Australian news, and some related international items

NASA scientist and European Space Agency dismayed at CSIRO climate research cuts

‘Dismay’: NASA scientist appeals to CSIRO not to cut global climate efforts, The Age, May 12, 2016   Environment Editor, The Sydney Morning Herald

 A top scientist from US space agency NASA has appealed to CSIRO to abandon plans to cut a key monitoring program that it says will undermine Australia and the world’s ability to monitor and predict climate change.

Brent Holben, the project scientist in charge of NASA’s Aerosol Robotic Network, urged CSIRO to reconsider any plans it had to cut or withdraw its contribution to the program, according to a letter obtained by Fairfax Media.

“I understand that CSIRO is undertaking a major restructuring that may lead to the closure of AeroSpan [CSIRO’s partner program],” Dr Holben wrote in the letter addressed to Alex Wonhas, a senior CSIRO executive, and dated May 1, 2016.

“The purpose of this letter is to express my dismay about this, on behalf of NASA and the global aerosol community,” he said.

Fairfax Media understands the AeroSpan program – which includes eight automated monitoring sites across Australia – is earmarked to be shut along with other micro-meteorology research done by CSIRO’s Yarralumla staff in Canberra.

Understanding aerosols – the distribution and character of airborne particles and clouds  – “represent the single greatest source of uncertainty in climate simulations”, Dr Holben said.

CSIRO’s contribution has largely been to help calibrate and validate satellite readings that cannot easily distinguish between different types of aerosols. These range from dust and industrial pollutants to sea salt.

In return, Australia has been promised “unfettered access” to international data, such as from European Space Agency’s Sentinel satellites.

NASA’s letter notes Geoscience Australia has estimated Earth Observation services are worth $5.5 billion to the Australian economy annually, a windfall that will rise to $8.8 billion by 2030.

The cuts are part of 275 jobs to go from CSIRO, many of them in key climate or water roles. The AeroSpan cost to CSIRO is understood to be less than half a million dollars a year and involve just two researchers……..

International angst

Fairfax Media understands that NASA’s complaint has been echoed by the European Space Agency, and individual national research organisations from Japan, Italy and Germany……..

‘Blowing a hole’

Abandoning the AeroSpan project would end aerosol assessment over an entire continent – Australia – and remove “effective coverage of a much larger region of the Southern Hemisphere”, NASA’s Dr Holben said………


May 13, 2016 - Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics international

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