FYI: Science Policy News

Trump Budget Cuts NOAA by 16%, Slashes Research Funding Even Deeper

JUN 07, 2017
President Trump’s fiscal year 2018 budget proposes a 16 percent cut for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and a 32 percent cut to the weather and climate agency’s research office. Many of the agency’s programs are targeted for termination.
Former Director of FYI

In its fiscal year 2018 budget request for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Trump administration is seeking a 16 percent, or $900 million, funding cut below the fiscal year 2017 level. The decrease would be spread across NOAA’s six line offices, but the Office of Oceanic & Atmospheric Research (OAR), which houses most of the agency’s R&D, would be hit particularly hard, with a 32 percent cut.

The first chart below depicts proposed changes to NOAA’s line offices, while the second shows funding for accounts within OAR. More detailed budget information is available in FYI’s Federal Science Budget Tracker , and the full NOAA budget document known as the “Blue Book” is available here .

NOAA FY18 Budget Request
NOAA Office of Oceanic & Atmospheric Research FY18 Budget Request

To achieve these proposed cuts, the NOAA budget proposes to terminate or otherwise eliminate support for programs across the agency, including for: the Office of Education, National Sea Grant Program, sub-seasonal weather outlooks, components of the Tsunami Research and Operational Warning program, and a handful of research and research-to-operations programs. These and additional programs up for elimination are listed in the “Other highlights” section below.

Despite the deep cuts, the agency prioritizes its two major weather satellite programs in development: the Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS) and Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellites – R Series (GOES-R). While NOAA is requesting decreases in funding for both of these satellite programs, a gradual ramping down in resources over the next several years is in line with project plans. Even within a reduced satellite budget, NOAA is sticking to commitments on launch dates for the next three GOES-R satellites, scheduled to be launched separately between 2018 and 2024, and the first two JPSS satellites, to be launched this year and in 2022, respectively.

NOAA does, however, propose slashing funding nearly in half for the relatively new Polar Follow On program, raising the prospect of uncertainty for the third and fourth JPSS satellites which will be funded through this account. The budget request indicates that the proposed cuts would necessitate project re-baselining and delays for these two satellite missions.

Other highlights

Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research

  • Sea Grant: Terminates the $64 million National Sea Grant Program, which supports coastal and marine-related research, extension, and education activities across the nation.
  • Weather research-to-operations: Terminates the $10 million Joint Technology Transfer Initiative, which supports improved transition of weather research into programs and services.
  • Climate Competitive Research: Reduces funding by more than one-third for Climate Competitive Research, which is a source of extramural support for universities and NOAA’s Cooperative Institutes.
  • Arctic research: Eliminates $6 million in support for Arctic research, including sea ice modeling and ecosystem and fisheries vulnerabilities.
  • Air Resources Laboratory: Shutters the $5.4 million Air Resources Laboratory in College Park, Maryland, including its research programs focused on air chemistry and mercury deposition.
  • Unmanned aircraft systems: Terminates the $5 million Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Program Office, which coordinates UAS R&D.
  • Vortex-SE: Eliminates support for the $5 million Vortex-SE tornado field research project focused on understanding the formation, intensity, and paths of tornadoes in the Southeast U.S.
  • Research supercomputing: Requests funds within research supercomputing systems acquisition to complete the upgrade of NOAA’s Gaea supercomputer located in Oak Ridge, Tennessee.

National Weather Service

  • National Centers for Environmental Prediction. Consolidates the Climate Prediction Center into the Weather Prediction Center within the National Centers for Environmental Prediction headquartered in College Park, Maryland, resulting in $1.2 million in cost savings.
  • Sub-seasonal weather prediction. Eliminates support for the development, testing, and implementation of experimental products to extend operational weather outlooks from 16 to 30 days.
  • Model research-to-operations: Reduces support by $8 million for the transition of advanced modeling research into operations, affecting the Next Generation Global Prediction System, Hurricane Forecast Improvement Program, NOAA Environmental Modeling System, and the new National Water Model.
  • Tsunami research and prediction: Reduces support for the Tsunami Research and Operational Warning Program, which coordinates tsunami monitoring, reporting, and modeling research.
  • Aviation research: Eliminates $2.8 million in support for aviation science R&D and research-to-operations.
  • Operational supercomputing: Eliminates support for NOAA’s Jet supercomputer in Boulder, Colorado, and reduces supercomputing support in Fairmont, West Virginia, as well.

National Environmental Satellite, Data & Information Service

  • MetOp-C: Proposes a rapid ramp-up of funding for the MetOp-C satellite, which is scheduled for launch in 2018 and will provide additional mid-morning polar observations for weather forecasting.
  • COSMIC-2: Reduces funding by nearly 40 percent for the COSMIC-2 satellite system, the first constellation of which is slated to launch in 2017, and is silent on the system’s second constellation.
  • Big Earth Data Initiative: Terminates the $1.7 million Big Earth Data Initiative at the National Centers for Environmental Information in Asheville, North Carolina.

Office of Education

  • Education: Terminates the $27 million Office of Education, including competitive education grants, the Bay Watershed Education and Training Program, and partnerships with minority-serving institutions.
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