Geoscience plays a critical role in seaport infrastructure.

We’d Face A Rocky Road Without Geoscience

When most people enter a hiking trail with several days’ worth of food, they’re at the start of a camping adventure. For residents of Big Sur, California, they’re making one of many weekly trips back from the grocery store. Four months ago, a mudslide collapsed a bridge, making the small hiking path the only access to the outside world for much of Big Sur.

For NFIP policyholders, premiums rose after Superstorm Sandy. (Wikipedia)

A Stormy Debate Ensues Over Flood Insurance Reauthorization

After a recent series of severe storms over several years resulted in $24.6 billion of debt, Democrats and Republicans agreed that the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) could be improved before reauthorization. They disagreed, however, on how to make that happen.

Dr. William Easterling will lead the Geosciences Directorate at the National Science Foundation starting in June 2017. (Credit: NSF)

Skinny Science Budget: Not a Good Model

The National Science Foundation (NSF) supports critical and potentially life-saving research across the United States, such as studies to predict risks associated with earthquakes and tsunamis along the Cascadia subduction zone. The president’s budget recommendation for Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 for NSF is $6.65 billion, an 11 percent decrease from the enacted budget for FY 2017. This is the only time a president has ever proposed a cut to the agency’s top line in its 67-year history.

Red snapper (credit: Wikipedia commons)

Red Snapper And Proposed Budget Cuts Snap Attention Of Senators During Appropriations Committee Hearing

The Department of Commerce (DOC) touches your life in more ways than you’d imagine, impacting areas from trade to economic development to weather forecasting. On Thursday, the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, and Science held a hearing to discuss the president’s budget recommendations for the DOC for Fiscal Year (FY) 2018. Senators from both sides of the aisle were concerned with the proposed steep cuts, which represent a 15.8 percent decrease from FY 2017 enacted levels and highlighted programs, including Sea Grant, that have tremendous returns on investment for their states.

A true-color NASA satellite mosaic of Earth. (Credit: NASA)

Proposed NASA Budget Aims For Mars But Misses Earth

Imagine what our knowledge of the world today would be like without satellite images of Earth. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) Earth Sciences mission has fundamentally altered and improved our understanding of the atmosphere, ocean, land, weather, climate, and ecosystems – and now, the resources that support this science are under attack.

Deficiencies in offshore drilling management highlighted in House committee hearing. (Credit: Adam Dean/New York Times)

Is This What A Balanced Budget Looks Like?

Secretary of the Department of the Interior (DOI) Ryan Zinke had his hands full fielding concerns from Democrats and Republicans as he defended the president’s budget request for the DOI in front of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies. While he called the proposal one that “reflects the Administration’s commitment to strengthen America’s economic and energy security, focus on the nation’s infrastructure, be responsible stewards of magnificent lands, encourage public access for outdoor recreation, and strengthen tribal sovereignty and support self-determination,” Ranking Member Betty McCollum (MN-4) called the president’s proposal (which cuts DOI by 13 percent ($1.6 billion) and funding for climate change research and mitigation by 80 percent) “unacceptable.”

(Click to enlarge) U.S. Coast Guard. (Credit: Wikipedia Commons)

Operating On A Shoestring

In the dead of night, Aviation Survival Technician 2nd Class Darren Harrity swam steadily through 57-degree water, fighting five-foot waves and 30 mph winds. After a hoisting mechanism malfunctioned during a search-and-rescue operation, the rescue swimmer was forced to make four trips to pull as many men 250 yards to shore. His story was highlighted by Mr. John Acton (Chairman, Coast Guard Affairs Committee, Navy League of the United States) during a hearing reviewing U.S. Coast Guard infrastructure, improvements, and funding before the House Transportation and Infrastructure, Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation.

FEMA's Technical Mapping Advisory Council makes recommendations on flood maps. (Credit: Walter Jennings/Wikipedia)

Committee Picks Up Flood Insurance Reauthorization

If there was one thing Republicans and Democrats easily agreed on this week, it’s that being $24.6 billion in debt is no way to operate. In a hearing preparing for the reauthorization of the National Flood Insurance Program, legislators on the House Financial Services Committee proposed changes to the program to help it gain sounder financial ground.

Aerial Photograph Of Palm Beach Proper, which is endangered by sea-level rise. (Credit: Michael Kagdis/Proper Media Group)

“Mother Nature Doesn’t Belong To A Party”

While most people acknowledge climate change as a significant issue, many do not realize the looming threat it poses to our national security. For many military experts, it’s a risk as pressing as nuclear weapons or terrorism, dramatically altering “the very geostrategic landscape in which the U.S. military operates” (Military Expert Panel Center for Climate and Security Report: Sea Level Rise and the U.S. Military’s Mission). The Department of Defense (DOD) considers climate change a “threat multiplier,” amplifying instability by worsening stressors like food and water scarcity, poverty, and social tensions, which can drive political upheaval and threaten global stability, creating a security threat at home and abroad.