NOAA selects CU-Boulder to continue joint leadership of CIRES

By Staff

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has selected the University of Colorado Boulder to continue a federal/academic partnership that extends NOAA’s ability to study climate change, improve weather models and better predict how solar storms can disrupt communication and navigation technologies.

The selection means that NOAA will continue funding the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences, or CIRES, for at least five years and up to 10 more years. CIRES was established at CU-Boulder in 1967.

The amount of the award is contingent on the availability of funding in the federal budget, but NOAA anticipates that up to $32 million may be available annually. Total NOAA funding is variable from year to year and is based on the number of projects the university proposes and NOAA approves.

Following a competitive process, NOAA selected CU-Boulder to administer the CIRES partnership, which leverages university resources to expand understanding of the “Earth system” -- the interrelationships among the atmosphere, oceans, land, living things and the sun’s energy.

“Improving our understanding of the Earth system is critically important as the build-up of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is forcing changes in all of its processes,” said Robert Detrick, assistant administrator of the NOAA Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research and chairman of the NOAA Research Council. “The University of Colorado has been an excellent partner to NOAA in pursuing this mission.”

NOAA’s first cooperative institute, CIRES is marking its 45th anniversary this year and is now one of 18 NOAA cooperative institutes nationwide. NOAA competitively funds cooperative institutes at universities with strong research programs relevant to NOAA’s mission. These institutes provide resources and opportunities that extend beyond the agency’s own research capacity.

“Partnership in environmental research with the NOAA Boulder laboratories is the keystone of CIRES research,” said CIRES Interim Director William Lewis Jr. “We have great ambitions in joint research with NOAA over the next five years.”

The partnership allows researchers at CU-Boulder to receive support for research projects that may involve NOAA scientists, primarily at the Earth System Research Laboratory in Boulder as well as other NOAA cooperative institutes.

The CIRES partnership will focus on nine research themes:

  • Air quality in a changing environment
  • Climate forcing feedbacks and analysis
  • Earth systems dynamics, variability and change
  • Management and exploitation of geophysical data
  • Regional science and applications
  • Scientific outreach and education
  • Space weather understanding and predictability
  • Stratospheric processes and trends
  • Systems and prediction models development

“With pressing issues like air quality, climate change and space weather now at the forefront globally, the University of Colorado Boulder is eager to continue this crucial partnership with NOAA,” said CU-Boulder Vice Chancellor for Research Stein Sture. “CIRES is known around the world for advancing our understanding of the complex Earth system and as a premier institution in educating the next generation of environmental scientists.”

NOAA supports cooperative institutes to conduct research, education, training and outreach aligned with its mission. Cooperative institutes also promote the involvement of students and postdoctoral scientists in NOAA-funded research. This unique setting provides NOAA the benefit of working with the complementary capabilities of a research institution that contribute to NOAA-related sciences ranging from satellite climatology and fisheries biology to atmospheric chemistry and coastal ecology.

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