Cong. Davis Credited With Securing Climate Center Funding
By Jeff Bossert
A facility in Champaign that provides weather data to farmers and planners credits a local congressman for extending its contract through next month.
The Midwestern Regional Climate Center and its 10 employees rely mostly on federal funding, roughly about 85 percent.
Director Beth Hall says it learned in January that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration wanted to fund and manage the country’s six regional climate centers differently, and that could have meant an end to the center in Champaign, or merging it with another one.
That’s when Congressman Rodney Davis (R-Taylorville) asked NOAA to reconsider, and the center got a 6-month extension.
Hall said the center serves a vital role with climate events like the 2012 drought, or occasional crop freeze events.
She said it’s not simply a warehouse of data, but serves as a network between that information and the community.
“It’s almost like the national weather service," she said. "People assume that anytime they can go on line as see what the forecast is from the national weather service. Same situation with the climate centers, is we are working off of daily, if not hourly data. So we can’t do that same timing scenario that traditional grants and contracts that the federal government supports works off of. Because we need to be thinking, what are we going to do come October first if we are no longer getting funding?”
The center collaborates with the Illinois State Water Survey and University of Illinois, located in the university's research park.
Its staff ranges from climate scientists to information technology personnel.