University of Hawaii Selected to Host Department of the Interior’s Climate Science Centers

Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar today announced three universities selected to host the Department of the Interior’s Climate Science Centers (CSCs) for the Northeast, South Central, and Pacific Islands regions. The three locations complete the national network of eight CSCs that will serve to provide land managers in federal, state and local agencies access to the best science available regarding climate change and other landscape-scale stressors. Secretary Salazar also announced today the permanent directors for three existing CSCs.

Near-shore habitat at Palmyra Atoll in the Pacific. Low-elevation islands in the Pacific and elsewhere face particular challenges due to the sea level rise effects of climate change.

“Selecting the locations for the final three of our eight Climate Science Centers is a major milestone in our efforts to implement our department-wide climate change strategy,” Secretary Salazar said. “The nationwide network of Climate Science Centers will provide the scientific talent and commitment necessary for understanding how climate change and other landscape stressors will change the face of the United States, and how the Department of the Interior, as our nation’s chief steward of natural and cultural resources, can prepare and respond.”

The three universities announced today are:

  • The University of Massachusetts-Amherst, which will host the Northeast Climate Science Center;
  • The University of Oklahoma, which will host the South Central Climate Science Center; and
  • The University of Hawaii-Manoa in Honolulu, which will host the Pacific Islands Climate Science Center.

Salazar noted that the CSCs will expand climate science capabilities without building new facilities or duplicating existing capabilities. Each CSC has a consortium of partners facilitating collaboration across the entire science community and expanding the expertise available to the CSC. The South Central CSC Consortium, for example, includes 30 departments within 4 universities.

Hypersaline lake and mudflats on Laysan (Northwestern Hawaiian Islands). The Laysan Albatross is a sea bird that is largely restricted to breeding in the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument and is likely to be impacted by sea-level rise.

The CSCs announced today also have significant participation from tribal communities. The Chickasaw Nation and the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma are partners for the South Central Center, which will include support for a tribal sustainability officer, and the College of Menominee Nation is a partner for the Northeast CSC.

Secretary Salazar also announced the first permanent directors for three existing CSCs today:

  • Dr. Gerard McMahon has been selected as the Director for the Southeast Climate Science Center. McMahon served as team leader of a national study of the effects of urban development conducted by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) National Water Quality Assessment Program.
  • Dr. Stephen Gray has been selected as the Director of the Alaska Climate Science Center. Gray previously served as the Director of the University of Wyoming Water Resources Data System and the Wyoming State Climatologist.
  • Dr. Gustavo Bisbal has been selected as Director of the Northwest Climate Science Center. Before this appointment he served in the Bureau of Oceans, Environment and Science at the U.S. Department of State.

The scientific priorities and agendas of each CSC will be decided in consultation with the Landscape Conservation Cooperatives (LCCs) in their respective regions – which are also part of the department’s coordinated climate change strategy – as well as with other scientists and land managers. The nationwide network of LCCs engages federal agencies, local and state partners, and the public in crafting practical, landscape-level strategies for managing climate change and other landscape-scale stressors impacting the nation’s natural and cultural resources.

Laysan teal (Anas layanensis) on Laysan, Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument (Northwestern Hawaiian Islands) foraging on brine flies (Scatella sexnotata) on the mudflats of the atoll. Photo by M. Reynolds, USGS

The CSCs will serve as regional hubs of the National Climate Change and Wildlife Science Center, located at the headquarters of Interior’s U.S. Geological Survey. USGS is taking the lead on establishing the CSCs and providing initial staffing. Together, Interior’s CSCs and LCCs will assess the impacts of climate change and other landscape-scale stressors that typically extend beyond the borders of any single national wildlife refuge, national park or Bureau of Land Management unit and will identify strategies to ensure that resources across landscapes are resilient.

A list of the eight regional Climate Science Centers follows:

  • The Alaska Climate Science Center is hosted by the University of Alaska-Fairbanks in Anchorage.
  • The Southeast Climate Science Center is hosted by North Carolina State University
  • The Northwest Climate Science Center is supported by a consortium of three universities–Oregon State University, University of Washington and the University of Idaho.
  • The Southwest Climate Science Center has six host organizations: University of Arizona, Tucson; University of California, Davis; University of California, Los Angeles; Desert Research Institute, Reno; University of Colorado, Boulder ; and the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California in San Diego.
  • The North Central Climate Science Center is headed by Colorado State University and includes the University of Colorado, Colorado School of Mines, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, University of Wyoming, Montana State University, University of Montana, Kansas State University, and Iowa State University.
  • The Northeast Climate Science Center will be hosted by the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, with the College of Menominee Nation, Columbia University, Marine Biological Laboratory, University of Minnesota, University of Missouri-Columbia, and University of Wisconsin-Madison serving as consortium partners.
  • The South Central Climate Science Center will be hosted by the University of Oklahoma, with Texas Tech University, Louisiana State University, The Chickasaw Nation, The Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, Oklahoma State University, and NOAA’s Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory serve as consortium partners.
  • The Pacific Islands Climate Science Center will be hosted by the University of Hawaii – Manoa in Honolulu, with the University of Hawaii-Hilo and the University of Guam as consortium partners.

One Response

  1. Thanks Damon for this posting. Really glad to hear the selection of UH for one of the Department of Interior’s Regional Climate Change Centers.

    Margaret Wille

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