Artist's conception of a DMSP-5D3 (Defense Meteorological Satellite Program Block 5D3) satellite, the eleventh and most recent version of the military meteorological satellites of the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program. Graphic: Lockheed Martin

By Robin McKie
5 November 2017

(The Observer) – The Republican majority in the US Congress has been accused of deliberately obstructing research on global warming after it emerged that a critically important technique for investigating sea-ice cover at the poles faces being blocked.

The row has erupted after a key polar satellite broke down a few days ago, leaving the US with only three ageing ones, each operating long past their shelf lives, to measure the Arctic’s dwindling ice cap. Scientists say there is no chance a new one can now be launched until 2023 or later. None of the current satellites will still be in operation then.

The crisis has been worsened because the U.S. Congress this year insisted that a backup sea-ice probe had to be dismantled because it did not want to provide funds to keep it in storage. Congress is currently under the control of Republicans, who are antagonistic to climate science and the study of global warming.

“This is like throwing away the medical records of a sick patient,” said David Gallaher of the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colorado. “Our world is ailing and we have apparently decided to undermine, quite deliberately, the effectiveness of the records on which its recovery might be based. It is criminal.”

The threat to the US sea-ice monitoring programme – which supplies data to scientists around the world – will trigger further accusations at this week’s international climate talks in Bonn that the Trump administration is trying to block studies of global warming for ideological reasons. [more]

Congress ordered destruction of obstructing satellite research into climate change


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