Scientists urge upgrade of U.S. satellite system

If global warming wasn't bad enough, scientists have more unsettling news.

According to a study released Monday by the National Research Council, scientists won't be able to predict events like hurricanes unless the United States upgrades its satellite system that monitors the Earth's environment and climate. The study, according to Reuters, said that the United States must invest $3 billion annually from 2010 to 2020 to maintain the current observation system. It includes 29 Earth "missions"--meaning a single satellite or cluster of satellites--run by NASA and the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration.

If left without funds, the number of missions could fall to 17 within three years and to five by 2020, one scientist warned. Losing a satellite like the one measuring sea-surface roughness could hobble scientists' ability to predict events like El Nino, according to the report. That's why the investment is crucial, the scientists said. "This is only about $10 for every American. But it will probably save more money than it costs in the long run," co-chair Richard Anthes of the Colorado-based University Corporation for Atmospheric Research said in the report, which was released at the annual meeting of the American Meteorological Society in San Antonio, Texas.


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