By Libby Casey
The University of Alaska will host a new federal regional center for climate change research. The Anchorage-based Climate Science Center is the first of eight to be set up throughout the country. They’re part of an Obama Administration plan to learn more about the effects and implications of global warming. Interior Department Deputy Secretary David Hayes says Alaska was a natural fit for the first center.
The climate change impacts are so pronounced in Alaska and there already is good collaborative science effort in Alaska, it’s going to meld very nicely with all the work we’re going on the ground with the state and with the communities, Native Alaskans, to take that information and work with it.
Hayes says the first step of adapting to climate change is collecting good science and insights. He says while the main center will be based at U-A-Anchorage, he expects the University of Alaska Fairbanks will also be involved.
Have a university based center that focuses on getting information about what the climate is doing to a particular region, and focusing on the interests of that region. So this is not an abstract, kind of academic exercise.
Hayes says land, water, and wildlife managers will feed information to the science center about what’s happening out in the field.
The idea is to have the science center be focused on bringing meaningful, region-specific information to communities and managers so that folks can make good decisions about how to react to those changes.
The Interior Department says the Anchorage site will be set up in the next six to eight weeks, and seven other offices will open soon after in other parts of the country. Officials say a budget for the Anchorage center has not yet been determined, and that some funding will come from the University of Alaska. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar signed an order last September calling for the Department’s first-ever coordinated strategy to address the impacts of climate change on America’s lands, water, wildlife, and cultural resources. In coming months the Department will also create a network of “Landscape Conservation Cooperatives” to craft practical strategies of adaptation.