Too stupid to be funded.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has abandoned an effort to reconstruct a detailed picture of hour-by-hour changes in the atmosphere stretching back to the 19th century.
Known as the 20th Century Reanalysis, the project has already helped scientists better understand the causes of historic weather events like the Dust Bowl of the 1930s and unusual Arctic warmth during the 1920s and 1930s. Those discoveries and others could eventually improve the predictions of climate models that look decades into the future.
But now the program, originally scheduled to run through 2013, is on hold as NOAA struggles with a large budget shortfall in its Climate Program Office.
Climate scientists are crying foul, calling the decision to pull the plug shortsighted…
The 20th Century Reanalysis is the first attempt to get around those limits and create a record that reaches far enough into the past to reveal processes that have shaped natural climate cycles, like the El Niño Southern Oscillation, as well as the drivers of man-made climate change.
The project does so by eschewing satellite observations, relying only on temperature and pressure data to reconstruct the climate in six-hour chunks from 1871 to 2010.
But even those data are limited. Modern temperature records began in the 1880s. By the 1930s, meteorologists had started deploying weather balloons. And radar was developed during World War II.
To fill in the gaps, the NOAA team has plumbed historical records of temperature and pressure collected by naval vessels, polar explorers’ expeditions, commercial ship traffic, Army bases and even Jesuit monks…