Funding for the six Regional Climate Centers across the nation would be cut 82 percent under President Trump’s budget proposal. The cuts would affect the Western Regional Climate Center that operates out of the Desert Research Institute in Reno, NV.
The Center provides weather and climate data to states and the public. The data it collects is used to help farmers know when to plant crops and help emergency managers protect the public from floods and wildfires. Local and regional water managers often base water allocations and reservoir storage plans on climate data that is housed at the WRCC.
It also provides information on snowpack and drought.
“We have the only Drought Monitor author west of Lincoln, Nebraska in our group that serves the western US," says Dr. Tim Brown, climatology director of the Western Regional Climate Center. "These are the folks that put together that National Drought Monitor map that is widely utilized by all kinds of agencies.”
Under the President's proposal, funding for the Centers would decrease from from $3.65 million to just $650,000.
“The level of activity will go down, will go down considerably, but no one will be left without a Center,” said Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross during budget testimony last month.
But Brown says the Centers can’t operate with such a drastic cut.
“The problem is that $650,000 is just about the minimum number to support one climate center, let alone all six,” says Brown.