NOAA gives $3.5 million to help two states address effects of climate change

Smaller grants given to encourage federal, state, local collaboration

January 16, 2013

Dry lake bed.

Dry lake bed.

Download here. (Credit: NOAA)

Arizona and New Mexico will receive $3.5 million in grants from NOAA over five years to help them prepare for and adapt to climate variability and change. Seven smaller grants for one- and two-year projects were also awarded this week.

The Regional Integrated Sciences and Assessments (RISA) funds will go toward projects such as helping New Mexico departments of health and environment to research whether dust levels in a changing climate will affect valley fever, a regional infectious pulmonary disease. The grants will also help drought agencies in both states incorporate climate information into their planning and implementation.

“The southwest United States has the fastest growing population in the nation, yet cities and tribal lands in Arizona and New Mexico are severely affected by drought. These projects will help people understand and make decisions to minimize the risks associated with changing water resources and other challenges posed by a changing climate,” said Richard D. Rosen, acting director of NOAA’s Climate Program Office. “NOAA's smaller awards focused on partnerships between RISA teams and other research and decision making institutions are a valuable mechanism for regional coordination." 

RISA, a program of the Climate Program Office within NOAA’s Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research, enables local-level interdisciplinary research needed to tackle big challenges such as impacts to water, food, infrastructure, and ecosystems. The program strengthens NOAA’s climate efforts by bringing academic and federal science and service communities together.

The RISA award in the southwest goes to the Climate Assessment for the Southwest (CLIMAS), a research consortium at the universities of Arizona and New Mexico. CLIMAS plans to advance long-standing collaborations with water utilities, state and local governments, land and wildlife managers, extension services, nongovernmental organizations, and the private sector. Its work addresses regional water sustainability, the intersection of climate and human health, economic tradeoffs and opportunities related to water, and socially vulnerable populations.

"The approach we've developed over our 14-year partnership with NOAA has been to work closely with the people of the southwest to identify and address research questions that are important to the region," said Daniel Ferguson, CLIMAS program director. "This approach ensures our work is timely and relevant for public and private sector stakeholders throughout the region so they have the best information available to make vital resource allocation and planning decisions."

NOAA also announced seven multi-year awards totalling $600,000 to existing RISA research teams to encourage collaboration with federal and non-federal partners on climate adaptation. Award funds for years two and beyond are subject to the availability of annual appropriations.

RISA teams are part of NOAA’s regional climate services partnerships, which include state climate offices and NOAA’s National Integrated Drought Information System, Regional Climate Service Directors, and Regional Climate Centers.  The seven new awards to RISA teams will help federal and non-federal partners better use climate information within their own structure.

These awards were coordinated with the interagency United States Global Change Research Program, which leads the US National Climate Assessment. For example, the Pacific Islands RISA will work with the Pacific Islands Department of the Interior Climate Science Center to map the flow of climate and water information throughout stakeholder networks in that region.

NOAA’s mission is to understand and predict changes in the Earth's environment, from the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun, and to conserve and manage our coastal and marine resources. Visit us at and join us on Facebook, Twitter and our other social media channels.