This year, 2018, marks the 10-year anniversary of the establishment of the National Climate Change and Wildlife Science Center (NCCWSC). In those 10-years, the eight regional Climate Science Centers (CSCs) were established, and together, NCCWSC and the CSCs funded over 425 science projects and built a network of research partners, resource management stakeholders, interdisciplinary staff, fellows, and early career researchers.
In celebration of our work and accomplishments over the last 10 years, we are kicking off a monthly series featuring “10 Things You May Not Know” about different topics our science has focused on, including drought, glaciers, and wildfire. To get things started, here are 10 things you may not know about the NCCWSC and CSC network.
Partners & Stakeholders:Our network was built on partner and stakeholder input. In 2008 and 2009, a group of partners, including the Ecological Society of America, The Wildlife Society, and other state and federal agencies, tribal organizations, academia, and nongovernmental organizations came together to help define priorities for the structure, scope, and implementation of the NCCWSC and CSC network. Input from our partners continues today as a crucial part of our mission to provide useful scientific knowledge to decision makers.
University Hosts:The CSCs were officially established between 2010 and 2012 at eight universities across the U.S. After NCCWSC was established, 2008 and 2009 were filled with stakeholder engagement, strategic planning, initial funding of science projects, and planning for the competitions that would determine the first CSC host universities. In 2010, the Alaska, Southeast, and Northwest CSCs were established, followed by the North Central and Southwest CSCs in 2011. The last three CSCs, Northeast, South Central, and Pacific Islands, were set up in 2012.
Usable Science:We take an innovative approach to research, producing science that directly informs resource management decisions. A main goal of our program is to provide science that achieves "on-the-ground" impact. We work closely with natural and cultural resource managers, federal and state agencies, tribes, and other decision makers to ensure that our science and tools can directly inform their planning and adaptation needs.
Small Scale to Big Picture: Our science projects range in scale from the genetic level up to national-scale. Our funded projects focus on a variety of topics, ranging from understanding how genetic traits affect a species’ ability to adapt to changing environments, to examining the factors that impact migratory bird populations across the country. Many of our projects are on a regional-scale, answering questions that relate to ecosystems, coastlines, or landscapes that cross state boundaries.
Projects: Every year, we fund approximately 50 new science projects. Our research looks at how intense droughts, sea-level rise, extreme storms, and other consequences of climate change affect wildlife, ecosystems, and other important resources. Our projects involve researchers from public universities, Tribal communities, non-profits, USGS and other federal bureaus, and other partner institutions. Interested in submitting a proposal? Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date on funding opportunities or monitor our website.
Grand Challenge:In 2015, NCCWSC, the CSCs, and university partners undertook a “grand challenge” to understand the effects of drought on valued resources. This national-scale initiative is helping our scientists to identify what we know about the impacts of ecological drought across the country (the Knowns), where information is lacking (the Needs), and how managers can plan for these impacts and adapt to changing conditions in the future (the Solutions). Activities include the convening of an expert drought working group, regional workshops to synthesize information, webinars, and a number of science projects.
Science Communications: Communicating our science is crucial to achieving our mission. We’ve even won some awards for it! Earlier this year (January 2018), the Northeast CSC-funded interactive decision-support tool, Shifts in Fish Habitat Under Climate Change, won the prestigious USGS Shoemaker Award for Communications Excellence. In 2015, a poster by the Alaska CSC and partners depicting the linkages between glaciers and the ocean, From Icefield to Ocean, won a “Vizzie” award for excellence in science communication in an international competition cosponsored by Popular Science magazine and the National Science Foundation. Products like these provide important scientific information in an accessible and easy-to-understand manner to our stakeholders and partners.
Tribal & Indigenous Communities:We actively partner with Tribes and indigenous communities, and nearly all CSCs are now working with a Tribal Liaison. The CSCs are working with tribes and indigenous communities to help them understand and adapt to the impacts of climate change. This work includes research projects, training workshops, stakeholder meetings, and other activities. The CSCs are also working with the Bureau of Indian Affairs to place "Tribal Liaisons" at several of the CSCs to help identify the information needs of tribes and indigenous communities and work with partners to address those needs.
Students & Fellows: Every year, our network supports a large cohort of students and early career researchers. Our education and training opportunities include regional week-long “boot camps” and retreats that bring together students and early career professionals, summer-long internships for undergraduate students of underrepresented minorities, a national training to bring together students and fellows from across the U.S. and much more. The CSCs also support an online Early Career Climate Forum which provides a venue for communication, collaboration, and professional development.
Interdisciplinary Staff:The CSCs consist of USGS and university staff working side by side. The CSCs are made up of a mix of university and USGS staff from many different scientific disciplines, including both a federal-side director and a university-side director. Some CSCs even have staff from other partner organizations, like Tribes, and some CSCs share office spaces with other federal programs and bureaus. These unique partnerships provide for close, interdisciplinary scientific collaboration and allow USGS to leverage a wide range of scientific resources.
Symbols courtesy of the Integration and Application Network, University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science (ian.umces.edu/symbols/)