Last Thursday, I attended the Navy change of command ceremony for the Navy Meteorology and Oceanography Command at Stennis Space Center in Mississippi, where Rear Admiral Tim Gallaudet was relieved by Rear Admiral John Okon. Gallaudet, who will retire at the end of August, is an amazing leader and oceanographer, and I predict we will continue to see his star rise in the ocean science community in the coming years. Okon is similarly a terrific leader and oceanographer, and he will continue to lead the Navy’s oceanographic operations and initiatives with great success. We are fortunate to have such exceptional individuals as key ocean leaders. While I was in Mississippi, I took the opportunity to visit a number of our member institutions – details of those visits will be in next week’s President’s Corner.
In the meantime, Congress rushed to move their bills funding the government before the August recess. I am encouraged by the Senate’s Commerce, Justice, and Science (CJS) bill, which funds NSF, NOAA, and NASA. Its unveiling made clear what Representative Don Young emphatically proclaimed during this year’s Public Policy Forum, “The president doesn’t write the budget … the United States Congress writes the budget!” Similar to their colleagues in the House, Senate appropriators largely ignored program terminations proposed in the president’s budget, rejecting the request to reduce NOAA’s funding for climate, weather, and oceans by 32% and maintaining funding for programs like Sea Grant, the National Estuarine Research Reserve System, Coastal Zone Management Grants, and the Regional Coastal Resilience Grant program (full details in story below). While Congress is far from finalizing appropriations for the upcoming fiscal year, the much-improved Senate bill leaves me hopeful that the importance of science, and its role in ocean management, has not been overlooked.
The House passed a “minibus” spending package consisting of four of the 12 spending bills (mostly related to security) along party lines. However, even Republican backers of the bill find it unlikely it will become law – it is $72.5 billion over a legal cap on defense spending. For it to be enacted during the 12 legislative days both chambers are in session after August recess but before the end of the fiscal year, a bipartisan budget agreement would need to be reached that adjusts the cap. All while Congress also works to pass the remaining eight appropriations bills and raise the debt ceiling to avoid the government defaulting on legal obligations. It’s safe to say it’s going to be a busy September!
RADM Jonathan W. White, USN (ret.)
President and CEO
Consortium for Ocean Leadership
A New Model Yields Insights Into Glaciers’ Retreats And Advances
A University of Alaska Fairbanks study looking at the physics of tidewater glaciers has yielded new insights into what drives their retreat-and-advance cycles and the role that climate plays in these cycles.
Lead author and UAF geophysics doctoral student Douglas Brinkerhoff said the study in Nature Communications reveals that shifting sediments drive the cycles among tidewater glaciers in temperate climates such as southern Alaska. The study also reveals that these glaciers don’t need periods of warming within the temperate climates to trigger the glacier’s retreat, as previously thought.