About the South-Central United States

ChacoCulture
Photo Credit: US Geological Survey

The South Central Climate Science Center (SC CSC) focuses on four states in the South Central US: Oklahoma, Texas, Louisiana, and New Mexico.

This region contains astounding natural diversity, from semi-arid ecosystems in New Mexico to sweeping grasslands in Oklahoma to swampy, humid bayous in Louisiana. The region is also culturally diverse; more than 70 sovereign, federally-recognized tribes and pueblos call this region home, each with their own unique cultural practices and resource management institutions.

Although this resilient region is accustomed to weather and climate extremes, it is projected to experience unprecedented droughts, floods, and heat waves in the coming decades. These changes are already impacting water quantity and quality, wildlife ranges and breeding habitats, wetlands quality and extent, stream flow, invasive species ranges, and human health. Impacts to these natural and human resources can be extremely costly. Resource managers have the power to save taxpayers billions of dollars in the coming decades through proactive planning.

Federal, state, municipal, and tribal institutions across the region have expressed a need for unbiased scientific information that directly addresses the natural resource implications of a changing climate. The South Central Climate Science Center provides objective, tailored scientific information that empowers resource managers to improve their decision-making by considering future climate. The research we do is helping managers make decision about resources of critical economic importance that are impacted by climate variability, including:

• Agriculture, including winter wheat and sorghum
• Critical energy infrastructure (including oil, natural gas, and wind)
• The Rio Grande River, which provides drinking water to 13 million people
• Infrastructure that supports 90% of the US’s annual waterborne commerce
• Winter habitat for more than 5 million migratory waterfowl
• 37 National Parks drawing more than 8 million visitors and hundreds of millions in visitor spending per year.

We are committed to honoring the ecological, cultural, and economic diversity by pursuing interdisciplinary and intergovernmental research projects that have profound on-the-ground impacts.

Sources: 2014 National Climate Assessment
US National Park Service
Louisiana 2012 Coastal Master Plan
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department


USGS and DOI

The Department of the Interior South Central Climate Science Center (SC CSC) is part of a federal network of eight Climate Science Centers (CSCs) managed by the U.S. Geological Survey National Climate Change and Wildlife Science Center (NCCWSC). The NCCWSC and CSCs work with natural and cultural resource managers to gather the scientific information and build the tools needed to help fish, wildlife and ecosystems adapt to the impacts of climate change.

The CSCs and NCCWSC focus on the generation of data, decision-support tools, and other products that are practical and relevant to managers’ climate change monitoring and adaptation work.

Visit the National Climate Change and Wildlife Science Center website

Visit the U.S. Department of the Interior website

In addition to the South Central Climate Science Center, the other regional centers are:


About the Consortium

The work of the SC CSC is accomplished through a collaborative partnership among USGS scientists, resource management agencies, and a consortium of academic institutions from across the region. The SC CSC is hosted by and physically housed at the University of Oklahoma (OU), where space is provided for university, tribal, and federal employees. The academic consortium also includes six additional member institutions: Texas Tech University (TTU), Louisiana State University (LSU), the Chickasaw Nation (CN), the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma (CNO), Oklahoma State University (OSU), and NOAA’s Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Lab (GFDL). The consortium has broad expertise in the physical, biological, natural, and social sciences to address impacts of climate change on land, water, fish and wildlife, ocean, coastal, and cultural resources.

Learn more about the expertise each of these institutions brings to our consortium below.

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University of Oklahoma (OU)

Link to website

OU serves as the host institution to the South Central Climate Science Center. Located in Norman, Oklahoma, OU is known internationally for its expertise in atmospheric sciences and its 50-year partnership with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The Oklahoma Climatological, Biological, Geological, Archeological, and Water Surveys are integrated into OU and provide research, service, and outreach to the state. OU biologists, geographers, and ecologists have helped to develop the Natural Heritage Program, National Vegetation Classification, and National Ecological Observation Network. OU’s Biological Station is one of the largest field stations in the nation and OU’s herbarium includes >210,000 specimens. The Center for Applied Social Research at OU applies innovative concepts and methods in social sciences to advance complex, multi-faceted organizational, policy, and public health research, including as they relate to climate variability and change. OU leads the Southern Climate Impacts Planning Program in partnership with LSU, providing products and education on hazardous climatological events to stakeholders across a 7-state region.


Texas Tech University (TTU)

Link to website

TTU is located in Lubbock, Texas. Much of TTU’s research focuses on the impacts of climate variability and long-term trends on the ecosystems and human systems of semi-arid regions. This research has resulted in critical understanding on how climate change will alter ecosystem dynamics and services across important landscapes such as the South Central Region.  TTU also has longstanding expertise in high-resolution climate projections, producing the dataset of statistically downscaled projections used by the U.S. Global Change Research Program’s 2009 national assessment and contributing to the upcoming 2013 assessment. TTU is currently developing a new national database of high-resolution climate projections for the USGS as well as a best practices guidebook and instructional video series for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on how to apply climate projections in impact analyses. The Texas Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit and the Lubbock Water Science Center Field Office along with operations for the West Texas Mesonet are hosted at TTU.


