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NOAA Research grants to tackle changing coastal flooding, marine resources and drought highlighted by Universities across the US

Atlantic herring (above) have been underharvested two years in a row in the northeast region, potentially due to warming-driven distribution changes. Source: NOAA

Seven leading U.S. academic institutions recently released announcements about their new NOAA Research awards for cutting-edge projects to tackle coastal flooding, changing marine resources and drought. The releases highlight the importance of the federal funding, received from the NOAA Research Modeling, Analysis, Predictions, and Projections (MAPP) Program, for the universities and NOAA’s services advancement, as well as the potential significant societal and economic impacts of their new projects.

Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), the University of Washington, Stony Brook University, and the University of Hawaii released announcements about their new awards to enhance our Nation’s capacity to produce seasonal predictions of coastal high water levels and living marine resources. The new projects will help increase the resiliency of coastal communities and economies in the face of a changing climate.

WHOI’s announcement discussed how its scientists will lead a research team to develop a forecast system for predictions of seasonal and year to year changes in ocean temperatures on the Northeast U.S. Shelf.

“Changes in ocean temperature hugely impact the living organisms in coastal waters,” stated Young-Oh Kwon, lead investigator of the new project.

He explained that with current annual catch limits (set through stock assessments) typically based on fish biology alone, these changes create challenges to managing sustainable fisheries.

“An ability to reliably forecast the ocean temperature in coastal waters will benefit everyone in the coastal community, especially the fishing community through a significant improvement of the fisheries stock assessment,” said Kwon.

Michigan State University, Southern Illinois University, and Texas A&M University released announcements about their new funding to address gaps in the understanding, monitoring, and prediction of drought. The new projects will help improve our Nation’s ability to prepare for impacts on agriculture and drinking water supplies, infrastructure, health, ecosystems, and energy costs by advancing the National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS).

MSU’s Lifeng Luo is already running an experimental system to predict droughts on a weekly basis in the U.S. NOAA may eventually adopt the system in coordination with the U.S. Drought Monitor. Source: MSU

Lifeng Luo from Michigan State University (MSU) will lead a project to create a better system for predicting droughts, which cost roughly $9 billion in damages per year in the U.S. MSU stated that Luo will help develop a three-month completely automated outlook that would be released weekly to the public to provide more notice of potential droughts. In contrast, NOAA’s current three-month outlook relies partially on human judgement and is released once a month.

“That’s not frequent enough, especially when you consider flash droughts, which develop very quickly,” said Luo in the release.

Luo expressed confidence that his new system could improve our ability to combat droughts.

“This project will help advance the drought-prediction system and outlooks by NOAA,” he said. “It can help policymakers and stakeholders be better prepared for droughts and increase their resilience to drought events.”

These new projects were part of a broader NOAA Research Climate Program Office MAPP Program investment, which awarded $10.8 million in total funding over three years for 20 research projects targeting the needs of NOAA’s National Weather Service, National Marine Fisheries Service, National Ocean Service, and the National Drought Information System. In addition to advancing NOAA’s mission, the new awards support continued excellence in the U.S. scientific community, with support for 75 people including scientists, staff, postdocs, and graduate students.

Together, the new awards demonstrate NOAA’s commitment to enhancing society’s ability to plan for and respond to changing Earth system conditions conditions through improved products and services.

The new awards were made possible, in part, through partnerships with NOAA Fisheries’ Office of Science and Technology and the National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS).

To learn more about the 20 MAPP new funded projects, go to:

To view the university awards announcements, go to:

About MAPP
The Modeling, Analysis, Predictions, and Projections (MAPP) Program is a competitive research program in NOAA Research’s Climate Program Office. MAPP’s mission is to enhance the Nation’s and NOAA’s capability to understand, predict, and project variability and long-term changes in Earth’s system and mitigate human and economic impacts. To achieve its mission, MAPP supports foundational research, transition of research to applications, and engagement across other parts of NOAA, among partner agencies, and with the external research community. MAPP plays a crucial role in enabling national preparedness for extreme events like drought and longer-term climate changes. For more information, please visit

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