortunately, this new reality coincides with more positive developments new to this century. We can move information and goods faster around the globe than ever before; we can produce more food and more goods with less investment and resources; our technology and science gives us at least the potential to look deeper into and better understand natural systems. From space, we can see and study the Earth as an organism whose health depends on the health of all its parts. We have the power to reconcile human affairs with natural laws and to thrive in the process. In this our cultural and spiritual heritages can reinforce our economic interests and survival imperatives.It is insightful that, even in 1987, world leaders recognized that not only would space technology help us understand the Earth, but that it could also be a unique tool to better manage our planet for social benefit and economic interests.But, it is disappointing that despite this powerful text published 20 years ago, we are gathered here today for a hearing examining the decline in U.S. space-based Earth observing capabilities.Since that time, our U.S. systems have focused primarily on answering scientific questions, with applications of this data and information as a secondary objective. And, although we have seen significant growth and impact of operational programs at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), science requirements are still what drive the development of our space-based systems.The fact that the Decadal Survey Committee’s vision for an Earth observations decadal program went beyond fundamental science to consider “increased applications to serve the nation and people of the world” is a significant step and much-needed shift in approach to the U.S. program.We must recognize that the technologies that we are discussing today are the same technologies that:
Just last week, we again witnessed the benefit of Earth observation satellite technology to our nation:
- Enabled us to track and forecast Hurricane Katrina;
- Enabled us to discover and visualize the ozone hole;
- Allowed us to detect the impacts of the Indian Ocean tsunami and to determine the true extent of the devastation it caused;
- Continue to identify receding Arctic glaciers; and
- Were used by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in their studies.
The benefits of space-based data will not end this week or next. In fact, the need for this type of information and the responsibility of the United States as a world leader to maintain and share this important capability will only increase with the stress of climate change.In a January 12, 2007, speech to the World Affairs Council, Lord Levene, Chairman of Lloyd’s, provided a global insurer’s perspective on catastrophe trends and climate change. He stated, “We cannot risk being in denial on catastrophe trends. We can expect to see US mega-catastrophes with 100 billion dollars insured losses soon. We urgently need a radical rethink of public policy, and to build the facts into our future planning.” He added, “The insurance industry will continue to play a vital role as enabler and rebuilder of the U.S. economy.” U.S. satellite assets and the products provided as a result of space-based observations are critical to ensuring that insurance and other sectors have accurate and timely information.Not only should the United States strive to answer key scientific questions, but it should respond to the needs of a broad, non-scientific user community, which relies increasingly upon operational missions by NOAA. By this I mean how can we ensure that our national research program and technologies are meeting the needs of policy makers, state and local water managers, energy executives, and emerging areas such as the carbon finance market? This will involve additional study and possible correction of our current research-to-operations processes based on new engagement with the diverse and emerging user communities to provide more input to our national planning for new systems.Move forward with IEOSFormer Wyoming Governor Jim Geringer, who testified to the Senate Commerce Committee in April 2006 on drought and the need for integrated information, also wrote in November 2006 to the Office of Management and Budget to express the need to fund IEOS, the U.S. contribution to the multinational Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS). He wrote:Sir Francis Bacon coined the phrase “Knowledge is power.” Today it’s not about power but about empowerment as our country faces many challenges. More than ever we need better data-driven decisions. The first essential part is observation, the gathering of data. But we need more than data. Accurate and timely observations become information that leads to knowledge that enables decisions. We must reduce uncertainty to enable better risk management for businesses as well as protect citizens and save lives and property.In the December 2006-January 2007 issue of Environmental Finance Magazine, Vijay Gudivaka reported that “Companies are working overtime to get a better understanding of their environmental impacts.” The article discusses the need for more effective environmental data management and how companies are being challenged to develop databases to better assess environmental, health, and safety information. Gudivaka writes, “Whatever system is being used to collect and distribute environmental information needs to keep meeting the requirements of the business—or it has to change.”Without