Proposed regional climate center to be discussed at MU

Tuesday, November 9, 2010 | 6:13 p.m. CST

COLUMBIA — On Wednesday, a group of experts from across disciplines will meet to discuss the possibility of a regional climate center at MU.

The center would focus on future climate change, if its supporters are able to obtain the necessary funding for the project.

Anthony Lupo, a professor in atmospheric science, will be on hand to discuss the proposal.

“The goal of this is to develop a regional center where decision makers in society at large can get climate information,” Lupo said. “We know that climate change is an issue.”

Lupo said that Missouri could partner with a number of states on the project, including Iowa, Illinois, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota.

Thomas Johnson, a professor in agricultural and applied economics, said that a regional center makes more sense than limiting it to Missouri.

“State boundaries don’t really line up with ecosystems or with cultural or economic relationships,” Johnson said. “Here in the middle of the continent we’re going to have unique stresses and challenges.”

Johnson said many different fields can benefit from having a regional climate center.

“Farmers will have the opportunity to change their choices about crops they’re going to put in,” Johnson said. “People might change their decision about certain kinds of investments in that time frame.”

Johnson also said a climate center can help determine how resources are spent.

“Climate change in the longer term is going to make many of our current investments,” Johnson said. “Every sector of the economy will be potentially needed to reevaluate its priorities in terms of investments and opportunities.”

The center will seek to bring together professionals from multiple areas to work on the project, Lupo said.

“Since climate affects everything, we’re looking for interdisciplinary partnerships within medicine, agriculture, economics (and) anything where people would feel they have an interest," he said.

Costs for the center have not been finalized. Lupo estimates the annual costs would range between $750,000 to $1 million.

The group has so far submitted two proposals for funding. One proposal has been sent to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and according to Johnson, the other proposal has been sent to NASA.

The meeting will start at 2 p.m. and will take place in room 123 in the Anheuser-Busch Natural Resources Building. 

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