Note: This story was last updated at 9:20 a.m. July 13.
The Trump administration’s budget request for the next fiscal year would close a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration air research laboratory that has a division in Oak Ridge, according to budget documents posted online.
The budget request for fiscal year 2018, which starts October 1, would close NOAA’s Air Resources Laboratory, or ARL, which has headquarters in College Park, Maryland. The Air Resources Laboratory has satellite campuses in Oak Ridge, Tennessee; Idaho Falls, Idaho; Las Vegas, Nevada; and Mercury, Nevada. Those satellite campuses would also close, according to the documents, which were posted by the NOAA Budget Office.
The Oak Ridge campus is on South Illinois Avenue, in a historic building that was once an emergency hospital and then a health department. It now houses the Atmospheric Turbulence and Diffusion Division, or ATDD. The Atmospheric Turbulence and Diffusion Division is one of several field divisions of the Air Resources Laboratory. The ARL in turn is part of NOAA’s Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research.
There are 33 employees at the Oak Ridge campus, including NOAA and ORAU workers. The primary focus of the ATDD is to maintain NOAA’s Climate Reference Network, a network of weather stations across the United States, including Alaska and Hawaii, to monitor climate change.
The Oak Ridge division also works with other NOAA groups that study the formation of tornadoes, using unmanned aerial vehicles to understand tornado formation. It also works with the Air Resources Laboratory headquarters on air quality modeling and forecasting.
The NOAA budget request, which has not been approved by Congress, proposes zeroing out funding and employment at the Air Resources Laboratory, cutting base funding from about $4.7 million and 34 full-time equivalents (FTE) to $0 and zero FTE. President Donald Trump submitted his administration’s budget request to Congress on Tuesday, May 23. [Read more…]