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Alaska to Get Regional Climate Center

NOAA reorganization puts more focus on Alaska, Arctic issues

U.S. Sen. Mark Begich is applauding an announcement from the National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) of a major reorganization of the agency responsible for fisheries, ocean health, weather predictions, environmental monitoring, and climate science that will result with more focus on Alaska and the Arctic.

NOAA's announcement includes a plan to reorganize and consolidate its climate science and budget into a single NOAA sub-bureau called the National Climate Service. The reorganization establishes Alaska as one of six regional climate centers set up to answer questions about the many areas covered by NOAA.

"With fisheries, ocean health and climate change among some of the top issues in Alaska, this is good news as NOAA moves forward with its reorganization," Begich said. "The decision to establish Alaska as a separate region in the new organization recognizes Alaska's unique climate systems and the growing understanding that climate change in the Arctic is having global consequences."

Currently, Alaska is served through a climate center in Reno, Nevada. Alaska climate researchers and policy makers have pointed out the difficulties with that structure as Reno is occupied with drought forecasting and other issues in the Southwest U.S.

"Whether planning for village relocation sites or making decisions on new utility corridors and roads over permafrost, Alaska has a huge demand for climate information," Begich added.

Reorganizing federal climate science was the topic of a July 2009 Commerce Committee hearing where Sen. Begich asked agency leaders to come back to Congress with a plan that coordinates and integrates NOAA's climate activities and budget.

Begich said to expect a congressional hearing when the specific details of the National Climate Service are delivered to lawmakers. The reorganization is not expected to result in any job losses or forced relocation of employees.

For more information go to http://www.noaa.gov/climate.

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