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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

UA leads climate research

The UA will be the lead university of the U.S. Department of Interior’s Southwest Climate Science Center.

The center will develop strategies and solutions for climate change and work to connect science with public policy makers.

“”It was a competitive process,”” said Rep. Raul Grijalva on the decision process that went into selecting the UA. Grijalva gave the announcement to a packed crowd in the Student Union Memorial Center on Wednesday.

The Southwest Climate Science Center is a consortium made up of six other schools with UA acting as the central hub.

This is the fourth regional climate science center created by the department, and they plan to establish four others.

Jonathan Overpeck, co-director for the UA’s Institute of the Environment, will lead the center.

They have a $3 million grant to set up the structure of the center with more funding to follow, according to Overpeck.

The center will look at climate change in relation to science as well as communication, the social sciences and public policy.

“”It’s going to cut across all the colleges … we’re all going to have a role to play,”” Overpeck said. “”It’s all about usable knowledge and that’s what we want to produce, not prescriptions of how to deal with problems. We’re not telling anyone how to do it — but to give decision makers choices.””

UA Biosphere 2 Director Travis Huxman is excited about the UA’s opportunity to make an impact on how science is done.

“”We’re accelerating the production of usable science to impact the way people make management decisions about our land resources,”” Huxman said. “”Primarily, I’m excited for us because its an opportunity for us to really create these new scientists that are going to wear all of these wonderful hats that really have an impact on society.””

Both the UA and the U.S. Department of Interior will benefit from the partnership.

“”The kinds of things that they (the U.S. Department of Interior) get out of it are great collaborators and research … this is the world capital for climate change research, we think. And they also get access to our wonderful graduate students and they are able to train them and they can assume careers sometimes with the federal agencies but often times in other positions,”” said Charles Hutchinson, director of the UA School of Natural Resources and the Environment.

Hutchinson said the UA also gets great research collaborators from the project, noting that walking through a hallway you can’t tell the difference between a federal scientist and a university scientist.

Hutchinson also said students take part in research opportunities they would not normally have access to and are able to be mentored by the federal scientists.

Overpeck said that by being on the front lines of climate change, they hope to develop strategies and technologies that will create “”a whole new economic engine for our region and our state in particular.””

“”It (climate change) is real, it is upon us and the University of Arizona will be leading the remediation, the adaptation strategy and the mitigation strategy that will be part of what we will need to do not only to cope with the issue but survive the issue and more importantly plan around the issue,”” Grijalva said.v

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