The U.S. has enjoyed an extensive deployment of ocean buoys that provide highly valuable weather, wave, and ocean data for critical prediction and warning functions.
This is NOT happening.
The data from these buoys are used initialize our numerical forecast models of the atmosphere and ocean, and they serve as verification points to see how well our models are doing.
The problem: because of budget cutbacks and NOAA management decisions, many of the U.S. buoys are broken today, with little hope of fixing them before the critical winter storm season begins.
Go to the U.S. weather buoy website and click on many of the buoys and you will get this message:
What about the dangerous Alaska waters? The ones where fishermen die each year during big storms? Three important buoys are dead in the Bering Sea and another few in the Gulf of Alaska.
Off the northeast U.S.? FOUR major buoys are dead, lessening our ability to warn folks if another Sandy-like storm approaches from off the ocean.
And major buoys are dead on all sides of Florida.
Here is a more general view, again the red are the dead moored buoys.
It is not inexpensive to maintain these buoys, since you need to send a ship out there to do the maintenance. But don't you think a nation that spends hundreds of billions on defense each year could spend a few million to ensure that these critical sentries of offshore conditions are maintained properly?
Another example of lack of attention to important environmental and other infrastructure needs.
And infrastructure that plays an essential role in protecting lives and property in our country. NOAA management needs to rethink their priorities to insure the U.S. buoy system is repaired and operational. And Congress needs to ensure there is sufficient funding to do so.
And for those of you wondering, the current government shutdown is very much hurting the work of the atmospheric science community. Essential supercomputers are not available, critical data sets can not be acquired, and important meetings (like the Northwest modeling consortium that supervises the high resolution weather prediction at the UW) are being cancelled.
It is all very sad and so unnecessary. We can do better than this.