WASHINGTON — The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is being inundated with requests for weather and ice forecasts as well as navigation information about the Arctic, but isn’t able to provide all of the information that the Coast Guard, industries and native Alaskans need, NOAA chief Jane Lubchenco said on Monday.
The NOAA chief, the commandant of the Coast Guard and the chief of naval operations spoke at a symposium about challenges ahead for the U.S. as summer Arctic sea ice declines, opening the Arctic to oil and gas extraction, fisheries, tourism and shipping.
Lubchenco, a marine ecologist, said her agency doesn’t have nearly the same capacity for Arctic weather forecasting, oceanography and navigational charting that it has in other regions.
“It’s a matter of insufficient observing, insufficient information to do the modeling and forecasting. So there’s a huge disconnect between what is expected we will be able to deliver and what we are actually able to provide,” she said.
Lubchenco said NOAA needs more funding for this work, despite current pressure to cut the federal budget.
NOAA also needs better models to be able to show how the loss of sea ice and rising ocean temperatures will affect pollock, cod, salmon and crab, as well as other species such as ice seals and whales, she said.
Lubchenco cautioned that the environmental changes in the Arctic are happening faster than elsewhere and faster than ever observed in history.
“We have relatively little understanding of the true vulnerabilities of most Arctic ecosystems to the kinds of changes that are under way now,” she said. “And there’s a very urgent need to acquire additional information to be making better decisions.” She added that development decisions should be made cautiously, “because of the potential for either irreversible changes or changes that would take a long, long time to undo.”
h/t to WUWT reader “Old Salt”