UAlbany Announced as Partner on $208 Million NOAA Severe Weather Research Institute

Albany, N.Y. (June 21, 2021) – The University at Albany has been selected to partner on a National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Severe Weather Research Institute that comes with an award of up to $208 million over the next five years.

NOAA’s new Cooperative Institute for Severe and High-Impact Weather Research and Operations (CISHIWRO) will be led by the University of Oklahoma and comprised of a number of partnering institutions including UAlbany, Howard University, Penn State and Texas Tech. There will also be collaboration with NOAA’s Cooperative Science Center in Atmospheric Sciences and Meteorology (NCAS-M), in addition to others.

The institute, announced last week, is focused on severe and high-impact weather with research themes including: weather radar and observations research and development, mesoscale and stormscale modeling research and development, forecast applications improvements research and development, subseasonal-to-seasonal (S2S) prediction for extreme weather events, and social and socioeconomic impacts of high impact weather systems.

UAlbany will leverage a group of 20 researchers in atmospheric science, emergency management and information technology to help explore the many challenges that come with high-impact weather events from different lenses. 

“Extreme weather is a growing area of societal concern – particularly given the increased frequency and intensity of high impact events in the face of a rapidly changing climate,” said UAlbany Vice President for Research James Dias. “As one of the nation’s most diverse Research I institutions, UAlbany is proud to offer its expertise across a number of related disciplines to support CISHIWRO’s mission. The research conducted through this new institute will vastly improve our understanding of high impact weather, increase resiliency and ultimately save lives.”

Interdisciplinary Expertise

With close to 120 faculty, researchers and staff, UAlbany’s Weather-Climate Enterprise hosts the largest concentration of atmospheric, climate and environmental scientists in New York State, and one of the largest in the nation. UAlbany is also home to the nation’s first College of Emergency Preparedness, Homeland Security and Cybersecurity (CEHC).

CEHC and UAlbany’s atmospheric scientists are teaming up to create innovative approaches to decision-making around hazardous events with a goal of exploiting emerging research in weather and emergency management. This interdisciplinary collaboration will only continue to grow next fall with the launch of ETEC, a new $180 million, 245,000 square-foot R&D complex, that will house both entities, along with NOAA’s Albany Weather Forecast Office. ETEC includes a state of-the-art decision theater to simulate high-impact weather.

Under CISHIWRO, UAlbany investigators will seek to pursue a series of studies spanning the following research areas:

  • Evaluating the efficacy of the communication of science, forecasts and hazardous weather products to organizational partners and the public in support of protective action decision-making.
  • Improving the NOAA/NWS forecast information for high impact events to optimize the public’s response to high impact warnings.
  • Enhancing the communication of forecast uncertainty and rare event risks to improve delivery.

In addition to addressing the social and socio-economic impacts of high-impact weather, UAlbany researchers will also study the disproportionate impacts severe weather inflicts upon underserved populations – including lower-income, culturally, ethnically and racially diverse, elderly and other vulnerable groups.

“My UAlbany colleagues join me in extending our strong and enthusiastic support to NOAA, the University of Oklahoma and other partners on the launch of CISHIWRO,” said Chris Thorncroft, who directs UAlbany’s Atmospheric Sciences Research Center, NYS Mesonet and Center of Excellence in Weather & Climate Analytics. “We very much look forward to being a part of this critically-needed, high-impact initiative.”

“This is an exciting opportunity to bring the extreme weather, emergency management and information and communications technology research communities together in a collaborative effort to develop usable knowledge and improved forecasting, situational awareness, and risk practices that will enhance emergency response and whole community resilience,” said Eric Stern, CEHC professor and faculty chair.

“Along with new opportunities for our researchers, this institute will also educate and train the next generation of interdisciplinary scientists at the intersection of extreme weather and risk communication,” said Ryan Torn, chair of UAlbany’s Department of Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences. “Students will have the opportunity to interact with faculty from a number of institutions and areas of expertise.”

NOAA’s Cooperative Institutes

Formerly the Cooperative Institute for Mesoscale Meteorological Studies, CISHIWRO transitions a long-standing center of excellence, known for research in mesoscale meteorology, weather radar and regional climate, and transitioning many research products into National Weather Service operations.

NOAA supports a total of 20 cooperative institutes consisting of 70 universities and research institutions in 28 states and the District of Columbia. These research institutions provide strong educational programs that promote student and postdoctoral scientist involvement in NOAA-funded research.

CISHIWRO will be awarded over five years, with the potential for another five years based on successful performance.


About the University at Albany:

A comprehensive public research university, the University at Albany-SUNY offers more than 120 undergraduate majors and minors and 125 master’s, doctoral and graduate certificate programs. UAlbany is a leader among all New York State colleges and universities in such diverse fields as atmospheric and environmental sciences, businesseducation, public health, health sciences, criminal justice, emergency preparedness, engineering and applied sciences, informatics, public administration, social welfare and sociology, taught by an extensive roster of faculty experts. It also offers expanded academic and research opportunities for students through an affiliation with Albany Law School. With a curriculum enhanced by 600 study-abroad opportunities, UAlbany launches great careers.



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