CEDAR email: Proposed elimination of the USGS Geomagnetism Program

Love, Jeffrey jlove at usgs.gov
Fri Jun 2 17:22:29 MDT 2017

The President’s fiscal year 2018 budget request, released May 23, 2017,
proposes a cut in the budget of the Department of Interior, U.S. Geological
Survey (USGS) that would, effective Oct 1, 2017, eliminate the USGS
Geomagnetism Program (a $1.9 million/year program with 12 full-time
equivalent employee positions and which supports the operation of 14
magnetic observatories in the United States and Territories).


The USGS Geomagnetism Program is an integral part of the multiagency Space
Weather Operations, Response, and Mitigation (SWORM) Subcommittee within
the United States National Science and Technology Council. The role of the
Geomagnetism Program in SWORM is highlighted in the bipartisan Space
Weather Research and Forecasting Act (S. 141) that was passed by unanimous
consent, in the United States Senate on May 2, 2017.

The USGS Geomagnetism Program operates magnetic observatories that provide
real-time, long-term data streams that are used by government, academic,
and the commercial sectors for a wide variety of scientific and operational
purposes. The Program’s observatory data are used for: (1) geomagnetic
storm alerts that are widely used, including for protecting the Nation’s
electric power grid, satellite systems, and other critical infrastructure;
(2) products and services that support multiple Department of Defense and
National Intelligence Community activities; (3) directional drilling for
oil and gas; (4) geophysical surveys and geomagnetic field mapping.

The USGS Geomagnetism Program conducts targeted research of importance to
modern society. In recent years, Program research has been focused on the
evaluation and monitoring of magnetic-storm geoelectric hazards that can
interfere with the operation of electric-power grids. Projects include: (1)
statistical maps of extreme-magnetic-storm geoelectric hazards; (2)
real-time maps of geomagnetic variation across North America; (3) real-time
maps of geoelectric fields across the continental United States; and (4)
contributing to completion of the U.S. EarthScope magnetotelluric (MT)
survey needed to evaluate geoelectric hazards.


If the United States Congress accepts the President’s proposed elimination
of the USGS Geomagnetism Program and if another source of funding cannot be
found, Program research will cease, and the operation of all USGS magnetic
observatories will be terminated.

This means that there would be almost no reliable, real-time, open-access
source for geomagnetic monitoring data for the United States and its
territories. Long time series of geomagnetic activity, some exceeding a
century in duration, would be interrupted.  This would, in turn, cripple
the following data-derived products: (1) standard geomagnetic activity
indices (Dst, Kp, AE) that are needed to issue geomagnetic storm alerts and
model geospace; and (2) the International Geomagnetic Reference Field
(IGRF) model that is widely used for navigation and research.

The following would be adversely affected: (1) the USGS-led project within
SWORM for evaluating geoelectric hazards of importance to the North
American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) and the Federal Energy
Regulatory Commission (FERC); (2) operations of the 557th Weather Wing of
the U.S. Air Force (USAF); (3) operations of the Joint Space Operations
Center (JSpOC) of the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD); (4)
operations of the Space Weather Prediction Center (SWPC) of the National
Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA); (5) numerous research
projects sponsored by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA); (6) foreign-national
geomagnetic projects, such as those of  the Kyoto World Data Center (Japan)
and the GeoForschungsZentrum (Germany); (7) commercial sector services such
as those provided by Space Environment Technologies, PingThings, Inc., and
Computational Physics, Inc.; and (8) collaboration between the USGS and
Schlumberger that supports directional drilling for oil and gas in Alaska.

Carol A. Finn, Geomagnetism Group Leader, cafinn at usgs.gov

Jeffrey J. Love, USGS Advisor for Geomagnetic Research, jlove at usgs.gov

Jeffrey J. Love

USGS Advisor for Geomagnetic Research


jlove at usgs.gov

Professional Profile <https://www.usgs.gov/staff-profiles/jeffrey-j-love>
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