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​Ninety-six percent of weather-forecasting data comes
from weather satellites, yet the system is aging and
at risk of becoming unreliable to the military and
intelligence community.

​The U.S. potentially faces a "catastrophic" reduction in weather and climate data starting in 2016, resulting in less reliable weather forecasts and actionable intelligence, according to a federally-commissioned review panel. A National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)/National Environmental Satellite Data and Information Service independent review team (IRT) – comprised of veterans of the weather, space and aerospace industries – found that NOAA has not done enough to mitigate the impacts of a weather satellite coverage gap.
 
At the same time, the Department of Defense weather satellite program could experience coverage loss in 2019, when two satellites cover the workload of six. And the recent release of the Obama Administration’s Arctic military strategy highlights the importance of understanding environmental changes and the impact on national security.
 
Unfortunately, no FY14 dollars have been allocated to fund the next generation of military weather satellites, which will fill the looming gap and better aid military operations. If funding is not approved, one proposed solution would be for the U.S. to purchase data from China to compensate for lost U.S. data. Due to cybersecurity concerns and ties between the Chinese space industry and military, this proposal has caused concern among policymakers.
 
This infographic, developed by Exelis Geospatial Systems, sheds additional light on this critical issue and possible solutions.