Department of Interior and University of Alaska Dedicate Climate Science Center

By: Staff   Feb 25, 2011

Alaska Climate Center first of eight to open throughout the nation

ANCHORAGE, AK—The Department of the Interior held a ribbon-cutting ceremony today for its new Alaska Climate Science Center (CSC), which is being hosted in Anchorage by the University of Alaska Fairbanks.  The ceremony for the Alaska CSC marked the first official opening of one of eight regional climate science centers the department is establishing throughout the nation.

“Everyone here knows that Alaska is ‘ground zero’ in witnessing the impacts associated with climate change, with rapidly receding glaciers and a thawing permafrost having far-ranging effects on plants, animals, and humans alike,” said Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Water and Science Anne Castle.
Photo of ribbon cutting dedication of the Alaska Cllimate Science CenterIn addition to Assistant Secretary Castle, participating leaders included University of Alaska Chancellors Brian Rogers of the University of Alaska Fairbanks; Fran Ulmer of the University of Alaska Anchorage; and John Pugh of the University of Alaska Southeast; as well as U.S. Geological Survey Regional Executive Leslie Holland-Bartels and the interim director of the Alaska CSC, Mark Shasby of USGS.  

“The University of Alaska Fairbanks and the USGS have a long-established and strong working relationship, and we are committed to this new and important partnership in collaboration with the University of Alaska Anchorage and the University of Alaska Southeast,” said Chancellor Rogers. “The new Center builds on the strength of this foundation and creates an even stronger research partnership. The university’s function in this center will be to ‘Observe, Understand and Respond’ to provide significant specialization in Arctic terrestrial and marine ecosystems.”
“The University of Alaska system is a tremendous resource, and the CSC will leverage the work already being done at the university on the impacts of climate change to Arctic resources,” Castle said. ”The new Alaska CSC will be able to immediately tie into university resources, establish relationships with the university’s existing partners, and enhance the collaborations that are already ongoing among the university, the department and our agencies.”  

The CSCs will use existing capacities to provide scientific data, tools and techniques to manage the nation’s land, water, fish and wildlife, and cultural heritage in a changing climate. Each CSC will be a partnership between federal and state agencies and an academic institution or consortium of universities.  

The CSCs will also work closely with a network of “Landscape Conservation Cooperatives” (LCCs)  in which federal, state, tribal and other managers and scientists will develop conservation, adaptation and mitigation strategies for dealing with the impacts of various stressors such as climate change. The Arctic LCC, one of five Alaska LCCs that will be established, has already initiated funding of crucial projects through the university.
By working together with the National Climate Change and Wildlife Science Center, CSCs and LCCs will address climate change impacts that typically extend beyond the borders of any single national wildlife refuge, national park or Bureau of Land Management unit.
None of the CSCs or the LCCs is meant to replace existing partnerships, agencies or jurisdictions. Instead, they will tap into these partnerships and identify what gaps exist in the state of knowledge about how climate change and other landscape-scale stressors are affecting a region.  
The existing Alaska Climate Change Executive Roundtable, for example, will provide a crucial role in ensuring coordination and integration of activities among the new Alaska CSC and LCCs in Alaska as well as the activities of NOAA’s Climate Service for Alaska.  
In addition to the Alaska CSC, the Department of the Interior has already announced the Southeast Climate Science Center hosted by North Carolina State University; the Northwest Climate Science Center led by a consortium of three universities; the Southwest Climate Science Center with a large consortium including Univ. of Arizona-Tucson; and the North Central Climate Science Center with nine universities headed by Colorado State University.
Interior will invite proposals for the three remaining centers, which will be the Northeast, South Central and Pacific Islands Climate Science Centers.  The selection process will be posted on the week of Feb. 28.
For more information on the Climate Science Centers, visit the Department of the Interior website and see the USGS information sheet (PDF) on the National Climate Change and Wildlife Science Center.
For more information on LCCs in Alaska, see this FWS site for current brochure (PDF).