WASHINGTON — President Trump signed into law this week a weather bill that includes provisions formally authorizing ongoing commercial satellite weather data projects and a study of future weather satellite needs.
The president signed the Weather Research and Forecasting Innovation Act of 2017 April 18, according to a statement from the White House. The bill originally passed the House in January on a voice vote, while the Senate approved an amended version March 29 by unanimous consent. The House adopted the Senate’s version, again by a voice vote, April 4.
Among the bill’s provisions is language formally authorizing the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to purchase weather data from commercial satellite systems. The bill authorizes NOAA to spend $6 million a year in fiscal years 2017 through 2020 for a pilot program of data purchases to evaluate the effectiveness of commercial data to support weather forecasting.
NOAA has already started such a pilot program using $3 million appropriated to the agency in fiscal year 2016. In September 2016, NOAA awarded contracts to GeoOptics and Spire, with a combined value of a little more than $1 million, for GPS radio occultation data.
In an April 3 interview, Steven Volz, assistant administrator ...