A new partnership at the University of Minnesota announced Wednesday will study climate change and how humans can better manage wildlife, ecosystems and natural resources in the Midwest.
The Climate Adaptation Science Center (CASC) will operate out of the Institute on the Environment on the U's St. Paul campus and is one of nine across the United States.
The centers, which stretch from Alaska and Hawaii to Massachusetts, are tasked with helping fish and wildlife resource managers adapt to the changing climate, according to the U.S. Geological Survey's website.
U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum's office said in a news release that the announcement was a culmination of her efforts.
"Our Minnesota communities know that climate change is already here, having suffered through a drought and dangerous air quality as a result of unprecedented wildfires this year," the Minnesota Democrat said in a news release. "Ensuring our communities are able to adapt to a changing climate and avoid the worst impacts of climate change is incredibly important in the short-term."
The designation comes with $4.5 million in operational funding over the length of the five-year agreement, but even more funding will be made available for projects and research, according to Jessica Hellmann, director of the Institute on the Environment and a U professor. Brain power for the projects will also include researchers and experts across the region, including Wisconsin, Iowa, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Ohio.
Projects will focus on a broad range of topics including ice coverage on the Great Lakes, the effect of algal blooms on fish and lake health and how to protect wild rice and moose, which are both sensitive to changes in climate, Hellmann said in an interview Wednesday.
The center will also work in conjunction with tribal communities and colleges, which have been on the "front lines of climate change" and have adapted accordingly, said Michael Dockry, assistant professor in tribal natural research management and a member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation in Oklahoma.
"We're really working to address some of the injustices, that both our institution as well as the nation and state have perpetuated against tribal communities. This climate science center is one other way we can rectify this and move forward for a sustainable future for all of us," he said Wednesday.
Previously, Minnesota was covered by a climate adaptation center in Massachusetts that was created in 2012. In 2016, it was determined that the Midwest needed its own center.
"For nine years, we were part of this bigger region and now we get our own focused attention from the federal government and our own focused attention from this consortium of universities and other agencies to develop science specific to our own region," Hellmann said. "There's been talk of meeting this need in the Midwest for a long time."
Alex Chhith • 612-673-4759