Few know it, but Nevada is at the center of data collection on weather. That data is used to help everyone from farmers to bridge builders to wildfire fighters in nine western states plus Alaska and Hawaii.
The Trump Administration is asking for an 82 percent cut in the budget of the Regional Climate Centers, a network that includes the Western Regional Climate Center in Reno.
Tim Brown is director of the Climate Center, which is part of the Desert Research Institute, said the entire Regional Climate Centers budget is under $4 million. About $800,000 of that funds the center in Reno.
Data from the center is used by meteorologists to help verify weather models. It can also be used by climatologists to help determine the veracity of models that are being used to talk about climate change.
“Everyone lives in weather and climate and a lot of folks probably don’t realize how this information is used in many things that do impact them," Brown said.
For example, he said, energy companies use the information to predict how much power customers will need, the ski industry uses the data to watch for avalanche, snow, and wind conditions, and the transportation industry uses it for road conditions.
He said without the funding the center would have to cut back or shut down services it provides.
Brown can't speak to why the Trump administration wants to cut funding, but he pointed to testimony by the Commerce secretary that said the administration's priority was defense and homeland security.
“I think folks should realize that climate is an important element in global security as well,” he said.
Droughts, floods, and other disasters related to climate can make other global matters worse, Brown explained.
However, it is ultimately up to Congress to decide whether to cut funding. Brown said the climate centers have received bi-partisan support for more than 30 years.
"A number of representatives and senators throughout the U.S. do endorse the program and support it because they see the value that it provides back to the public and to businesses," he said.
Tim Brown, director, Western Regional Climate Center
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