Colorado State University Named Host Institution of Department of the Interior’s North Central Climate Science Center

Note to Reporters: Highlights of CSU’s climate research, Congressional statements of support, list of CSU’s federal research centers and a map of the north central region are available with the news release at

Colorado State University is a hub of climate change research and is now home to one of eight U.S. Department of the Interior Climate Science Centers, announced today by Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar. The CSU-led consortium of nine universities and other affiliated national laboratories was selected to host a regional Climate Science Center. The center is designed to put science to work to help federal, state, local, private and non-profit natural resource managers understand current and future impacts of climate change on critical natural, cultural, wildlife and agricultural resources.

The new North Central Climate Science Center will eventually host as many as eight federal scientists and several post-doctoral fellows who will provide regional land, water, fish and wildlife, and cultural heritage resource managers with the scientific tools and information to strategically adapt to and mitigate the impacts of climate change. The center is expected to be up and running in early 2011.

The CSU-led North Central consortium 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. In addition, other federal partners in the consortium include the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, National Center for Atmospheric Research and others.

“The members of the consortium headed by Colorado State University can provide us with great expertise in the major climate-related challenges facing the North Central region – including diminishing water supplies, the spread of invasive species, outbreaks of pests and diseases, changing fire regimes, decreased crop and livestock production, and loss of habitat for critical fish and wildlife species,” said Salazar. “Selected through an open competition, these universities represent the full array of landscapes in the Rocky Mountains, Intermountain West and Great Plains.”

Regional Climate Issues

Federal scientists will collaboratively work with university researchers and address pressing regional climate issues such as the effects of pine bark beetle outbreaks on water, forest conditions and grizzly bears in Yellowstone National Park, and study the potential for dust from overgrazed areas to accelerate climate-driven snowpack melting.

Other work of the U.S. Department of the Interior North Central Climate Science Center will include:

  • Downscaling of global climate change models linking physical factors with biological, physical and ecological responses.
  • Forecasting of the effects of climate change on fish and wildlife populations, habitat and ecosystem services dynamics – including research as well as tool and data development and distribution.
  • Researching climate adaptation related to vulnerability assessments, adaptive management development, coping strategies and risk analysis development.
  • Developing innovative decision-support tools for adaptation and mitigation.

Colorado State University as Host

Colorado State University’s historic strength in environmental research and education on climate issues affecting land, water and energy supplies not only advances scientific understanding, it also cultivates the next generation of students and scientific workforce, making CSU an ideal host of a Climate Science Center.

“Colorado State University faculty have long been leaders in advancing environmental and climate research, and we’re honored and proud to be named home to the new North Central Climate Science Center, “ said CSU President Tony Frank. “This is a testament to the extraordinary achievements of our faculty and their colleagues across the region, and it will provide them a stronger platform to engage with other scientists on critical and pressing climate studies.”

Dennis Ojima, professor in CSU’s Department of Forest, Rangelands and Watershed Stewardship and senior research scientist at the Natural Resource Ecology Laboratory in CSU’s Warner College of Natural Resources, will lead the consortium.

“CSU has world-class expertise in climate, and we are leaders in engaging the public and policy makers in rendering our science and discoveries into practical solutions. Those strengths will be critical as the North Central Climate Science Center engages the research community and then ultimately translates that science to the decision-making community,” Ojima said.

State of Colorado Leader in Climate Science

In addition to premiere research universities, the state of Colorado is home to one of the most respected climate science communities in the world with many prominent institutions specializing in climate science including the National Center for Atmospheric Research, National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration’s Earth Science Research Laboratory, National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Western Water Assessment Regional Integrated Science and Assessments program, Agriculture Research Service, National Ecological Observation Network among many others. The North Central consortium will tap these and other institutions as they address regional climate science.

“Congratulations to Colorado State University for being selected to lead such a prestigious consortium of research institutions and to serve as host for the North Central Climate Science Center,” said Gov. Bill Ritter. “Over the past few years, Colorado has become a recognized leader in addressing climate change. We have enacted numerous policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and implemented strategies to adapt to and mitigate those impacts. This new regional center will advance this work and continue to keep Colorado on the leading edge of one of the most important challenges facing the world today.”

Other Climate Science Centers

The regional Climate Science Centers are a key element of the Interior Department’s first-ever coordinated strategy to address current and future impacts of climate change on America’s land, water, ocean, fish, wildlife and cultural resources. Climate Science Centers are intended to be a seamless network to access the best science available to help resource managers and decision-makers.

On Wednesday, the Interior Department announced the University of Arizona as home of the Southwest Climate Science Center. The Southeast Climate Science Center is led by North Carolina State University, the University of Washington hosts the Northwest Climate Science Center, and an Alaska Climate Science Center is led by the University of Alaska. The department will soon announce the host institutions for the Northeast, South Central and Pacific Islands Climate Science Centers.

Salazar initiated the coordinated climate change network in September 2009 that not only created the regional Climate Science Centers, but also a network of Landscape Conservation Cooperatives that engage federal agencies, local and state partners, and the public in crafting practical, landscape-level strategies for managing climate change impacts on natural resources.