Nelson study on winter severity among new research funded by Northeast Climate Science Center

December 18, 2014

Research led by Nelson Institute climate scientist Michael Notaro is among six new studies funded by the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Northeast Climate Science Center (NE CSC), it was announced today. The center is awarding nearly $700,000 to universities and other partners for research to guide managers of parks, refuges and other cultural and natural resources in planning how to help species and ecosystems adapt to climate change.

"These climate studies are designed to help address regional concerns associated with climate change, providing a pathway to enhancing resilience and supporting local community needs," said Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell. "The impacts of climate change are vast and complex, so studies like these are critical to help ensure that our nation's responses are rooted in sound science."

The six funded studies will focus on how climate change will affect natural resources and management actions that can be taken to help offset such change. Notaro, associate director of the Nelson Institute Center for Climatic Research, will examine projected changes in winter severity, snowpack and lake ice in the Great Lakes Basin over the coming 21st century and anticipated consequences for wildlife populations.

"The impacts of
climate change are
vast and complex,
so studies like these
are critical to help
ensure that our nation's
responses are rooted
in sound science."

Each of the Department of the Interior's eight Climate Science Centers (CSCs) worked with states, tribes, federal agencies, Landscape Conservation Cooperatives (LCCs), universities supporting the CSCs, and other regional partners to identify the highest priority management challenges in need of scientific input, and to solicit and select research projects.

The studies will be undertaken by teams of scientists from the universities, colleges and research labs that comprise the Northeast CSC, from USGS science centers and Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units, and from other partners such as the states, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, USDA Forest Service, Indian tribes, state fish and wildlife agencies, other DOI Bureaus, and the Landscape Conservation Cooperatives in each region.

The eight DOI Climate Science Centers form a national network, and are coordinated by the National Climate Change and Wildlife Science Center, located at the headquarters of Interior's U.S. Geological Survey. CSCs and LCCs have been created under Interior's strategy to address the impacts of climate change on America’s waters, land, and other natural and cultural resources. Together, Interior's CSCs and LCCs will assess the impacts of climate change and other landscape-scale stressors that typically extend beyond the borders of any single national wildlife refuge, national park or Bureau of Land Management unit and will identify strategies to ensure that resources across landscapes are resilient in the face of climate change.

The Northeast Climate Science Center is hosted by the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. The consortium is comprised of the College of Menominee Nation, Columbia University, the Marine Biological Laboratory, University of Minnesota, University of Missouri-Columbia, and University of Wisconsin-Madison. 

Lewis Gilbert, previously associate director of the Nelson Institute, now with the Institute on the Environment at the University of Minnesota, and William Karasov, chair of the Department of Forest and Wildlife Ecology, led the UW-Madison effort in 2011 to collaborate on the Northeast CSC. 

Wisconsin has been investigating the potential impacts of climate change since 2007 through the Wisconsin Initiative on Climate Change Impacts, a statewide project that grew out of a partnership between the Nelson Institute, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and other institutions and agencies.

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