Cantwell, Kilmer Applaud Selection of University of Washington to Lead New Ocean, Climate Research Institute

University of Washington selected to lead new Cooperative Institute for Climate, Ocean, and Ecosystem Studies; Selection comes with $300 million commitment over the next five years - nearly triple last NOAA Cooperative Institute award to UW

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA), the Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, and U.S. Representative Derek Kilmer (D, WA-06) today applauded the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) selection of the University of Washington to lead a new Cooperative Institute for Climate, Ocean, and Ecosystem Studies (CICOES). The selection comes with a $300 million commitment from NOAA over the next five years to fund climate and oceans research by UW scientists.

“This is a big win for the University of Washington,” Senator Cantwell said. “Since 1977, the UW has known what we all know now: that a healthy environment supports a robust ocean economy. Now, at a time when research dollars are critical, NOAA is nearly tripling its investment in the world-class ocean science conducted at the UW. The new Cooperative Institute for Climate, Ocean, and Ecosystem Studies will expand on the UW’s legacy of success by conducting new research into the impacts of climate and ocean variability, environmental chemistry and ocean carbon, and changing marine ecosystems.”

“The selection of UW to lead NOAA’s new Cooperative Institute for Climate, Ocean, and Ecosystem Studies (CICOES) is great news for our region as we work to combat climate change,” Representative Kilmer said. “With our communities on the front lines of the climate crisis, having more federal dollars invested in Washington state and more expertise at our research institutions will help our entire region take steps to mitigate the impacts, build more resilient communities, and continue to lead the way.”

The cooperative institute will conduct and facilitate collaborative, multidisciplinary research supporting NOAA’s mission, educate and prepare the next generation of scientists to be technically skilled, environmentally literate, and reflect national diversity, and engage and educate the citizenry of the Pacific Northwest, Alaska, and the world. It seeks to increase understanding of natural and anthropogenic impacts on ecosystem health and socioeconomic sustainability. The research will include:

  • Climate and Ocean Variability;
  • Change and Impacts;
  • Environmental Chemistry, such as Ocean Acidification and Ocean Carbon;
  • Observation, Analysis, and Forecasts of Marine Ecosystems;
  • Ocean and Coastal Observations;
  • Human Dimensions in Marine Systems;
  • Polar Studies and Arctic Research.

The University of Washington also led NOAA’s previous cooperative research institute – the Joint Institute for the Study of Atmosphere and Ocean (JISAO), which came with a $110 million commitment over five years. Accomplishments of JISAO include:

  • Instrumental in identifying processes and biological impacts of marine heat waves, named the “Blob” on the West Coast;
  • Documented first underwater volcano eruption in Western Pacific; subsequent research lead to quantifying the role of iron from ocean vents and seeps in fertilizing the marine food web;
  • Major contributor to the role of black carbon (aka soot) in affecting weather patterns and climate; 
  • Conducted modeling and developed software for the national Tsunami warning system;
  • Reconstructed Arctic climate in 19th century and to parameterize climate models with data extracted from nautical historical log books;
  • Developed instrumentation for real-time, autonomous monitoring of environmental factors in extreme environments that extended sampling and increased efficiency.