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By Alan Flurry

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced a national consortium of academic and nonprofit institutions, with leadership from the University of Maryland College Park (UMD) and North Carolina State University focused on improving our understanding of how the atmosphere, ocean, land, and biosphere of Earth interact with each other and with human activity as an integrated system.

The Cooperative Institute for Satellite Earth System Studies (CISESS, pronounced See-siss) was awarded May 24 with a total budget of up to $175 million over the five-year period of July 1, 2019 – June 30, 2024. The University of Georgia is among the 16 academic and four non-academic partners in the consortium.

As part of the cooperative agreement, nine UGA investigators are able to propose NOAA mission-critical science to support the objectives of the cooperative center. The investigators, all from the Franklin College, include Renato Castelao from the department of marine sciences; Amanda Frossard, from the department of chemistry; Marshall Shepherd, John Knox, Tom Mote, Deepak Mishra, Marguerite Madden, David Cotten and Gabriel Kooperman from the department of geography. Shepherd will serve as the lead investigator at UGA.

Satellite estimate of rain rate (mm/h) from the Microwave Integrated Retrieval System (MiRS) around Tropical Storm Hermine 1 September 2016 (left), and the Stage IV radar-gauge analysis (right), courtesy of NOAA.

Satellite estimate of rain rate (mm/h) from the Microwave Integrated Retrieval System (MiRS) around Tropical Storm Hermine 1 September 2016 (left), and the Stage IV radar-gauge analysis (right), courtesy of NOAA.

“With decades of experience and productivity in weather, climate, marine sciences, remote sensing, and atmospheric chemistry-related research, our institution is well positioned to contribute research supporting research themes related to Satellite Services, Earth System Observations and Services, and Earth System Research,” said Shepherd, current chairman of NASA’s Earth Science Advisory Committee.

Specific UGA contributions will encompass the follow research topics: (1) hydroclimate of the tropics and polar regions, (2) land-based hurricane intensification processes, (3) urbanization and the energy-food-water nexus, (4) remote sensing of the health of inland and coastal water waterways, (5) carbon-based ecosystems, (6) earth system modeling of freshwater ecosystems and extreme hydrometeorological phenomena, (7) clear-air turbulence and convective/non-convective wind events, (8) geospatial techniques, and (9) the impacts of aerosols on cloud-climate interactions.

“Over the next five years, UGA investigators will identify NOAA related topics in these areas that can be supported through the Cooperative Institute,” Shepherd said. “As a partner in the Institute, UGA can leverage its expertise to address critical questions about our Earth system.”

In cooperation with NOAA, CISESS will coordinate with other academic partners on innovative research that aligns with priorities of NOAA’s National Environmental Satellite and Information Service (NESDIS) and National Weather Service. CISESS will contribute through better analysis and integration of satellite observations from NOAA and partner satellites, thereby improving our understanding and prediction of the global Earth System. It will provide the capabilities and expertise to improve systems for data access, quality, management, processing, analysis, assimilation, modeling, dissemination, visualization and stewardship.