NOAA funds new Cooperative Institute for Marine, Earth and Atmospheric Systems

CIMEAS supports ongoing collaboration between UC Santa Cruz and the National Marine Fisheries Service Southwest Fisheries Science Center

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CIMEAS will support research in marine ecological systems, fisheries management, global climate, and other areas. (Photo by Dan Costa)
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Daniel Costa, Director of the UCSC Institute of Marine Sciences (Photo by Bruce Lyon)

UC Santa Cruz is a major partner in a new Cooperative Institute for Marine, Earth, and Atmospheric Systems (CIMEAS), funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and led by Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego.

The institute will conduct collaborative, multidisciplinary research on climate, oceans, and ecosystems to better understand the coupled systems and assess the physical and biological state of the oceans. CIMEAS will advance regional, national, and global understanding of natural and human-caused impacts on ecosystems and the sustainable ways to strengthen our environmental and economic well-being.

At UC Santa Cruz, CIMEAS will support ongoing collaborations between researchers in the Institute of Marine Sciences (IMS) and NOAA fisheries scientists.

CIMEAS will continue to develop and extend our strong collaboration with the National Marine Fisheries Service Southwest Fisheries Science Center,” said IMS Director Daniel Costa, a professor of ecology and evolutionary biology (EEB). “This program will support critical research into the factors that regulate fisheries along the West Coast of the U.S. It will support graduate students and postdocs as our nation's workforce to understand the role of climate in fisheries management.”

Eric Palkovacs, associate professor of EEB and associate director of the Fisheries Collaborative Program, said the UCSC-NOAA collaborations in freshwater and fisheries ecology bring to the campus about $10 million per year in research funding.

This is a large and vibrant program that supports about 80 UCSC researchers, students, and postdocs working on collaborative projects with the NOAA Southwest Fisheries Science Center,” he said.

In addition to UC San Diego and UC Santa Cruz, the institute will include Humboldt State University, Cal State University Los Angeles, the Farallon Institute, Moss Landing Marine Labs managed by San Jose State University, UC Davis, UCLA, and UC Santa Barbara. The range of partner institutions brings significant expertise, facilities, and capabilities to the institute, and will expose NOAA to diverse talent, technology, and ideas.

The selection of UC San Diego to host the institute, made through an open competitive evaluation, comes with an award of up to $220 million over five years, with the potential for renewal for another five years based on successful performance.

In partnership with NOAA and other agencies, CIMEAS will conduct and coordinate innovative research in four main areas, focusing on the western United States, the California Current, and the Pacific and Southern oceans. The science will support ecosystem-based management of living marine resources; research, development, and technology innovation for global ocean observations and monitoring; coastal and oceanic observations, analysis, and prediction; and weather, water, and climate research.

Scripps Institution of Oceanography brings together ocean observing systems with both regional and global scope, modeling expertise that adds new dimensions to our ability to predict the ocean, and ocean insights built on more than 100 years of exploration,” said Margaret Leinen, vice chancellor of marine sciences at UC San Diego and director of Scripps Oceanography. “This expertise along with powerful partnerships with West Coast universities, local, regional, state, national and international governments, businesses and non-profits will generate the kinds of insights that NOAA needs to ensure a sustainable future for the ocean.”

CIMEAS will also support sustained observation programs in marine ecological systems and global climate. Among them are iconic long-term studies like the 70-year California Cooperative Oceanic Fisheries Investigations (CalCOFI), the Mauna Loa Observatory at which atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations are measured, the Argo international network of global ocean profiling floats, and more.

CIMEAS is home to many vital long-term observation programs that lay the foundation for understanding our complex earth system, and we’re proud of our long-standing partnership with NOAA on many of these programs,” said research oceanographer Bruce Cornuelle, director of the new institute. “Through CIMEAS, we look forward to helping improve the scientific understanding of the ocean, Earth, and atmosphere for the benefit of the public, and training the next generation of diverse scientists through collaborations with our partner institutions.”

NOAA supports 17 cooperative institutes consisting of 57 universities and research institutions in 23 states and the District of Columbia. These research institutions provide strong educational programs that promote student and postdoctoral scientist involvement in NOAA-funded research.

Our cooperative institutes are a vital component of NOAA’s mission to address emerging scientific issues and train the next generation of researchers,” said Craig McLean, assistant NOAA administrator for Oceanic and Atmospheric Research. “This institute will help NOAA achieve our mission to better understand the ocean and atmosphere, which depends on research, data and information to make sound decisions for healthy ecosystems, communities and a strong blue economy.”