The Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES) has been a world leader in environmental sciences since its 1967 establishment at the University of Colorado at Boulder. CIRES promotes collaboration among scientists in nine university departments and programs, NOAA Research, NOAA Satellite and Information Service, and the National Weather Service. CIRES is the largest of NOAA’s cooperative institutes, employing more than 800 people, about 400 of them co-located with NOAA colleagues in the David Skaggs Research Center.
CIRES carries out research in nine theme areas: (1) Air Quality in a Changing Climate—measuring air pollutants such as greenhouse gases, reactive gases, and aerosols that may be hazardous to humans, to predict air quality conditions, and supporting efforts to reduce risk arising from poor air quality; (2) Climate Forcing Feedbacks and Analysis—conducting studies of climate forcing by aerosols and radiatively active gases that may be influenced by human activity, of sea surface temperatures that affect climate, and of human induced and natural processes that explain climate variability; (3) Earth Systems Dynamics, Variability and Change—improving models that predict variability of climate, the study of processes that explain climate variability, measuring and analyzing moisture in the atmosphere and on the Earth’s surface, and factors that affect global sea ice; (4) Management and Exploitation of Geophysical Data—enhancing data management and improving data access related to space weather, climate, coastal geophysical conditions, remote sensing of anthropogenic activities, and the historical and current status of polar ice cover; (5) Regional Science and Applications—developing models and implementing mechanisms for applying knowledge of climate at regional scales with emphasis on extreme events and developing new methods for conveying this information to managers, planners, and the public; (6) Scientific Outreach and Education—expanding environmental databases and information for delivery to the general public as well as K-12 and postsecondary education communities, including minority populations; (7) Space Weather Understanding and Prediction—making detailed observations of space weather, preserving and managing current and historical databases on space weather in support of space weather prediction, and studying model physical and chemical mechanisms that affect space weather; (8) Stratospheric Processes and Trends—measurement of atmospheric constituents that influence ozone in the upper atmosphere, collection of new data on the upper atmosphere, and improvement of models that make predictions for the upper atmosphere; and (9) Systems and Prediction Models Development—improving models that predict precipitation as well as extreme weather events including hurricanes and aviation hazards and developing high performance computing systems that support improved forecasting
Annually, CIRES scientists publish more than 750 peer-reviewed publications. This research is helping decision makers seeking to resolve complex problems by providing scientific insights to help shape informed policy. Examples of research focused upon societal needs include evaluating changes in the atmospheric concentration of greenhouse gases, assessing the health of Earth's ozone layer, projecting the impacts of climate change on water supply and other critical resources, documenting the thinning of polar ice, monitoring the quality of our air and water, helping to respond to drought and wildfire, developing microbial agents for degrading environmental pollutants, improving earthquake predictions, and providing decision makers with information for more effective risk assessments.
CIRES research activities assist NOAA in all four of its Mission Goals: 1) Protect, restore, and manage the use of coastal and ocean resources through ecosystem based management; 2) Understand climate variability and change to enhance society's ability to plan and respond; 3) Serve society's needs for weather and water information; and 4) Support the Nation's commerce with information for safe, efficient and environmentally sound transportation.