The government may shut down, but the ocean does not … and neither do we.
As I write this, legislators are negotiating a deal to fund the government through February 8 in an effort to reopen the federal government after three days. This shutdown was the culmination of months of disagreement over individual appropriations bills that fund our nation’s federal agencies as well as much larger policy priorities held by each political party. Since October 1 (the start of FY 2018), the federal government has operated through short-term continuing resolutions(CRs) that extended funding at near-FY 2017 levels. An inability to reach an agreement as the third CR expired Friday night means nonessential operations, including non-defense agencies and programs (such as most activities of the National Science Foundation and other science agencies) are suspended as Congress and the White House work to reach an agreement on federal funding (and other issues such as immigration and spending caps). Other operations deemed essential, such as those associated with national security and NOAA activities involving weather and ocean forecasting and fisheries management, will continue. It’s imperative that our elected officials quickly find a way to address policy priorities without resorting to brinksmanship games with the federal funding process.
I salute the many dedicated federal employees (and some contractors) who found themselves furloughed this morning as a result of the shutdown, facing uncertainty as to when your employment and income will be restored. The impact on you, your loved ones, and your ability to accomplish important work on behalf of our nation is disappointing to say the least. As a former long-term federal employee and senior governmental official, I offer my personal appreciation for your patience and dedication. Hopefully this is resolved very soon – perhaps even today.
RADM Jonathan W. White, USN (ret.)
President and CEO
Consortium for Ocean Leadership
Sampling The Sea During California’s Apocalyptic Wildfires
In December, a team of researchers and students at the University of California, Santa Barbara made the best of a local tragedy. The Thomas Fire, the largest in the state’s history, burned nearly 300,000 acres in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties north of Los Angeles. Around that time, oceanographer Kelsey Bisson was one of two graduate students leading an expedition into the Santa Barbara Channel – a diverse marine ecosystem just off the coast. They were planning to study how zooplankton and phytoplankton move up and down the water column in the course of the sun’s daily cycle, but after seeing a NASA photo of the smoke plume, Bisson realized they had a “once-in-a-lifetime” opportunity.
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