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Monday 20 January 2020

Trump cancels NASA programme on greenhouse gas

The White House has "quietly killed" a USD 10-million per year NASA program that tracks carbon and methane, key greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming

Washington: The Trump administration has “quietly killed” $10-million per year NASA program that tracks carbon and methane, key greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming, the journal Science said.

In recent years, though, satellite and aircraft instruments have begun monitoring carbon dioxide and methane remotely, and NASA’s Carbon Monitoring System (CMS), a $10-million-a-year research line, has helped stitch together observations of sources and sinks into high-resolution models of the planet’s flows of carbon. Now, President Donald Trump’s administration has quietly killed the CMS.

NASA’s Carbon Monitoring System (CMS) tracked sources and sinks for carbon and made high-resolution models of the planet’s flows of carbon, said the report.

The journal said NASA “declined to provide a reason for the cancellation beyond ‘budget constraints and higher priorities within the science budget.'”

The move jeopardizes plans to verify the national emission cuts agreed to in the Paris climate accords, says Kelly Sims Gallagher, director of Tufts University’s Center for International Environment and Resource Policy in Medford, Massachusetts.

“If you cannot measure emissions reductions, you cannot be confident that countries are adhering to the agreement,” she says. Cancelling the CMS “is a grave mistake,” she adds.

The White House has mounted a broad attack on climate science, repeatedly proposing cuts to NASA’s earth science budget, including the CMS, and cancellations of climate missions such as the Orbiting Carbon Observatory 3 (OCO-3).

Although Congress fended off the budget and mission cuts, a spending deal signed in March made no mention of the CMS.

The CMS improved other carbon monitoring as well. It supported efforts by the city of Providence to combine multiple data sources into a picture of its greenhouse gas emissions and identify ways to reduce them. It has tracked the dissolved carbon in the Mississippi River as it flows out into the ocean.

But the CMS is an obvious target for the Trump administration because of its association with climate treaties and its work to help foreign nations understand their emissions, says Phil Duffy, president of the Woods Hole Research Center in Falmouth, Massachusetts. And, unlike the satellites that provide the data, the research line had no private contractor to lobby for it.

Many of the 65 projects supported by the CMS since 2010 focused on understanding the carbon locked up in forests.

 

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