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OU awarded a $4.5 million grant for climate study

NORMAN, OKLA. – The University of Oklahoma was awarded a $4.5 million grant to apply cutting-edge science, data and tools in preparation for climate extremes such as droughts, floods and heat waves. The funding, which was made possible by a grant from the U.S. Geological Survey, allows the South Central Climate Adaptation Science Center to continue to operate on the OU Norman campus for the next five years.

Researchers at the Center support decision makers across Oklahoma, Texas, Louisiana and New Mexico better understand climate impacts and climate adaptation related to natural and cultural resource management.

“We have seen devastating wildfires, extraordinary drought conditions, extensive flooding and other climate-related disasters just in the past five years across our region,” says Renee McPherson, director of the South Central Climate Adaptation Science Center and OU associate professor of geography and environmental sustainability. “We know that the costs and damages of these disasters are rising. Now is the time to build resilience in our communities, water resources, coastal environments, forests and other landscapes. The Climate Adaptation Science Center gathers many of the top scientists in the south-central United States and targets their work on science that helps us combat these climate extremes.”

Since the Center’s establishment in 2012, the Center’s scientists have partnered with experts on a variety of research topics. For example, researchers mapped wildfire likelihood to assist fire managers in preparing for wildfire events. Others investigated the impacts of a changing climate on snowpack, streamflow, native wildlife or invasive plants to develop planning scenarios for managers.

Additionally, the Center has studied ways to effectively monitor soil moisture and drought conditions to help decision makers be proactive in extreme hot and dry conditions. By identifying how climate extremes are likely to affect the south-central United States in the coming decades, the science team can help resource managers build resilience in their national or state parks, wildlife refuges, tribes, communities or other jurisdictions.

The Center is one of eight regional centers funded by the USGS. Their collective mission is to “deliver science to help fish, wildlife, water, land and people adapt to a changing climate.” Center members include the University of Oklahoma (lead institution), Chickasaw Nation, Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, Texas Tech University, Louisiana State University, University of New Mexico and Oklahoma State University.

The Center also produces a series of short videos titled Managing for a Changing Climate through funding from the USGS, OU and the Oklahoma NASA Space Grant Consortium. The videos explain climate impact on ecosystems and various sectors of society, and techniques to help adapt to climate extremes.

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For further information about the Center, visit https://southcentralclimate.org/.

About the University of Oklahoma

Founded in 1890, the University of Oklahoma is a public research university located in Norman, Oklahoma. OU serves the educational, cultural, economic and health care needs of the state, region and nation. For more information visit http://www.ou.edu.

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