UA Climate Adaptation Science Center Receives $4.5M for Continued Research

Oct. 29, 2018

UA Climate Adaptation Science Center Receives $4.5M for Continued Research

TUCSON, Ariz. — The Southwest Climate Adaptation Science Center at the University of Arizona has received a five-year, $4.5 million grant from the United States Geological Survey to renew support for the center's research on climate science and adaption throughout the region.

The SW CASC – formerly called the Southwest Climate Science Center – was established in 2011 to provide objective scientific information, tools and techniques that land, water, wildlife and cultural resource managers and other interested parties could apply to anticipate, monitor and adapt to climate change impacts in the southwestern United States.

With the renewal funding, the SW CASC will build on its almost seven years of collaborative research and outreach in partnership with the United States Geological Survey, or USGS, to understand and help meet the region's highest priority scientific needs.

"The work that the scientists at the center are doing dovetails with one of the primary strengths of the UA: leading the way in the development of practices that promote environmental resilience," said UA President Robert C. Robbins. "Their focus on doing truly collaborative research alongside resource managers ensures the work will continue to be timely, relevant and useful. Translating the research of UA faculty members is incredibly important for our mission and impact, and this is an outstanding example of that focus."

SW CASC researchers aim to produce new scientific information for decision makers and managers to help them make informed planning decisions, including about the allocation of resources.

"We want to deliver science in ways that they can use it, that's actionable," said Gregg Garfin, UA principal investigator and university director of the SW CASC. "Research shows that an engaged process of researchers coproducing science alongside practitioners leads to more satisfaction with outcomes and more useable information."

Partnering institutions include the University of California, Los Angeles, the University of California, Davis, Colorado State University, Utah State University, the Desert Research Institute, and Scripps Institute of Oceanography.

"We go beyond the routine of academic research, where the goal is to advance knowledge by publishing peer-reviewed papers," said Stephen Jackson, USGS director of the SW CASC and adjunct professor of geosciences and natural resources and environment at the UA. "I like to call what we do 'research plus,' because we do that, plus create various products that are directly useful to managers."

Researchers at the SW CASC are also working to expand their scholarly expertise and explore new, emerging topics of concern.

"One area of concern that's emerging very quickly is vegetation conversion," Jackson said.

Vegetation conversion is the theory that after events that cause widespread death, such as wildfires and pathogen outbreaks, species new to the landscape appear. For example, after a wildfire, a ponderosa pine forest in northern Arizona might very well become an oak or Pinyon-juniper woodland.

The center will also continue its research on drought, flood risk as unusual rainfall extremes increase in frequency, and the steady increase in summer and winter temperatures that underlie these trends.

"The entire world is going to be and already is facing impacts of climate change. But in the Southwest, we're seeing it faster and more intensely," Jackson said. "Seeing this first puts us in a good position to tell people in other parts of the country what challenges might be coming to them and pass along information about how to adapt."


Researcher contact:
Gregg Garfin
UA School of Natural Resources and the Environment

Media contact:
Emily Litvack
UA Office of Research, Discovery & Innovation

Established in 1885, the University of Arizona, the state's super land-grant university with two medical schools, produces graduates who are real-world ready through its 100% Engagement initiative. Recognized as a global leader and ranked 16th for the employability of its graduates, the UA is also a leader in research, bringing more than $606 million in research investment each year, and ranking 21st among all public universities. The UA is advancing the frontiers of interdisciplinary scholarship and entrepreneurial partnerships, and is a member of the Association of American Universities, the 62 leading public and private research universities. It benefits the state with an estimated economic impact of $8.3 billion annually.