Scientists available for comment on current government shutdown

23 January 2019


WASHINGTON, DC — The current U.S. government shutdown is affecting Earth and space science research. Below is a list of some of the projects and scientists that have been negatively affected by the shutdown. Reporters who would like more information about these projects or who would like to interview the scientists listed here should contact the public information officers listed below. AGU will continue to update this list as more information is gathered.

Brian Arbic is a professor at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Several of Arbic’s oceanographic research projects have been delayed, including a project utilizing a NASA computer with data on tidal dissipation over geological time scales as well as a project testing ocean models for NOAA and the U.S. Navy. Furloughs of federal research collaborators is impeding the analysis needed for a project with NASA that compares satellite altimetry measurements to global ocean forecasting models from both the U.S. and France. Some oceanography doctoral students at the University of Michigan do not know their career status. For example, one student will not learn of the results of his application for a postdoctoral position at a government lab until the shutdown ends, putting his career plans on hold. Funds from an NSF grant have not been received, impacting the ability to pay for the final semester of another oceanography Ph.D. student.
University of Michigan Press Contact:
Email: James Erickson, ericksn@umich.edu
Phone: (734) 647 1842

Angeline Pendergrass is a scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) and a climate expert. Pendergrass relies on government data to study how climate change will impact precipitation and the hydrologic cycle on a global scale. In addition to delaying an update to an important observational dataset, the shutdown could result in gaps in the data collection she relies on.
NCAR Press Contact
Email: Ali Branscombe, abran@ucar.edu
Phone: (303) 497-8609

James T. Potemra is a professor at the University of Hawaii at Manoa and manager of the Asia-Pacific Data-Research Center (APDRC). Both the APDRC and Pacific Islands Ocean Observing System (PacIOOS) routinely get raw data from NOAA sites used to create data analyses. For PacIOOS, these data come from satellites while APDRC mostly reanalyzes existing sources – both of which are being delayed as a result of the shutdown. Similarly, other organizations traditionally access raw data directly from NOAA. However, due to the shutdown, NOAA is not available to provide this information. As such, Potemra’s much smaller team are now having to manage these requests directly and are not equipped to handle such a large volume of inquiries.
University of Hawaii at Manoa Press Contact
Email: Marcie Grabowski, mworkman@hawaii.edu
Phone: (808) 956-3151 or (808) 956-9987

Andreas Prein is a scientist at NCAR who studies extreme precipitation and major storms. His work requires federal grants and the shutdown is delaying the grant application process, which could result in delayed research and improvements on extreme storm models.
NCAR Press Contact
Email: Ali Branscombe, abran@ucar.edu
Phone: (303) 497-8609

Laura Read is a hydrologist at NCAR conducting research in support of NOAA’s National Water Model. While collaborators at NOAA are furloughed, Read and her colleagues face delayed project timelines, which will likely impact delivery of important updates to the operational model and could ultimately affect forecasts for water-related disasters.
NCAR Press Contact
Email: Ali Branscombe, abran@ucar.edu
Phone: (303) 497-8609

Chris Sabine is a professor at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. The shutdown has ramifications for the ocean acidification moorings maintained around Hawaii in collaboration with NOAA/Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory (PMEL). One of these moorings is overdue for servicing, but can’t be fixed as the equipment is unable to be shipped from PMEL. Also, it is unclear if the real-time data from all these moorings is going to PMEL as is mandated. Thus, the shutdown is putting a lot of equipment and irreplaceable data at risk.
University of Hawaii at Manoa Press Contact
Email: Marcie Grabowski, mworkman@hawaii.edu
Phone: (808) 956-3151 or (808) 956-9987

Brice Semmens is an associate professor in the Marine Biology Research Division at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego and director of the California Cooperative Oceanic Fisheries Investigations (CalCOFI) program. Scripps Institution of Oceanography had to cancel an 8 January CalCOFI research trip aboard the NOAA ship Reuben Lasker. Since 1949, the CalCOFI program has surveyed the physical and biological conditions off the California coast to manage living resources and monitor indicators of climate change.
UC San Diego Press Contact
Email: Rob Monroe, rmonroe@ucsd.edu
Phone: (858) 822 4487

Curtis Walker is a postdoctoral fellow with NCAR. His research incorporates machine learning to predict hazardous road conditions in the winter. Walker relies heavily on accurate winter weather data and is seeing a degradation in the federal data he needs for his research, while some data is unavailable entirely. The result could mean a restructuring of his research, which could then postpone potential collaborations with the transportation sector.
NCAR Press Contact
Email: Ali Branscombe, abran@ucar.edu
Phone: (303) 497-8609

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