New NHC Director Must Continue to Fight for Resources (Sen. Mary Landrieu)

National Hurricane Center Director Bill Proenza has come under fire in recent weeks for drawing national attention to the imminent failure of QuikSCAT, a critical weather tracking and forecasting satellite. This week he was replaced by Deputy Director Ed Rappaport, who will serve as Acting Director.

The American people look to the government to provide accurate warnings of impending weather disasters as well as daily forecasts, and expect every tool necessary be made available to forecasters. National Oceanographic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is embarrassingly far behind in ensuring that QuikSCAT remains part of that arsenal, and Director Proenza was right to expose their failures to public scrutiny. Covering up problems doesn’t do anything to solve them, and this Administration has made silencing the truth an all-too-often response to its own weaknesses.

Ed Rappaport is well-respected in the forecasting community and has built a strong reputation over his years of service. I look forward to working with him as we fight for the resources the NHC needs to produce the best forecasts possible.

NASA launched the current QuikSCAT satellite in 1999, and it was expected to remain in service until 2002. It was built in just 12 months because a previous satellite was lost in 1997. An instrument on the satellite sends pulses of microwave energy through the atmosphere to the ocean surface, and measures the energy that bounces back from the wind-roughened surface. The energy of the microwave pulses changes depending on wind speed and direction, allowing scientists to monitor wind around the world.

I have introduced legislation, S. 1509, to replace the aging QuikSCAT satellite, which is already more than five years past its intended length of service. Charlie Melancon (D-La.) introduced companion legislation in the House. The new, next-generation satellite would maintain weather forecasting and warning capabilities and improve data capabilities for future weather-related disasters. The bill also requires that the NOAA provide annual reports on the status of the satellite.

The Senate Commerce Committee today held a hearing on weather satellites and the scientists who testified agreed that the current QuickSCAT situation is untenable. With more than 50 percent of our population living within 50 miles of the coast, residents of these communities — in Louisiana, Florida and across the nation — deserve the best weather-tracking technology available. I will continue my fight to replace QuikSCAT.

Tags Atmospheric sciences Bill Proenza Edward Rappaport Employment Change Environment Meteorology National Centers for Environmental Prediction National Hurricane Center National Weather Service Person Career QuikSCAT Spaceflight Year of birth missing

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