NOAA Selects UW To Host Institute For Climate, Ocean, Ecosystem Research, Will Partner With UAF, OSU; $300 Million Over 5 Years

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration this week announced it has selected the University of Washington to host NOAA’s Cooperative Institute for Climate, Ocean, and Ecosystem Studies.

The purpose of the cooperative institute is conduct collaborative, multidisciplinary research and educate the citizenry of the Pacific Northwest, Alaska, and the nation about human-caused impacts on ecosystem health and socioeconomic sustainability.

“We are pleased to announce that the University of Washington will host our new Cooperative  Institute for Climate, Ocean and Ecosystem Studies,” said Craig McLean, assistant NOAA administrator for Oceanic and Atmospheric Research. “This institute will help NOAA achieve our mission to better the ocean and atmosphere, which depends on research, data and information to make sound decisions for healthy ecosystems, communities and a strong blue economy.”

The selection comes with an award of up to $300 million over the course of five years, with the potential for renewal for another five years based on successful performance. NOAA selected the University of Washington after an open, competitive evaluation.

CICOES will be a research institute and regional consortium. CICOES scientists will work alongside scientists at NOAA’s Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory, NOAA Fisheries Alaska Fisheries Science Center and Northwest Fisheries Science Center, all in Seattle. The regional consortium will include affiliated faculty and staff at UW, the University of Alaska Fairbanks and Oregon State University, who will contribute expertise, research capacity, technological development, and help train the next-generation of NOAA scientists, and conduct public education and outreach.

The new cooperative institute will address some of the major research themes that have been the focus of NOAA’s previous cooperative institute hosted by UW, the Joint Institute for the Study of the Atmosphere and Ocean, including climate and ocean changes and impacts, and will expand to include new research areas and involve additional universities.

“Increasingly, our scientific challenges require novel collaborations that span regional-to-global scales and include the human dimension,” said Roberta Marinelli, dean of Oregon State University’s College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences.  “This new institute will provide a wealth of expertise and innovation to advance the science that underpins NOAA’s mission.”

At Oregon State, scientists from the colleges of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences; Engineering; Science; and Agricultural Sciences will collaborate with scientists at UW and UAF as well as NOAA.

The institute will focus on nine research themes: climate and ocean variability, change and impacts; earth systems and processes; environmental chemistry and ocean carbon; marine ecosystem observations, analysis and forecasts; ocean and coastal observations; environmental data science; aquaculture science; human dimensions in marine systems; and polar studies.

Oregon State offers considerable expertise in ocean and climate science, polar regions and coastal resilience, Marinelli said.

Melanie Fewings, an associate professor in the College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences, said the institute will strengthen OSU’s connections with other research institutions in the northeast Pacific.

“The ocean and atmosphere drive important changes in fisheries, coasts and communities,” Fewings said. “We are working to understand what controls the speed and size of those changes, including marine heat waves like in 2014-15 and 2019 and the impacts on fisheries and coastal economies.”

Associate Professor Justin Wettstein, also of OSU’s College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences, added: “This new institute brings together researchers with expertise in atmosphere-ocean connections that reach from the equator to the poles.”

The institute will be led by the University of Washington but housed jointly with OSU and the University of Alaska, Fairbanks’ International Arctic Research Center. John K. Horne, a professor in the UW Department of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences, will serve as executive director.

“Research collaborations among NOAA, UW, UAF and OSU have a long history of in the Pacific Northwest and Alaska and we anticipate that the CI will expand further expand research, education and public engagement activities in this region,” Horne said.

Oregon State also partners with NOAA on the Cooperative Institute for Marine Resources Studies, or CIMRS, which has been housed at Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport since 1982.

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