Turbulence for Oceanic and Atmospheric Research

David is a Deputy News Editor specializing in coverage of science policy, energy and the environment.

Overall, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) gets a 3% boost, to $5.06 billion, in the budget request released today. A major satellite program would remain roughly on track, and one climate science effort would get a big boost. But a number of the agency's marine research and conservation programs would see their spending trimmed if Congress sticks to the White House's proposal.

NOAA's National Ocean Service (NOS), which includes the agency's marine sanctuary network and estuarine research reserves, would see a 4% cut to $458.5 million, down from $477.9 million this year. The NOS's conservation and ocean assessment programs would take a $10 million cut, to $166.1 million, while the marine sanctuary program would lose $1 million, bringing it to $46.6 million.

The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), which manages fisheries within the 322-kilometer Exclusive Economic Zone off U.S. shores, would get an 8% increase to $857.8 million, up form $794.2 million this year. But programs aimed at studying and protecting threatened species would take a $6.4 million cut, to $170 million, and habitat conservation and restoration programs would fall by $7.2 million, to about $36 million.

NOAA's Oceanic and Atmospheric Research (OAR) office—its main research arm—would get a 7% overall boost to $413.8 million, up from $386.9 million this year. Competitive climate research and observation programs would get a major boost of 21%, to $145.3 million, up from $120 million this year. But the coastal and Great Lakes research program would drop $10.9 million, to $108.8 million; that includes a $6.5 million cut to the ocean exploration program, to $19.7 million.

The agency's satellite programs, meanwhile, are slated to stay on track with an 8% increase, to $2.04 billion. That total includes $916 million for the Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS), a key orbiter program.

Overall, the budget reductions may mean some job losses: The agency's total number of full time equivalent positions would drop to 12,222 under the budget proposal, down from 12,388 this year.

Posted in Funding Budget_2013, NOAA