an established information infrastructure that builds upon our space-based Earth observation programs, we face many questions currently: Are our current systems meeting the needs of our businesses? Are our current systems protecting our citizens and property?...maintaining U.S. competitiveness?...ensuring that public and private sector decision makers, have, and will in the future have the information they need to respond to challenges like climate change? The Decadal Survey highlights the need to do more. My work with numerous business, academic, and non-government leaders also reveals that our systems must be improved to meet the requirements of business.Warren Isom, Senior Vice President, Willis Re Inc., and Board Member of the Weather Risk Management Association remarked at the Forum on Earth Observations last year, “The weather risk market–in fact the risk-management business in general - has a profoundly strong interest in serious, systematic attempts to improve, expand and intensify the capture of data relating to our planet.”The current U.S. system must change to combine and integrate the valuable and extensive information sources and tools across all Federal agencies. This would create the IEOS, new interoperable systems that enable an unprecedented picture of our world, with a better understanding of intended benefits.The Alliance for Earth Observations believes that by embarking on the development of IEOS that the United States will:
- NOAA weather satellites provided critical lead time for the Southeast tornadoes (in some cases 12-55 minutes); and
- NASA’s MODIS (Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer) on the Aqua satellite enabled us to view the extent of dust storms caused by high winds over Northern Texas (Dallas Morning News and Houston Chronicle reported that downed power lines left some 37,000 homes and businesses without power. Grass fires were also reported).
IEOS will leverage Earth science and technology for the benefit of U.S. citizens and the world. In the area of climate change, IEOS would provide accurate and timely observations as the foundation for guiding U.S. climate change policy, ensuring our nation is moving in the right direction and providing the basis for knowing whether our policies are making the intended positive impacts we expect. The National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS), which is a key component of IEOS, would provide a proactive solution for U.S. citizens, delivering the “business intelligence” needed to manage the risk of drought. Regarding energy security, observations are critical to both the supply and demand sides of energy. On the supply side, all sources of alternative and renewable energy are highly dependent on environmental data. These energy resources include hydropower, wind, ocean energy (tide, current, wave), biofuels, photovoltaics, and geothermal sources. On the demand side, environmental conditions largely determine the overall demand for power as well as the variability in demand. By funding the IEOS, the United States would provide a new level of service to the American people to prevent, mitigate or manage the effects of natural hazards through linked and interactive systems that provide the United States and the world with greater forecasting capability. Even in the area of public health, IEOS would lead to:· Improved air quality forecasting;· Improved and earlier recognition of harmful algal blooms;· Earlier recognition of the need for beach closures; and· A national water quality monitoring system that, for the first time, would integrate disparate water quality systems into one comprehensive system—a major step forward for the United States.IEOS benefits can only be achieved through a common U.S. integrated information architecture. The benefits discussed in the previous paragraphs all depend on the development of a common observation and information system architecture for Earth observations. This architecture would facilitate information sharing between and among agencies as well as promulgate standards for terminology, data discovery, data access and transport, and service interfaces. This approach would enable our investment in environmental data, products and services to be leveraged by many communities of interest, generating value to both citizens and the economy through improved decision making and incubation of a value-added market for environmental products and services. A robust and scalable architecture for an environmental enterprise would:· Leverage Federally funded activities in other data-rich domains;· Enable communities of interest to easily and transparently access a variety of thematically diverse and geographically dispersed assets; and· Enable any group or organization to easily connect their assets into the enterprise in an interoperable fashion without significant investment in information systems.IEOS would also advance the Global Earth Observation System of System (GEOSS), which is now supported by more than 66 countries and 46 international organizations. This U.S.