The Weather Company Viewpoint: the Urgency of Bolstering Federal Science Data and Information

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By: Cameron Clayton, General Manager, The Weather Company, an IBM Business

The America First Budget Blueprint was distributed by the White House Office of Management and Budget several weeks ago, and we – like others in the weather community – are concerned that many of the proposed decreases for NOAA, NASA, and the National Science Foundation (NSF) could result in America’s loss of leadership in government and commercial weather and seasonal prediction and reporting. This would, consequently, have negative impacts on the American economy and increase citizens’ vulnerability to hazardous weather.

Cameron Clayton, General Manager of the Weather Company, an IBM Business

Cameron Clayton, General Manager of the Weather Company

Weather impacts the way we think, feel, and make decisions, and is a significant factor in virtually all business sectors. U.S. businesses lose more than $500 billion each year because of weather-related issues. Weather-related losses have risen 350% since 1980 while causing over $1.1 trillion of economic damage. Furthermore, extreme weather events are becoming more frequent.

Recognizing the importance of weather and climate to the U.S. and global economy, IBM purchased The Weather Company in 2016, in part due to the leading role it plays in helping consumers and businesses make smarter decisions. The Weather Company brands including The Weather Channel digital properties  and Weather Underground (wunderground.com) — provides millions of people and businesses everywhere in the world with the best weather forecasts, content and data, through multiple screens and partners.

Our services are designed to provide critical decision support to a wide variety of business sectors, and to help avoid losses and optimize millions of weather-sensitive decisions made each day. For example, in aviation, our services support efforts to minimize fuel consumption and avoid turbulence, keeping passengers safe on over 50,000 airline flights per day. And the majority of local news outlets across the U.S. power their weather broadcasts through our services.

While weather conditions can literally appear out of thin air, weather forecasts and recommendations do not. Like all other private weather companies, we depend on data and information from federal science agencies, especially NOAA, NASA, and NSF. These agencies’ ground- and space-based observations, modeling, and data archiving for weather, water, and climate provide foundational data sets for our value-added services. Major advances in weather and climate forecasting have been powered by federally sponsored research.

We are concerned about the proposed decreases to investment in these federal programs. These initiatives help make America the envy of the world today, and are the underpinning of a weather and climate enterprise and industry that is making businesses smarter and keeping people safe. They should be strengthened not weakened. Much work remains to advancing our understanding of how the earth’s complicated weather and ecological networks function on timescales of minutes to decades and beyond.

We have asked Congress to consider our views as they set national priorities and make tough choices regarding the federal government’s FY 2018 budget.

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Media Contact:
Melissa Medori, The Weather Company
Ph: (770) 226-2191
melissa.medori@weather.com