NOAA extends CU’s Western Water Assessment funding with $4M commitment

BOULDER – The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced on Thursday that it has agreed to fund the University of Colorado Boulder-based Western Water Assessment for another five years with about $4 million.

WWA, which is part of the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences at the University of Colorado, has been funded by NOAA’s Climate Program Office since 1999. WWA is one of 10 teams operating under NOAA’s Regional Integrated Sciences & Assessments program that is aimed at expanding the country’s ability to deal with climate change by engaging scientists and local stakeholders as research partners.

Recent work by WWA, which focuses on Colorado, Wyoming and Utah, has included a report examining how climate change in Colorado affects water resources, as well as a study on the state’s vulnerabilities to climate change in industries like tourism, recreation and other sectors. The goal is to help arm land managers, water managers and other officials with the information they need to develop effective policies.

The new round of funding, WWA officials said in a press release, will be aimed at three main research areas: to examine how the science developed by WWA and other research entities can be made more useful to decision-making; to examine how Colorado, Wyoming and Utah are vulnerable to climate change and how to design adaptive systems to deal with the issue; and to extend work looking at the 2013 floods in Colorado to better understand extreme weather and climate events and use that information to inform future decisions.

“Every day, communities and businesses in the U.S. and around the world are grappling with environmental challenges due to changing climate conditions and extreme events,” Wayne Higgins, director of the NOAA Climate Program Office, said in a press release. “People want timely and relevant information about where and why climate is changing, and what impacts that has on human and natural systems. CPO’s competitive grants play a vital role in advancing understanding of Earth’s climate system and in transitioning our data, tools, information, and operations to applications the public can use to improve decision making.”