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Texas A&M wins bid to house regional climate center

Posted at 8:01 PM, Aug 05, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-05 21:01:54-04

BRAZOS VALLEY — Climate science has become an increasingly relevant sphere and now Texas A&M can claim that they are home to one of the nation's top climate institutions.

The Southern Regional Climate Center manages climate data for several states, including Texas. The center was previously housed at LSU, but when it came time for a contract renewal, Texas A&M put a proposal together to claim that they should become the new home of the SRCC. Professor John Nielsen-Gammon was part of the team that pushed for NOAA to take a hard look at the Aggies. Nielson-Gammon is also the Texas State Climatologist.

"Our proposals were evaluated. They decided ours was worth funding, so after a brief period of transition, we're it now," said Nielsen-Gammon.

The university won the bid to move the SRCC to Bryan/College Station. There are only six regional climate centers in the nation, and now Texas A&M gets to claim one of them. Part of the center's job is to turn regional data into solutions at the state and local levels.

"Getting data to people, locally that need climate data. Developing climate products that people use easily and access it easily," said Nielsen-Gammon.

One goal of the climate center is that through their efforts and collaborations with other agencies, the day-to-day lives of Texans will be improved.

"It's definitely designed to make people's, um, make the best possible use of weather and climate information, and make decision-makers do that so that decisions being made on behalf of the public are appropriate," said Nielsen-Gammon.

Having the SRCC on campus opens up a whole new world of possibilities for future partnerships with the university. Nielsen-Gammon says he is expecting to work with the National Weather Service and the Department of Transportation soon, among other groups.

"We can actually make, you know, bring a whole world of climate information their fingertips, and help them understand how to interpret things," said Nielsen-Gammon.

Climate scientists aren't really the stereotypical workers in white lab coats, nor do they stare at numbers and maps all day. There will be a lot of analyzing current climate trends at the SRCC, but their work doesn't stop there. The scientists hope to tackle real-world problems by developing higher-resolution data and proposing new ideas to old challenges.

In addition to working on new ways to analyze real-time precipitation hazards for travel, the SRCC is also planning to improve drought monitoring. More accurate drought information will mean more compensation from the USDA for farmers in counties that are hit the hardest.