The University of Oklahoma is Awarded $4.5 Million for Climate Study

A $4.5 million grant was given to the University of Oklahoma (OU) to study climate extremes such as droughts, floods, and heat waves

The multi-million-dollar grant given to OU in December of 2019 applies to cutting-edge science, data, and tools in preparation for climate extremes like droughts, floods, and heat waves, according to the University of Oklahoma.

The funding, made possible by a grant from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), allows the South Central Climate Adaptation Science Center to continue to operate on the OU Norman campus for the next five years. Researchers at the Center support experts from Oklahoma, Texas, Louisiana, and New Mexico to “better understand climate impacts and climate adaptation related to natural and cultural resource management.”

Experts from these areas have personal experiences with climate extremes themselves. Renee McPherson, director of the South Central Climate Adaptation Science Center and OU associate professor of geography and environmental sustainability, said:

“We have seen devastating wildfires, extraordinary drought conditions, extensive flooding and other climate-related disasters just in the past five years across our region. We know that the costs and damages of these disasters are rising. Now is the time to build resilience in our communities, water resources, coastal environments, forests and other landscapes. The Climate Adaptation Science Center gathers many of the top scientists in the south-central United States and targets their work on science that helps us combat these climate extremes.”

The Center, established in 2012, helps scientists partner with experts on a variety of topics. For example, researchers mapped wildfire likelihood to assist fire managers in preparing for wildfire events. Others researched the impacts of a changing climate on snowpack, streamflow, native wildlife or invasive plants to develop planning scenarios for managers.

Also, the Center has studied ways to effectively monitor soil moisture and drought conditions to help decision makers be proactive in extreme hot and dry conditions. The scientists hope that by identifying how climate extremes are likely to affect the south-central United States in the coming years and decades, they can help resource managers strengthen and fortify their national or state parks, wildlife refuges, tribes, communities, or other jurisdictions.

The USGS funds eight regional centers. The South Central Climate Adaptation Science Center’s members include the University of Oklahoma (lead institution), Chickasaw Nation, Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, Texas Tech University, Louisiana State University, University of New Mexico, and Oklahoma State University.

The Center’s series of short films titled Managing for a Changing Climate uses funding from the USGS, OU, and the Oklahoma NASA Space Grant Consortium to explain climate impact on ecosystems and various sectors of society, and techniques to help adapt to climate extremes.

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