Louisiana State University (LSU)

Link to website

LSU, located in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, is a land and sea grant institution.  Along with several other education and research units, the School of the Coast and Environment and the Department of Geography and Anthropology provide knowledge, technology, and human resources for successful management of natural resources and resolution of environmental issues important to Louisiana, the Gulf of Mexico region, and comparable areas throughout the nation and the world. LSU scientists contribute significant research in climate and environmental impacts related to wetland science, coastal processes, fisheries, pollution, toxicology and environmental policy and management to address the risks in Gulf of Mexico coastal habitats. LSU hosts the USGS National Wetlands Research Center Coastal Restoration Field Station, Louisiana Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, the Water Resources Research Institute, the Southern Regional Climate Center (working with the National Climatic Data Center), and in partnership with OU, the Southern Climate Impacts Planning Program.  Additionally, LSU hosts a significant archive of remote sensing data, including one of the largest archives of NOAA AVHRR (22 years) and GOES-East GVAR (14 years), as well as observations of weather data from the Louisiana Agro-climatic Information System and wave-current data from the Wave-Current-Surge Information System. In collaboration with other Louisiana institutions such as the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium, LSU researchers have access to coastal research vessels intended for use in coastal bays, rivers and estuaries along the Gulf of Mexico and in the Caribbean, and Western Atlantic.


Chickasaw Nation (CN)

Link to website

CN is headquartered in Ada, Oklahoma, and its jurisdictional territory includes 7,648 square miles of south-central Oklahoma and encompasses all of 6 and parts of 7 different counties. CN is particularly interested in protection of water resources in the face of future climate change and variability.  The award winning Chickasaw Cultural Center includes several water features that demonstrate the importance of water resources to the heritage and cultural traditions of the tribe.  CN and DOI’s Bureau of Reclamation led a team to study aquifer recharge rates across the state and implemented an artificial recharge project at the Arbuckle-Simpson Aquifer in order to maintain and enhance nearby spring flow. In 2009, the DOI honored this project with a “Partners in Conservation Award.” CN and CNO now collaborate on long-term water planning that examines the future of water quality and quantity within south-central and south-east Oklahoma and includes both consumptive and non-consumptive uses of water. The study also provides a forum for an improved State-Tribal partnership on water resource matters and, when completed, will provide a regional and intergovernmental adjunct to Oklahoma’s comprehensive water plan.


Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma (CNO)

Link to website

CNO is headquartered in Durant, Oklahoma, and its jurisdictional territory includes 10,864 square miles of south-east Oklahoma and encompasses all of 8 and parts of 5 different counties.  With over 200,000 enrolled members, it is the third most populous tribe in the United States. CNO is particularly interested in protection of water resources in the face of future climate change and variability.  CNO has hosted students from OU’s Applied Climatology class in order to communicate the cultural and economic importance of water resources to the tribe.  Recently, CNO received funding from DOI’s Bureau of Indian Affairs’ Tribal Climate Change Grant Program to create a “Choctaw Drought Contingency Plan.” CN and CNO now collaborate on long-term water planning that examines the future of water quality and quantity within south-central and south-east Oklahoma and includes both consumptive and non-consumptive uses of water. The study also provides a forum for an improved State-Tribal partnership on water resource matters and, when completed, will provide a regional and intergovernmental adjunct to Oklahoma’s comprehensive water plan.


Oklahoma State University (OSU)

Link to website

OSU is a land grant institution located in Stillwater, Oklahoma. OSU is a leader in conducting research in agricultural and natural resource science that enriches and improves the lives of Oklahomans, communicating this research to the public and conducting adaptive training for both individuals and professionals. Recent funded research at OSU focuses on ecological costs of biofuels, carbon sequestration in prairies and forests, invasive plants and animals, and biodiversity. An on-going project integrates research, education, and extension to enhance southern pine mitigation and adaptation under projected climate change. OSU hosts the Oklahoma Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, the Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service, the Oklahoma Agricultural Experiment Station, an NSF-NEON site, and, in conjunction with OU, designed, implemented and maintains the Oklahoma Mesonet.


NOAA’s Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory (GFDL)

Link to website

GFDL is located in Princeton, New Jersey.  For several decades, GFDL has been a world-leader in the field of global climate model research, building and interpreting computer-based models relevant for society. At its core, GFDL’s extensive research portfolio aims to improve our understanding and prediction of the behavior of the interconnected climate system – the atmosphere, ocean, ice, and land surface, as well as aspects of terrestrial and marine ecosystems. Accordingly, GFDL’s research interests span a wide range of scientific disciplines, spatial scales, and time scales. GFDL has contributed state-of-the-art global climate model projections and expertise to several U.S. and international climate assessment reports, including those of the IPCC. GFDL hosts USGS’s Continental Water, Climate, and Earth-System Dynamics project, co-locating USGS experts in climate-water-ecosystem interactions with GFDL’s climate modeling community. Consortium scientists at TTU have worked closely with GFDL on topics including the application of statistical techniques to effectively transfer and translate scientifically credible information from the realm of the large-scale climate to that relevant for local-scale impacts.