Weather Forecasting Improvement Act of 2013 (H.R. 2413; 113th Congress)

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Weather Forecasting Improvement Act of 2013
Great Seal of the United States
Full title To prioritize and redirect NOAA resources to a focused program of investment on near-term, affordable, and attainable advances in observational, computing, and modeling capabilities to deliver substantial improvement in weather forecasting and prediction of high impact weather events, such as tornadoes and hurricanes, and for other purposes.
Introduced in 113th United States Congress
Introduced on June 18, 2013
Sponsored by Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R, OK-1)
Number of Co-Sponsors 3
Effects and Codifications
U.S.C. section(s) affected 51 U.S.C. § 60161
Agencies affected National Science Foundation, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, United States Congress
Authorizations of appropriations $569,500,000
Legislative history

The Weather Forecasting Improvement Act of 2013 (H.R. 2413) is a bill that would authorize appropriations over the 2014-2017 period for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to improve forecasting of severe weather events.[1] The bill also would authorize NOAA to carry out various other activities related to weather forecasting and research.[1]

The bill was introduced in the United States House of Representatives during the 113th United States Congress.

Background[edit]

"Severe weather" refers to any dangerous meteorological phenomena with the potential to cause damage, serious social disruption, or loss of human life.[2] Types of severe weather phenomena vary, depending on the latitude, altitude, topography, and atmospheric conditions. High winds, hail, excessive precipitation, and wildfires are forms and effects of severe weather, as are thunderstorms, downbursts, lightning, tornadoes, waterspouts, tropical cyclones, and extratropical cyclones. Regional and seasonal severe weather phenomena include blizzards, snowstorms, ice storms, and duststorms.

Provisions of the bill[edit]

This summary is based largely on the summary provided by the Congressional Research Service, a public domain source.[3]

The Weather Forecasting Improvement Act of 2013 would require the Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere (and also the Administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmosphere Administration [NOAA]) to make certain weather-related activities concerning public safety and the national economy the top priority in the planning and management of programs within all relevant NOAA line offices.[3]

The bill would direct the Assistant Administrator of the Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research (OAR) to: (1) undertake a program to develop an improved understanding of forecast capabilities for atmospheric events; (2) establish a tornado warning extension program; and (3) issue a plan for restoring U.S. leadership in weather modeling, prediction, and forecasting.[3]

The bill would require the Under Secretary to: (1) develop a prioritized list of observation data requirements necessary to ensure weather forecasting capabilities to protect life and property; (2) undertake ongoing systematic evaluations of observing systems, data, and information needed to meet the requirements developed under such priority list; (3) identify current and potential future data gaps in observing capabilities related to such requirements; and (4) determine a range of options to address the gaps identified.[3]

The bill would direct the OAR Assistant Administrator to undertake Observing System Simulation Experiments (OSSEs) to assess the relative value and benefits of observing capabilities and systems. Allows technical and scientific OSSE evaluations to include assessments of the impact of observing capabilities on: (1) global weather prediction, (2) hurricane track and intensity forecasting, (3) tornado warning times and accuracy, and (4) prediction of mid-latitude severe local storm outbreaks.[3]

The bill would require OSSEs to: (1) determine the potential impact of proposed space-based, sub-orbital, and in-situ observing systems on analyses and forecasts; (2) evaluate and compare observing system design options; and (3) assess the relative capabilities and costs of various and combinations of observing systems in providing data necessary for the protection of life and property.[3]

The bill would require OSSEs to be conducted: (1) before the acquisition of major government-owned or government-leased operational observing systems, (2) before the purchase of new commercially provided data critical to forecast accuracy, and (3) for any existing commercially provided observing system data contracts exceeding $15 million. Permits OSSEs to be conducted on existing observing systems where such data costs NOAA in excess of $20 million.[3]

The bill would require NOAA to issue a specified plan for high performance computing support of its advanced research and operational weather prediction models.[3]

The bill would permit: (1) the purchase of weather data through contracts with commercial providers, and (2) the placement of weather satellite instruments on co-hosted government or private payloads.[3]

The bill would require a report to Congress assessing the range of commercial opportunities for obtaining space-based weather observations and providing a plan for procuring data from those nongovernmental sources.[3]

Congressional Budget Office report[edit]

This summary is based largely on the summary provided by the Congressional Budget Office, as ordered reported by the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology on December 5, 2013. This is a public domain source.[1]

H.R. 2413 would authorize appropriations over the 2014-2017 period for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to improve forecasting of severe weather events. The bill also would authorize NOAA to carry out various other activities related to weather forecasting and research.[1]

Assuming appropriation of the authorized and necessary amounts, The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that implementing the legislation would cost $530 million over the 2014-2019 period. Enacting H.R. 2413 would not affect direct spending or revenues; therefore, pay-as-you-go procedures do not apply.[1]

H.R. 2413 contains no intergovernmental or private-sector mandates as defined in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act (UMRA) and would impose no costs on state, local, or tribal governments.[1]

Procedural history[edit]

The Weather Forecasting Improvement Act of 2013 was introduced into the United States House of Representatives on June 18, 2013 by Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R, OK-1).[4] It was referred to the United States House Committee on Science, Space and Technology and the United States House Science Subcommittee on Environment. On December 5, 2013, it was ordered to be reported in the nature of a substitute (amended) by a voice vote of the Science Committee.[4] On March 21, 2014, it was reported (amended) alongside House Report 113-383.[4]

Debate and discussion[edit]

The bill's sponsor Rep. Bridenstine introduced the bill in response to several 2013 Oklahoma tornadoes.[5] Bridenstine said that "my state has seen all too many times the destructive power of tornadoes and severe weather. In the wake of the latest outbreak in May that cost 48 lives, it is painfully clear that we must do more."[5] Bridenstine said that he believes more money should be spent on weather forecasting instead of climate change.[5]

According to Republican Chairman of the Environment Subcomittee Chris Stewart, the bill "prioritizes protection of public safety and forward-looking weather research, improves procurement of observing system data from space, air, and land, and opens up NOAA's process to encourage private sector weather solutions."[6]

When it was introduced, the bill only had Republican support.[5] However, at least seven Democrats have become co-sponsors since then, in part due to language changes from the committee stage.[5]

According to liberal blog Think Progress, "both sides agree that increased funding for weather forecasting research is critical, but Democrats criticized Republican plans to take money away from climate change research, which already contributes to weather prediction capabilities."[7]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f "CBO - H.R. 2413". Congressional Budget Office. Retrieved 31 March 2014. 
  2. ^ World Meteorological Organization (October 2004). "Workshop On Severe and Extreme Events Forecasting". Retrieved 31 March 2014. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "H.R. 2413 - Summary". United States Congress. Retrieved 31 March 2014. 
  4. ^ a b c "H.R. 2413 - All Actions". United States Congress. Retrieved 31 March 2014. 
  5. ^ a b c d e Kasperowicz, Pete (28 March 2014). "GOP: Predict storms, not climate change". The Hill. Retrieved 31 March 2014. 
  6. ^ Stewart, Chris (9 July 2013). "Statement of Environment Subcommittee Chairman Chris Stewart". Committee on Science, Space, and Technology. Retrieved 31 March 2014. 
  7. ^ Judy Li; Michael Conathan (12 July 2013). "GOP 'Climate Disconnect' Would Sacrifice Climate Research for Weather Forecasting". Think Progress blog. Retrieved 31 March 2014. 

External links[edit]

 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the United States Government.