America will lose much of its ability to monitor global warming from space unless the Bush administration reverses course and restores funding for the next generation of climate instruments, according to a confidential report prepared by government scientists.
Cost overruns and technology problems recently caused the federal government to cut the number of planned monitoring satellites from six to four. Those four will focus on weather prediction rather than climate research, according to the report.
"The recent loss of climate sensors ... places the overall climate program in serious jeopardy," said the report, which was drafted by government atmospheric and space scientists for the White House Office of Science and Technology.
The report was posted on the Internet Monday by Climate Science Watch, a Washington-based watchdog group.
America depends on a variety of satellites operated by the Department of Defense, NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to compile information on everything from sea level change to the erosion of the protective ozone layer in Antarctica.