WWU to Partner with Dept. of the Interior, Four Regional Universities on New Northwest Climate Science Center

by John Thompson, Office of Communications and Marketing
Friday, August 11, 2017 - 9:25am

Western Washington University is one of five regional schools to partner with the U.S. Department of the Interior on its Northwest Climate Science Center; the University of Washington will host the center on its campus, and Boise State University, the University of Montana and Washington State University, along with WWU, are the member institutions in the consortium.

These five universities were selected as the CSC host and consortium partners after an open competition and extensive review by scientific experts. They will work as part of the collaborative network that defines the Northwest CSC. This includes working closely with federal, state and tribal entities, including those responsible for managing and protecting the land, water and natural resources of the Northwest, to develop actionable climate science and decision support tools.

Western’s efforts with the center will be led by John Rybczyk, professor of Environmental Science and current Environmental Science department chair. Rybczyk will serve on the center’s leadership team, and has been involved in the effort to being the center to the Pacific Northwest since its start.

“The Climate Science Center will provide opportunities for exciting and relevant research, collaboration, and funding for our students and their faculty advisors. There are quite a few faculty members, spread across several departments at Western, who already do highly applied climate-change research, and most of them include undergraduate and graduate students as part of their programs,” said Rybczyk.

“Additionally, we’ve recently partnered with Northwest Indian College to create pathways for graduate training in the geosciences for students earning a bachelor’s degree in their highly acclaimed Native Environmental Science program at the college,” he said.  “So the center will benefit these students as well.”

The Northwest CSC is one of eight regional Climate Science Centers dedicated to delivering science that helps wildlife, water, land and people adapt to a changing climate. The national network also includes two new five-year host agreements to the Southeast Climate Science Center, based at North Carolina State University, and the Alaska Climate Science Center, based at the University of Alaska at Anchorage.

The CSCs are deeply rooted in federal-university partnerships. Each CSC is hosted by a public university, composed of a multi-institution consortium and managed by the U.S. Geological Society’s National Climate Change and Wildlife Science Center. These partnerships ensure access to a broad range of scientific expertise, production of high-quality science and sharing of funds, resources and facilities. University involvement also allows the CSCs to introduce students to the idea of “co-producing” science, in which scientists and decision-makers work closely together to ensure scientific research and products are usable and directly address real-world problems.

For more information about Western’s role in the Northwest Climate Center, go to its website at https://www.nwclimatescience.org or contact John Rybczyk at john.rybczyk@wwu.edu.