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Fact Sheet 2012-3048

DOI Climate Science Centers—
Regional Science To Address Management Priorities

By Robin O’Malley

Our Nation’s lands, waters, and ecosystems and the living and cultural resources they contain face myriad challenges from invasive species, the effects of changing land and water use, habitat fragmentation and degradation, and other influences. These challenges are compounded by increasing influences from a changing climate—higher temperatures, increasing droughts, floods, and wildfires, and overall increasing variability in weather and climate.

The Department of the Interior (DOI) has established eight regional Climate Science Centers (CSC) (fig. 1) that will provide scientific information and tools to natural and cultural resource managers as they plan for conserving these resources in a changing world. The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) National Climate Change and Wildlife Science Center (NCCWSC) is managing the CSCs on behalf of the DOI.

The Right Science in the Right Place

Climate Science Centers will do research to determine the impacts of climate change on key natural and cultural resources in their regions. CSC scientists will

  • predict how fish, wildlife, habitats, water, cultural, and other resources will change in response to climate change;
  • assess the vulnerability of these resources to climate change;
  • link projections of climate change (such as expected alterations in temperature and precipitation) with models that predict how climate will affect resources;
  • work with partners to develop standardized approaches to monitoring and link existing monitoring efforts to models of climate and resource response; and
  • ensure that data generated at NCCWSC and the CSCs are shared and can be combined with other data sets.


Figure 1. Locations of the U.S. Geological Survey National Climate Change and Wildlife Science Center (NCCWSC) and Department of the Interior (DOI) Climate Science Center (CSC) lead institutions and consortia partners.


Frio River near Concan, Texas. Photograph taken by Erin Sewell, U.S. Geological Survey.

Natural and cultural resource managers will identify CSC science priorities. DOI Landscape Conservation Cooperatives are primary sources of science needs, along with other management entities and stakeholders in a CSC region. In turn, the scientists undertaking the research will work cooperatively with those managers who identified results that can be applied directly to real-world problems. CSCs also will disseminate the information gleaned from their research and assist in ensuring effective management and dissemination of the large amounts of data needed for regional climate science. Finally, CSCs will provide access, information, and guidance for using “downscaled” or localized projections of future climatic conditions. The National Climate Change and Wildlife Science Center can assist and foster partnerships with agencies such as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to provide services across multiple regions.

CSCs will be able to access a wide range of scientific capabilities, through the network of university partners (fig. 1), as well as through other USGS and Federal agency scientists. This leveraging of capabilities will ensure effective and efficient use of public funds.

Partners in Conservation: Climate Science Centers, Landscape Conservation Cooperatives, and Regional Stakeholders

Landscape Conservation Cooperatives (LCCs) are critical partners of CSCs and will help define the regional priorities of each CSC. LCCs are partnerships consisting of natural and cultural resource managers, from Federal, state, tribal, and other entities whose mandate is to work collectively to identify key resource issues and provide information and other support for integrated, landscape-scale conservation planning.

While CSCs specialize in providing the fundamental science to support decision-making, LCCs apply that science to specific management challenges.

CSCs and LCCs ensure strong communications between scientists and managers, and enable the creation of the necessary regional scale science to address climate change challenges. Through both formal committees and informal networking, CSCs and LCCs will expand the cross-agency, Federal-state, and public-private dialogue needed to respond effectively to these challenges.

In addition to the strong ties with LCCs, CSCs will seek input from a wide variety of regional partners. Each CSC will convene a Stakeholder Advisory Committee with representation from Federal, state, and tribal management agencies, in addition to formal membership from each LCC in the region. These advisory committees will include regional representation from agencies with scientific assets relevant to LCC and CSC science needs, such as NOAA and the Department of Agriculture’s U.S. Forest Service, Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and Agricultural Research Service (ARS). Stakeholder Advisory Committees will provide a forum for the development of regional science priorities derived from individual LCC and management agency needs, and for coordination among science providers to address regional priorities. Coordination across CSC regions will ensure that issues are addressed on an ecological basis, and are not limited by regional or administrative boundaries.

Climate Science Center Locations, Partners, and Key Personnel


Photograph taken by Ed Josberger, U.S. Geological Survey

Alaska Climate Science Center
USGS Director: Dr. Steven Gray
University Principal Investigator (PI): Dr. Scott Rupp

Host: University of Alaska Fairbanks (in Anchorage)


Photograph taken Brian Tangen, U.S. Geological Survey

North Central Climate Science Center
USGS Director: Dr. Jeffrey Morisette
University PI: Dr. Dennis Ojima, Colorado State University

Host: Colorado State University, with University of
Colorado, Colorado School of Mines, Iowa State University,
University of Montana, University of Nebraska – Lincoln,
Kansas State University, Montana State University, and
University of Wyoming


Photograph taken by John Tracey, U.S. Geological Survey

Northeast Climate Science Center
USGS Director: To be determined
University PI: Dr. Richard Palmer

Host: University of Massachusetts, with
College of Menominee Nation, Columbia University,
Marine Biological Laboratory, University of Minnesota,
University of Missouri – Columbia, and
University of Wisconsin – Madison


Photograph taken by U.S. Geological Survey

Northwest Climate Science Center
USGS Director: Dr. Gustavo Bisbal
University PI: Dr. Phil Mote, Oregon State University

Host: Oregon State University, with
University of Washington, and University of Idaho


Photograph taken by Melissa Roth, U.S. Geological Survey

Pacific Islands Climate Science Center
USGS Director: To be determined
University PI: Dr. Kevin Hamilton

Host: University of Hawaii – Manoa, with
University of Hawaii – Hilo, University of Guam


Photograph taken by U.S. Geological Survey

South Central Climate Science Center
USGS Director: To be determined
University PI: Dr. Berrien Moore

Host: University of Oklahoma, with Texas Tech University,
Louisiana State University, The Chickasaw Nation,
The Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, Oklahoma State
University, and National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Administration’s Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory


Photograph taken by U.S. Geological Survey

Southeast Climate Science Center
USGS Director: Dr. Gerard McMahon
University PI: Dr. Damian Shea

Host: North Carolina State University


Photograph taken by Kristin Pitts, U.S. Geological Survey

Southwest Climate Science Center
USGS Director: To be determined
University PI: Dr. Jonathan Overpeck, University of Arizona

Host: University of Arizona, with University of Colorado,
University of California – Davis,
University of California – Los Angeles,
Desert Research Institute, and Scripps Institute of Oceanography


Bald eagle chicks. Photograph taken by Dave Menke,
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

First posted April 6, 2012

For additional information contact:
National Climate Change and Wildlife Science Center
U.S. Geological Survey
12201 Sunrise Valley Drive
Reston, VA 20192

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Suggested Citation:

O’Malley, Robin, 2012, DOI Climate Science Centers—Regional science to address management priorities: U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet 2012-3048, 4 p.

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