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Boise State Joins Federal Climate Science Center University Consortium

By: Cienna Madrid   Published 12:00 pm / August 7, 2017

Boise State University is one of five new university partners in the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Northwest Climate Science Center (CSC) university consortium. The University of Washington will host the consortium; other university partners include the University of Montana, Washington State University and Western Washington University.

center logoThese five universities were selected as the CSC host and consortium partners after an open competition and extensive review by scientific experts. They will work as part of the collaborative network that defines the Northwest CSC. This includes working closely with federal, state and tribal entities, including those responsible for managing and protecting the land, water and natural resources of the Northwest, to develop actionable climate science and decision support tools.

“Boise State has developed a reputation for excellence in understanding issues related to water, wildlife, and landscape ecology throughout the dry interior of the Pacific Northwest,” said Lejo Flores, an associate professor of geosciences and director of the Lab for Ecohydrology and Alternative Futuring. “In addition to being right out our back door and comprising large areas, these landscapes are particularly sensitive to variability and change in climate. Many of our researchers have well-established partnerships with federal researchers within the Department of Interior. This new consortium is an outstanding opportunity to highlight and extend those partnerships, as well as build new partnerships with other researchers within federal agencies and at consortium partner universities.”

The leadership team at Boise State represents a diverse set of disciplinary expertise and includes Flores (Geoscience), Nancy Glenn (Human-Environment Systems), Jim McNamara (Geosciences), Julie Heath (Biology), Marie-Anne de Graaff (Biology), and John Freemuth (Public Policy).

The center will be led by university director Amy Snover of the Climate Impacts Group in the UW College of the Environment. The Northwest CSC also will be a member organization of EarthLab, a new College of the Environment initiative. Snover will work closely with the U.S. Geological Survey center director, Gustavo Bisbal, and partners at each of the consortium universities.

The Northwest CSC is one of eight regional Climate Science Centers dedicated to delivering science that helps wildlife, water, land and people adapt to a changing climate. The national network also includes two new five-year host agreements to the Southeast Climate Science Center, based in North Carolina, and the Alaska Climate Science Center, based in Anchorage.

The CSCs are deeply rooted in federal-university partnerships. Each CSC is hosted by a public university, made up of a multi-institution consortium and managed by the USGS National Climate Change and Wildlife Science Center. These partnerships ensure access to a broad range of scientific expertise, production of high-quality science and sharing of funds, resources and facilities. University involvement also allows the CSCs to introduce students to the idea of “co-producing” science, in which scientists and decision-makers work closely together to ensure scientific research and products are usable and directly address real-world problems.

Over the past seven years, the previous university consortium established a robust partner network across the region and helped to define and refine the scope and goals of the Northwest CSC.

“We are excited to bring to the Northwest CSC the Climate Impacts Group’s model for co-producing decision-relevant science that can help sustain our region’s prized natural and cultural resources in an uncertain future,” Snover said. “Our new Northwest CSC consortium will focus on helping our region better understand the changes that lie ahead and develop sound resource management strategies in light of those changes.”

“We look forward to collaborating across the region to build on the CSC’s strong foundation,” Snover said.

While this announcement marks the beginning of a transition period for the center, its core mission — to provide services to regional resource managers in the form of climate adaptation science, syntheses, tools development, outreach efforts and training — remains the same. A Stakeholder Advisory Committee will continue to provide crucial input and guidance. The center’s annual Climate Boot Camp, which provides an opportunity for students and early career professionals to improve their climate science knowledge and skills, also will remain a priority.