NASA carbon program cut will have major impact on climate science

The Trump administration has cut NASA's Carbon Monitoring System (CMS) budget, removing its ability to measure greenhouse gases. The news follows last month's troubling revelation that average CO2 levels in April exceeded 410ppm, a startling figure and the highest ever recorded. Without the funding, NASA will use up the rest of its grants on CMS, then bring an end of the project.

READ: April's CO2 levels had the highest average in recorded history

NASA has been monitoring CO2 levels and making the data available on its website. Records show a clear connection between human activities and a rapid increase in CO2 levels. Carbon dioxide (CO2) is a greenhouse gas, meaning it traps heat and contributes to a warming planet.

Atmospheric CO2 levels naturally vary and are influenced by natural processes, such as when a volcano erupts. However, human activities — like burning fossil fuels — greatly contribute to CO2 levels and are causing are planet to warm rapidly.

Last week, Science Mag discovered that the $10 million NASA CMS program was quietly put out commission by the Trump administration, which has long expressed hostility toward climate science while supporting harmful industries. This is a blow to climate science and reduction measures around the globe; NASA's program provided vital measurements used by researchers around the world.

Though the program's elimination won't prevent researchers and agencies from monitoring carbon levels, the task has become more fragmented and difficult with potential decreases in accuracy. In the absence of NASA's program, the burden will transfer to Europe and its single carbon-measuring satellite.

SOURCE: Science Mag