NOAA to get supercomputers, satellites

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced that it plans to spend $170 million from the economic stimulus law on supercomputing resources for climate data and $74 million to boost its satellite services. It also proposes to use $7 million to upgrade weather radars.

NOAA received $830 million under the law, and most of the money will go for construction and rehabilitation of agency labs and facilities and coastal habitat restoration, the agency said April 7.

The agency will spend a significant portion on information technology. It plans to spend $170 million to accelerate its high-performance computing capabilities for climate-data recordkeeping, modeling and research.

NOAA will start two supercomputing systems in separate locations that will improve the accuracy of seasonal climate and global climate change assessments. The two sites will be selected by a competitive process, and they will create jobs in manufacturing, construction and software engineering, the agency said.

Another major expenditure will be $74 million to accelerate development of the National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System, along with climate sensors for those satellites, the agency said. The program is a joint effort with the Defense Department.

The satellite funding will allow for development activities and will mitigate cost and schedule risks. It will include instruments to monitor energy and radiation that affect climate change.

The agency will spend $7.4 million on the next-generation Dual Polarization Radar weather system, which will enable signals to be transmitted and received in two dimensions, thereby improving data quality. The system estimates weather conditions such as precipitation, severe weather, snow and hail, and icing conditions for ground transportation.

The agency has established an oversight board for the funding. Program managers will be required to establish and report on performance measures, schedules and costs.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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