USGS funds reduction
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Geomagnetism is not just about compass needles
The International Association of Geomagnetism and Aeronomy (IAGA) is greatly concerned to learn of the possible closure of the USGS Geomagnetism program, following the announcement of the US President’s budget request for fiscal year 2018.
IAGA is a scientific association within the International Union of Geodesy and Geophysics, one of the 32 scientific Unions of the International Council for Science. IAGA is a non-governmental organization, which promotes international cooperation and dialogue between Geomagnetism scientists funded by national and trans-national agencies and programs. IAGA is primarily concerned with research into the Earth’s magnetic field. For instance, IAGA encourages scientists to produce the International Geomagnetic Reference Field (IGRF), for precise navigation, and to contribute to INTERMAGNET, the international network of magnetic observatories, which promotes global standards in magnetic monitoring.
The US is a leader in Geomagnetism research. The first-rate USGS geomagnetic measurement, mapping and research program underpins research and data products produced by IAGA scientists, within the US and beyond. Without the specific input of the USGS Geomagnetism program, geomagnetic scientists will be unable to produce key global magnetic activity indices and the IGRF will be significantly degraded. This will have significant economic, technological, military and wider societal consequences. For example, reliable knowledge of the geomagnetic field and how it is affected by solar storms is crucial for the safety of space and satellite missions and electrical power transmission networks at higher latitudes.
Terminating the USGS Geomagnetism program will have adverse effects on the international geomagnetism community, but it will also have technological and socio-economic consequences within the US. This budget proposal will not just result in ending a number of permanent positions within USGS and the closure of 14 geomagnetic observatories, but it will also result in severe loss of data production, data access and knowledge related to space weather. This will affect businesses concerned with satellite operations, power grid networks, magnetic anomaly data acquisition and mapping of natural resources, directional drilling and many other economically significant activities. All this has immense technological, economic and military importance.
IAGA therefore urges the US authorities to consider the importance of the USGS Geomagnetism program for the US and international scientific communities and society in general, and to take corresponding action in revision of the 2018 budget to continue this important program.
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