News Archive

posted 11/14/03

NOAA/Columbia University Establish Cooperative Institute For Climate Applications And Research

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and Columbia University in Palisades, N.Y., have established a cooperative institute to study climate applications and research. NOAA is an agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce.

Columbia University recently was awarded a research grant for the Cooperative Institute for Climate Applications and Research (CICAR), to be headquartered at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Obseratory. This five-year grant carries a funding ceiling of $50 million from NOAA under a cooperative agreement for interdisciplinary climate modeling and applications activities.

At a lecture delivered by retired Navy VADM Conrad Lautenbacher, Ph.D., undersecretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator, today at the Lamont Doherty Campus, Lautenbacher explained the importance of collaborative partnerships for the advancement of scientific knowledge.

“The pressing socioeconomic challenges of the 21st century will call for new scientific and operational capacity within the institutions and agencies that work to understand the physical, biological, and chemical cycles that characterize the Earth's natural systems,” he said. “This will require creative partnerships to understand and manage ecosystems in a global manner - the same interrelated manner as the environment that we observe, while recognizing the link between the economy and our planet’s environment.”

CICAR, hosted by NOAA’s Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory (GFDL) in Princeton, N.J., part of NOAA’s Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research, will collaborate with NOAA scientists to advance climate research, education and outreach.

CICAR will be NOAA’s 13th joint or cooperative institute. The institutes bring together the resources of a research-oriented university or institution, the office of Ocean and Atmospheric Research (OAR), and other branches of NOAA to develop and maintain a center of excellence in research relevant to understanding the Earth's oceans and coasts, atmosphere, and climate. (For more information on OAR joint and cooperative institutes, visit

“Partnerships like this one with Columbia University are essential as we work to have a better understanding of Earth’s climate system and how to prepare for and cope with its variabilities,” said Ants Leetmaa, GFDL director. He noted that Columbia University is one of the world’s premier institutions in the studying the earth’s environment and its relationship to human society.

CICAR will focus on the modeling, understanding, prediction and assessment of climate variability and change; development, collection, analysis and archiving of instrumental and paleoclimate data; and the application of climate variability and change prediction and assessment to provide information for decision makers and assessing risk to water resources, agriculture, health and policy.

"The human effects on our environment present potential risks of enormous complexity," said Jeffrey Sachs, director of The Earth Institute. "Most dramatic, but still very imperfectly understood, are the human effects on long-term climate, which could disrupt vast biological, geochemical and social systems in future decades. This award allows Columbia scientists to continue their path-breaking work in uncovering the complex processes of long-term climate change."
The CICAR director, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory Senior Research Scientist Yochanan Kushnir, is eager to enhance the collaboration between Columbia University and NOAA and in particular between LDEO and GFDL.

“Both these research communities have long been tied in a common goal to document, understand and model Earth’s climate history and to predict its behavior on a broad spectrum of time scales,” said Kushnir. “It is our common intention to continue work towards these goals and invigorate our collaboration through joint scientific research and educational activities."

The goal of GFDL’s research is to understand and predict the Earth's climate and weather, including the impact of human activities. GFDL conducts leading edge research on many topics including weather and hurricane forecasts, El Niño prediction, stratospheric ozone depletion, and climate change.

NOAA's Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research conducts research, develops products and provides scientific information and leadership to foster NOAA’s evolving environmental and economic mission.

The Commerce Department's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through the prediction and research of weather and climate related events and providing environmental stewardship of our nation's coastal and marine resources. For more information, visit

The Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, a member of The Earth Institute at Columbia University, is one of the world’s leading research centers examining the planet from its core to its atmosphere, across every continent and every ocean. From global climate change to earthquakes, volcanoes, environmental hazards and beyond, Observatory scientists provide the basic knowledge of Earth systems needed to inform the future health and habitability of our planet. For more information, visit

The Earth Institute at Columbia University is among the world’s leading academic centers for the integrated study of Earth, its environment, and society. The Earth Institute builds upon excellence in the core disciplines—earth sciences, biological sciences, engineering sciences, social sciences and health sciences—and stresses cross-disciplinary approaches to complex problems. Through its research, training and global partnerships, it mobilizes science and technology to advance sustainable development, while placing special emphasis on the needs of the world’s poor.