-initiated effort is intended to allow Federal interagency and multi-national coordination to assure that disparate environmental-related data systems here at home and abroad are interoperable and compatible. An effective IEOS effort should have clear designation of responsibilities, be enabled by a web-based system that allows rapid communication, funded across agency boundaries with a clear purpose. IEOS/GEOSS would improve the capabilities for today’s decision makers by providing new information products. That is not the case today. IEOS has neither been funded nor has program leadership been designated.Clear Leadership is EssentialClear leadership is essential to resolve the issues and attain the goals identified in the Decadal Study. The report before you calls for increased funding to improve our current national Earth monitoring capability. Yes, funding is important but the essential missing element is leadership. Scientific assessment, increased budgets, improved technical capabilities, and coordinated public-private engagement need designated, consolidated leadership. Critical elements including satellite and aircraft sensors, in situ instruments such as stream gauges, and geospatial information systems, have been fragmented among our Federal agencies, always a secondary mission, never the priority responsibility.Earth observation is not a priority mission for any designated agency at the cabinet level. Not within NASA, the Department of Commerce, the Department of Interior nor any other Federal agency. The important technologies that enable us to measure climate change and identify and monitor the impacts to our environment, our lives and our livelihood are the sole responsibility of no one agency or person.Who should be the lead agency or position for U.S. Earth observation capabilities? What is our national vision for Earth observations? How are requirements from the Federal operational sector such as NOAA, USGS, USDA and EPA reflected in our research and development programs within NASA and NSF? Are requirements from the private sector being addressed?Without a designated lead, we will not see:
- Give its citizens the single most important and comprehensive technology tool to monitor and respond to our changing world, thereby protecting lives and property;
- Give its Federal leaders and managers robust observational data and models that are fundamental to performance measurement, decision-making, and accelerating our understanding of environmental processes;
- Provide U.S. industry with the data needed to better manage risk and resources, make transportation decisions, create new business opportunities in environmental information products and services, and thereby impact long-term environmental sustainability;
- Enable our country to remain the world leader in energy development and management, agriculture productivity, marine transportation, public health and other areas;
- Support the global community by working in partnership with other countries to share and integrate important data and information; and
- Give future generations the knowledge and tools needed to leave a better world for each succeeding generation.
As a first step, I support the report’s recommendation that:The Office of Science and Technology Policy, in collaboration with the relevant agencies, and in consultation with the scientific community, should develop and implement a plan for achieving and sustaining global Earth observations. Then a single point of contact or program office at the Cabinet level should be established to assure complementary rather than duplicative or fragmented effort for all operational aspects of earth observation and analysis.I urge that the private sector—industry, academia, and non-governmental organizations—be consulted regarding an integrated plan for Earth observations.Time to ActAs we are often reminded, time passes quickly.In preparation for this hearing, I reviewed numerous reports, one of which is noted earlier in this testimony and is entitled, Linking Remote Sensing Technology and Global Needs: A Strategic Vision. It was a report to NASA on applications. Ironically, the vision outlined in this 1987 report was as follows:The vision for the future is an Applications Information System available to all users—whether a large government agency or small local firm—that will provide overall benefits for the public good and further economic interests of the United States.What we knew 20 years ago, what the Brundtland Commission acknowledged in their groundbreaking report, and what we are reminded of today is that our nationally-funded Earth science and operational technology programs are vital to our society and economy. If nothing else, I hope that the Decadal Survey will motivate you as policy makers and leaders to take action now—action to protect, leverage, and advance these assets so critical to protecting our nation, the world, and our future. Let us not 20 years from now simply acknowledge the words written by the Decadal Survey Committee, but rather be able to point to the Decadal Survey as a turning point for action and commitment to protect, further develop, and exploit these assets for benefit of the nation and the world.
- These critical assets protected;
- A national Earth observations strategy that appropriately addresses climate change;
- The required investment for these program appropriately reflected in agency plans and budgets;
- Our national investment fully leveraged for societal and economic benefit;
- The smooth transition from research to operations;
- Our land-observing capabilities elevated to the level of atmospheric and ocean observations;
- An improved engagement between government and the private sector (industry, Academia, and non-governmental organizations);
- The much-called-for integration of our national Earth observation systems; and
- The products needed to make the best decisions for our country and future generations.
