The U.S. Department of Energy released a statement last week revealing it used $60 million of the $1.2 billion given to the agency in economic stimulus funds for purchasing “advanced-technology research instruments” to study climate change. While some might consider the expenditure frivolous, especially given the nation's financial woes, it should be noted that some of the equipment was not even intended for use in the U.S. but rather was deployed to facilities in the Maldives, India and Australia.
The DOE’s Atmospheric Radiation Measurement, or ARM program, was launched more than two decades ago as a way to improve scientific models for climate research and weather prediction. In a statement released on Aug. 18 on the Recovery.gov Web site – the site tracking the $821-billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 -- ARM is described by the Obama administration as a program focused on climate change.
“A Department of Energy program that studies global climate change has nearly finished deploying 143 advanced-technology research instruments bought with $60 million in Recovery funding,” the announcement states. “The instruments--some new, others newly upgraded--will provide more precise measurements for researchers to use in developing computer models that simulate the earth’s climate.”
“The models are used to study climate changes,” the announcement states.
ARM is reportedly part of the DOE’s Office of Science and includes facilities worldwide.
The statement alleges the “advanced radar equipment” will “more closely study the interaction of major components of climate systems.”
Details about the equipment and where it was placed were also part of DOE’s announcement:
- North Slope of Alaska – Precipitation and cloud radar systems.
- Northern Oklahoma – Precipitation and cloud radar systems, and lasers that determine precise altitude of clouds.
- ARM Mobile Facility 1 (now in India) – Cloud radar systems and equipment that measures air moisture.
- ARM Mobile Facility 2 (now in Maldives) – Equipment to detect the amount of water vapor in the air and lasers to measure cloud altitudes.
- ARM Aerial Facility (Richland, Washington) – New data storage/communication systems and equipment to measure airborne particulate matter, like soot or dust, which both reflect and absorb incoming sunlight and also initiate the formation of clouds. (Clouds generally do not form by themselves—a bit of particulate matter is required as a surface for a water drop to form on.)
- Australia – Cloud radar systems and lasers to measure cloud altitudes.
CNS also points out that Recovery.gov website does not reveal whether jobs have in fact been created as a result of the $60 million expenditure.