NOAA reboots climate change work with new agency, website

“The better the climate information that alternative energy companies have, the more profitable they can be, the more jobs they can create and the more they can meet the energy demands of our country and our world,” said Commerce Secretary Gary Locke on a conference call with reporters Monday. The Commerce Department houses NOAA.

NOAA also unveiled a new web portal ( for its climate work Monday.

Locke noted that NOAA is already receiving increasing requests for its vast amount of data, and Locke and other officials who briefed reporters on the plan said the new service and portal would also be useful to industries such as farming and fishing.

“The climate service office will now be a single point of contact, like a one-stop shop, for businesses and governments that need NOAA’s high-quality modeling services,” Locke said.

Thomas Karl, director of NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center, will be transitional director for the new Climate Service. NOAA hopes to have the Climate Service in operation by the beginning of fiscal year 2011, which begins Oct. 1.

Locke and NOAA Administrator Jane Lubchenco said the proposed reorganization will be conducted using existing resources. But they plan to ask congressional appropriators to bless the “reprogramming” of funds within NOAA to create the new agency.

Key Capitol Hill lawmakers have already signaled interest in a new NOAA Climate Service. The sweeping energy and climate bill the House approved last year would require it, and so would a major Senate climate bill sponsored by Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.).

Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) has also spoken favorably about the idea.