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Southwest Climate Resilience Center

Active Dates 9/1/2023-8/31/2026
Program Area Atmospheric System Research
Project Description
The Southwestern Mountains Climate Resilience Center (SMCRC) proposal is responsive to the identified needs by the DOE by focusing on the fundamental and applied research needs of regional populations in highlands of the southwestern United States through a targeted set of research and outreach activities that leverage and build on existing capabilities and partnerships while also developing new collaborative partnerships with DOE BER scientists. This region includes the highest density of Native American populations and Tribal lands in the US as well extensive rural populations with a high proportion of Hispanic residents. Northern Arizona University (NAU), the lead institution, is an R2 Hispanic-Serving Institution with high Indigenous student enrollment. The SMCRC´s objectives are to: (1) Integrate research tools in dynamics of forests, disturbances, climate, carbon, and hydrology that provide informative practical examples for climate-resilient management of public and Tribal lands, (2) Develop an outreach program for science translation reaching K-12 and adult populations through online materials and a network of Native-serving teachers. (3) Foster training and science translation of multidisciplinary climate scientists by building on links with a community college, Tribal college, the national-scale Institute for Tribal Environmental Professionals, and the Southwest Fire Science Consortium, and (4) Partner with DOE scientists on developing and communicating relevant science in two-way interactions with southwestern communities.

Under Objective 1, our research approach focuses on bringing together the diverse modeling approaches and results associated with future projections of forest attributes in southwestern mountains with the goal of providing detailed, practical information to both resource managers and model developers. The research design involves literature review, interaction with managers and researchers, quantitative comparison of outputs from multiple models, and new measurements of key variables that are common amongst these models. These approaches are directly relevant to ongoing and planned work by National Laboratory scientists examining decadal trends in remotely-sensed proxies for forest health. Under Objectives 2 and 3, the SMCRC team will develop and present materials related to climate change in a culturally responsive framework, drawing upon existing educational networks for K-12 Native-Service Educators and Tribal and Hispanic-Serving colleges (Diné College, Coconino Community College). We will also develop appropriate technical materials for professional audiences including Tribal and other natural resource managers across multiple disciplines such as forestry, wildlife, hydrology, and fire in partnership with organizations such as the Southwest Fire Science Consortium and Institute for Tribal Environmental Professionals. Under Objective 4, scientists with DOE´s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) will work with the NAU team and stakeholder groups identified by NAU to promote transferability of novel methodological approaches to advance resiliency research and planning in the SMCRC. These partnership activities are explicitly designed to integrate, communicate, share, and learn. We see the CRC as a unique opportunity to integrate research with real-world concerns of managers and communities. This provides a conduit of communication between DOE research and the communities it ultimately wishes to serve, fulfills the university´s role of learning and sharing, and provides benefits to Tribes and other stakeholders.
Award Recipient(s)
  • Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff (PI: Fule, Peter)