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NOAA’s Climate Program Office awards $48M to advance climate research, improve community resilience


The Climate Program Office (CPO), a part of NOAA’s Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research (OAR), has awarded 53 new projects conducted by NOAA laboratories and operational centers, universities, and other agency and research partners valued at more than $48 million over the 1-5 year duration of the projects.* These projects are designed to help advance the understanding, modeling, and prediction of Earth’s climate system and to foster effective decision making. 

Research results are expected to have impacts far beyond individual projects and funding programs.  Some  anticipated results include more accurate forecasts, early warning hazards of drought, more robust decision support services, enhanced community and drought preparedness, and improved ability to respond and adapt to public health impacts.

The $48 million will be distributed over the life of the 53 projects, many of which are multi-year.  All awards were selected via an open, highly-competitive process. With these new awards, CPO expands the breadth and scope of NOAA’s climate research, products, and services, and offers opportunities for collaboration within and integration between programs key to advance NOAA’s mission.

“Every day, communities and businesses in the U.S. and around world are grappling with environmental challenges due to changing climate conditions and extreme events,” said Wayne Higgins, director of the Climate Program Office. “People want timely and relevant scientific information about where and why climate variability and change occur and what impacts that has on human and natural systems. CPO’s competitive grants play a vital role in advancing understanding of Earth’s climate system and in transitioning our data, tools, information, and operations to applications the public can use to improve decision making.”

CPO manages competitive research programs which fund climate science, assessments, decision support research, modeling improvements, transition of research and capacity-building activities in four complementary and important areas: observations and monitoring; process understanding and analysis; modeling, predictions, and projections; and societal interactions. While each program area has its own focus, together they demonstrate NOAA’s commitment to advancing integrated climate research and enhancing society’s ability to plan and respond to climate variability and climate change in support of NOAA’s mission. CPO’s network of partners, specialists, and PIs will broadly integrate and transition research findings from these projects into applications  to help build resilience in the face of climate challenges.  

In FY 2015, CPO awarded new projects through its four major focus areas:

To provide high-quality, long-term global observations, climate information, and products, the NOAA Climate Observations and Monitoring (COM) Division has awarded grants in two areas:

  • The Climate Monitoring program awarded $855,734 in grants to two new three-year projects to produce observation-based global and (preferably) regional indices that facilitate monitoring the status, trends, extremes, and variability of ocean physical properties for the benefit of research, predictions, and decision makers. The two new projects join 13 multi-year projects totaling $2.2 million, which were funded last year in the same competition.  View the COM Division’s announcement.
  • The Climate Observations and Monitoring Division’s Arctic Research Program competitively funded three new five-year projects totaling $4.2 million.  These three projects, supported through inter-agency and international contributions, will continue key observations of the Pacific Arctic ocean environment that address causes and impacts of sea ice loss on the Pacific Arctic Ocean and its ecosystem.  View the Arctic Research Program announcement.

In an effort to improve critical forecasts in the Arctic, predictions spanning the weather-climate continuum, and the representation of chemical cycles in Earth System Models, Earth System Science (ESS) funded 14 new projects in FY15 through its two programs—Climate Variability & Predictability (CVP) and Atmospheric, Chemistry, Carbon Cycle, & Climate (AC4). In FY15:

  • The CVP program competitively funded two new three-year projects totaling $2.4 million in grants and $598,000 in other awards (for a total of $3 million) to support 20 researchers, postdocs, and students at 10 institutions. These projects represent a collaboration between academia and NOAA to improve NOAA’s state-of-the-art global climate model as well as the Coupled Forecast System operational model by enhancing their ability to realistically represent of the Madden-Julian Oscillation.  View the CVP announcement.
  • The CVP program also competitively funded 11 new three-year projects totaling $4.6 million in grants and $1.2 million in other awards (for a total of $5.8 million) to support 38 researchers, postdocs and students at 15 institutions. These projects will advance understanding of sea ice, and will improve NOAA’s ability to forecast changes to the Arctic in the future. View the CVP announcement.
  • The AC4 program funded one new multi-institutional award totaling $1.5 million, consisting of $400,000 in grants to universities, $974,874 in other awards to universities and $95,000 in internal funding.  This funded research will focus on improving the representation of the nitrogen cycle in Earth System Models. Modeling and model development is crucial to NOAA’s mission to respond to the societal needs to better predict and project future climate change. View the AC4 announcement.

To improve Earth System Models, predictions, and their societal applications such as for the prediction 
of drought and other extremes, the Modeling, Analysis, Predictions, and Projections (MAPP) program selected 19 new projects via three distinct competitions for a total funding of roughly $8.4 million over the duration of the projects.

  • Nine new one-year projects involving $545,427 in grants and $82,000 in other awards (for a total of $627,427) were selected to evaluate and develop new applications for the North American Multi-Model Ensemble System (NMME), a state-of-the-art multi-model seasonal prediction system. View the MAPP NMME announcement.
  • Nine new three-year projects involving $3.9 million in grants and $922,790 in other awards (for a total of about $4.8 million) were selected to advance next-generation climate and Earth System Models through the development of process-oriented metrics. View the MAPP process-oriented metrics announcement.
  • One major new three-year project involving roughly $2.8 million in grants and $249,728 in other awards (for a total of about $3 million) were selected to help advance a common software infrastructure for NOAA weather and climate models.  View the MAPP software infrastructure announcement.

To help provide leadership and support for research, assessments and climate services development activities designed to bring sound, interdisciplinary science to bear on climate sensitive resource management and adaptation challenges in key sectors and regions, the Climate and Societal Interactions (CSI) division held four competitions in FY15 and funded 15 new awards totaling $24.4 million. In FY15:

  • The Coastal and Ocean Climate Applications (COCA) program competitively selected four major two-year projects totaling $1.1 million in grants. These four projects will conduct interdisciplinary research that improves our ability to respond and adapt to public health impacts related to changes in coastal ecosystems (or ecosystem changes in the coastal zone).  View the COCA announcement.
  • The Regional Integrated Sciences & Assessments (RISA) program competitively awarded $19.5 million over five years to five research institutions from Honolulu to New York City to improve the ability of those seeking to prepare for and adapt to climate variability and change. These new RISA teams will join the robust and valuable RISA network across the U.S.  View the RISA announcement.
  • The Sectoral Applications Research Program (SARP), in support of the National Integrated Drought information System (NIDIS), is funding a new Drought Risk Management Research Center (DRMARC).  Three years of funding for this Center, totaling $2.4 million, will enhance the capabilities of NIDIS to work directly with states to plan for drought.  View the DRMARC announcement.
  • The Sectoral Applications Research Program (SARP) did not hold a competition in 2015 due to severe budget cuts. However, the SARP funding received via NIDIS to support the Coping with Drought initiative, along with a small contribution from SARP general funds will be used to fund five top-rated proposals saved from the 2014 competitions. Spread over two years, these five proposals total $1.3 million. View the SARP announcement.

To learn more about the Climate Program Office’s funding opportunities, visit:

*At the time of publication, some institutions have yet to officially accept grants. Future year funding conditional on appropriation of funds.

Situated within NOAA’s Oceanic and Atmospheric Research (OAR), based in Silver Spring, Md, the Climate Program Office advances scientific understanding, monitoring, and prediction of climate and its impacts to enable effective decisions. CPO envisions a resilient nation and world in which people, businesses, and the environment thrive in the face of climate-related changes.

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