Attachment AAtmospheric and Environmental Research, Inc. (AER)Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp.*The Boeing Company*Booz, Allen, Hamilton*CarisCenter for Southeastern Tropical Advanced Remote Sensing (CSTARS), University of MiamiCIESIN at Columbia UniversityComputer Sciences Corporation (CSC)EADS SpaceESRI*Global Science & Technology, Inc. (GST)Harris*Lockheed Martin*Mitretek SystemsNatureServeL3 Communications – Maripro, Inc.Northrop Grumman*Raytheon*Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC)*Scripps Institution of OceanographySoutheastern University Research Association (SURA)Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution*Executive Committee MembersThe Alliance was formed in 2004 to facilitate participation by the private sector—industry, Academia, and nongovernmental organizations—in U.S. and international planning for Earth observations, especially as it relates to GEOSS. The Alliance for Earth Observations is an initiative of the nonprofit Institute for Global Environmental Strategies, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organizationAttachment BPublic Policy Statement on the Decadal Survey for Earth Observationsby The Alliance for Earth ObservationsThe Alliance for Earth Observations commends the work started by the National Research Council Space Studies Board Committee on Earth Science and Applications from Space in its recently released report: Earth Science and Applications from Space: National Imperatives for the Next Decade and Beyond. This important report sheds light on the declining Earth observation capabilities of the United States and lays out priorities for the next decade for Earth observations from space. This report offers the foundation of a roadmap to bring the U.S. Earth Observation capability in line with expectations for meeting the global change and climate policy challenges we see so frequently in the headlines. Science information is needed to inform policy, and the “Earth Science Decadal Survey” as this report is called, points us in the direction we need to advance our national capability into the 21st Century.The members of the Alliance recognize the immense value to society – both in terms of economic benefits to our citizens and in meeting our responsibilities as stewards of our environment – of U.S. programs in space-based Earth observations. The Committee, capably led by Dr. Richard A. Anthes, President of the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research and Dr. Berrien Moore, III, Professor and Director of the Institute for the Study of Earth, Oceans, and Space, University of New Hampshire, was comprised of an outstanding team of subject matter experts. In their report, they have provided a very valuable prioritization of scientific questions that need to be addressed along with recommendations for the space-based missions that should be developed and launched to provide the data needed to address important societal issues -- in the near, mid, and far term.The Alliance recognizes the challenge in the current budget climate of augmenting funding for multiple agencies charged with executing the nation’s operational and research Earth observations programs. In the recently released President’s Budget Request for Fiscal Year (FY) 2008, funding for satellite programs at the National Aeronautics & Space Administration (NASA), National Oceanographic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and U.S. Geological Survey would not accommodate the recommendations of the report. The President’s Budget, if enacted in FY-08, would enable NOAA to proceed with current acquisition plans for both the polar-orbiting and geostationary satellite programs, with their now-reduced instrument suites, and NASA to maintain momentum only on their current set of missions. The Alliance recognizes the importance of increasing U.S. government funding to accomplish the recommendations in the report to advance our national Earth satellite programs. Funding would need to be implemented as top line budget increases, in order to not affect other important agency priorities.The Alliance agrees with the Decadal Survey and its predecessor reports from the National Academy of Sciences that current NOAA, NASA, and USGS budgets and programs do not include the programmatic structure needed to manage the research, development, and flight testing of new instrument technologies, and subsequent transition to operational missions, necessary to continue to evolve U.S. operational Earth observation capacity. Thorough technology demonstrations could have provided the risk mitigation needed to curtail decisions to cancel critically needed climate monitoring, ocean imaging, and advanced atmospheric sounding instruments from the NPOESS and GOES-R programs. Future plans and decisions can benefit from the report’s recommendations to invest in developing next generation technologies and systems to reduce cost and schedule risks to operational programs. Implementation of the report’s recommendation would be timely in addressing this longstanding problem.The Alliance for Earth Observations is a publicly and privately funded initiative of the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies to promote the understanding and use of land, air and sea observations for societal and economic benefit.
Dr. Michael FreilichDirector, Earth Science DivisionScience Mission Directorate, National Aeronautics and Space Administration