NOAA selects University of Colorado-Boulder to lead Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences

August 30, 2012

University of Colorado Boulder.

The University of Colorado Boulder has received a NOAA award to continue the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES), pictured here on the university campus, for at least five more years. CIRES research helps improve our knowledge of climate change, improve weather models, and better predict how solar storms can disrupt communication and navigation technologies.

High resolution (Credit:CIRES/University of Colorado.)

NOAA has selected the University of Colorado-Boulder to continue a federal/academic partnership that extends NOAA’s ability to study climate change, improve weather models, and better predict how solar storms can disrupt communication and navigation technologies.

The selection means that NOAA will continue funding the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES), which was established at the University of Colorado in 1967, for at least five and up to 10 more years.

The amount of the award is contingent on the availability of funding in the federal budget, but NOAA anticipates that up to $32 million may be available annually. Total NOAA funding is variable from year to year and is based on the number of projects the university proposes and NOAA approves.

Following a competitive process, NOAA selected the University of Colorado to administer the CIRES partnership which leverages university resources to expand understanding of the Earth system—the interrelationships between the atmosphere, oceans, land, living things, and the sun’s energy.

“Improving our understanding of the Earth system is critically important as the build up of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is forcing changes in all of its processes,” said Robert Detrick, Ph.D., assistant NOAA administrator for the Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research and     chairman of the NOAA Research Council. “The University of Colorado has been an excellent partner to NOAA in pursuing this mission.”

NOAA’s first cooperative institute, CIRES is marking its 45th anniversary this year and is now one of 18 NOAA cooperative institutes nationwide. NOAA competitively funds cooperative institutes at universities with strong research programs relevant to NOAA’s mission. These institutes provide resources and opportunities that extend beyond the agency’s own research capacity.

“With pressing issues like air quality, climate change and space weather now at the forefront globally, the University of Colorado Boulder is eager to continue this crucial partnership with NOAA,” said University of Colorado Boulder Vice Chancellor for Research Stein Sture. “CIRES is known around the world for advancing our understanding of the complex Earth system and as a premier institution in educating the next generation of environmental scientists.”

The partnership allows researchers at the University of Colorado to receive support for research projects that may involve NOAA scientists, primarily at the Earth System Research Laboratory in Boulder, Colo., as well as other NOAA cooperative institutes.

The CIRES partnership will focus on nine research themes:

NOAA supports cooperative institutes to conduct research, education, training, and outreach aligned with its mission. Cooperative institutes also promote the involvement of students and post-doctoral scientists in NOAA-funded research. This unique setting provides NOAA the benefit of working with complimentary capabilities of a research institution that contribute to NOAA-related sciences ranging from satellite climatology and fisheries biology to atmospheric chemistry and coastal ecology. For more information, visit

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