Charting the Course of Climate Change

November 30, 2005

Everybody talks about the weather, and now, maybe, something can be done about it. Duke has been chosen to administer a new U.S. Department of Energy program that will distribute approximately $10 million to universities and other institutions in the Southeast for climate- change research during the next five years.

Duke's Center on Global Change will host one of four regional centers for the energy department's new National Institute for Climate Change Research (NICCR) that will fund research nationwide on the effects of climate change on ecosystems and the atmosphere. The Duke center, which was initially created to promote interdisciplinary research on topics such as global warming and shifts in land use, will be responsible for selecting and coordinating such NICCR-sponsored research studies in an eleven-state area stretching from North Carolina to Texas. Other NICCR regional centers are located at Pennsylvania State University, Michigan Technological University, and Northern Arizona University.

Duke and the other regional centers will each receive $1 million over five years to administer their part of the institute program. Duke scientists will be eligible to join other investigators in their region in competing for research funds, but energy department guidelines limit host institution researchers to a maximum of 25 percent of available regional funding.

Eligible research proposals will include studies of the effects of warming, altered precipitation, elevated carbon dioxide, or elevated ozone concentrations on land ecosystems "of regional or national importance," and projects to create new computer models that can predict the effects of climate change on regional land ecosystems, as well as finding new ways to evaluate interactions between such ecosystems and the atmosphere.

Duke already receives significant energy department funding for similar studies--notably the Free-Air Carbon Dioxide Enrichment (FACE) project.