Highlights from FY2022

Thank you for your annual support to Woodwell Climate Research Center.

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For 37 years, Woodwell has conducted groundbreaking research and partnered with communities as well as local, national, and international leaders to translate our research into tangible action.

This year’s Impact Report showcases the great strides Woodwell has made in advancing science, policy, and action. This couldn’t have happened without your support!

Colorado rangeland fieldwork. / photo by Sarah Ruiz


Innovative research at home and abroad

  • In partnership with Colorado State University, Woodwell sent a team to southwestern Colorado where they did groundbreaking research on how rangelands can be used to store carbon. Woodwell’s Dr. Yushu Xia created a data-hosting website so that, as more research is done, ranchers can easily access and use the findings to advocate for carbon incentives. This will create new motivation for ranching to be done more sustainably.
  • The director of Woodwell’s carbon program, Dr. Wayne Walker, was the lead author of a paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences about the untapped potential for land-based carbon storage. Dr. Walker and his team found that plants and soils have the potential to store 287 billion metric tons more carbon across the globe. This finding will help inform the way countries reach their carbon emission reduction goals.
  • Dr. Sue Natali was awarded the 2021 AGU Award for Excellence in Education and Mentoring in part for her work leading Woodwell’s Polaris Project, a two-week field program for students interested in Arctic and climate science. While the program was on hiatus during the pandemic, it returned this year to support a motivated and bright cohort of future climate researchers.
  • Woodwell launched a transformative six-year research project called Permafrost Pathways. With permafrost being an understudied, yet critical carbon sink, the project’s goal is to research how thawing permafrost affects global warming; help Arctic communities cope with its effects; and develop policies that counteract the effects of permafrost emissions.
  • Behind the scenes, Woodwell’s annual fund has made possible the implementation of a new software system for our grants and financial operations, boosting the efficiency of our administrative operations.

Glenn Bush speaking during a panel discussion at COP26. / photo by Beth Brazil


Working towards lasting policy change

  • Last August, Dr. Max Holmes assumed the position of Acting President and Executive Director when Dr. Philip Duffy joined the Biden White House as Senior Climate Advisor to the Office of Science and Technology. Throughout 2021, Dr. Duffy provided climate science expertise to support the Biden administration’s climate agenda, and late this spring Dr. Duffy was asked to extend his stay and continue his important work with the administration. As Dr. Holmes’s leadership during this interim period has proven to be a great asset to the organization during Dr. Duffy’s time away, Dr. Holmes transitioned from acting to permanent President and CEO of Woodwell Climate Research Center in June.
  • Woodwell partnered with the COP26 Presidency on a series of workshops aimed at increasing climate risk understanding at the highest levels of government. The workshops were held for 13 different countries. Each one was tailored to an individual country so that the Woodwell team could work with the country’s leaders to both convey the physical climate risks affecting their country and how this knowledge could be incorporated into country-level commitments at COP as well as in their national policies at home.
  • Climate science was a prominent issue discussed by policymakers this year, and Woodwell played a strong part in the process.
    • We delivered a letter to the Secretary of the SEC, Vanessa A. Countrymen, endorsing their proposed rule for the enhancement and standardization of climate-related disclosures for investors.
    • After our research showed a critical gap in climate change-related flood insurance, we submitted a public comment to FEMA calling for the National Flood Insurance Program to address this issue.
    • In partnership with Chatham House, we published a policy brief that examines the greenhouse gas emissions from burning US-sourced woody biomass in the EU and UK.
  • Woodwell’s Senior Scientist, Dr. Jonathan Sanderman, co-authored the article “Crediting Agricultural Soil Carbon Sequestration” for the March 17, 2022 issue of Science magazine. The article offers solutions for the lack of standardized systems for soil organic carbon measuring. Such a standard rating system would greatly impact the way carbon credits are calculated.
  • Talks for the 2023 Farm Bill have begun in the Senate and Woodwell has been advocating for the inclusion of sustainable land management. We published a policy brief that outlined our priorities for the bill with the goal to promote climate conscious agriculture in ways that support sustainability for farmers, ranchers, and foresters.

Workshop for Indigenous fire brigades in Brasilia, Brazil. / photo my Manoela Machado


Turning science into action

  • In March, Woodwell scientists went to Brasília, Brazil to partner with local organizations to train firefighters from different Indigenous communities on the basics of Global Information Systems technology. This week-long fire brigade workshop provided local communities with the tools necessary to help them independently monitor and manage the Brazilian lands and forests that are prone to forest fires.
  • In an effort to support vulnerable communities, Woodwell provided free analyses to local governments that don’t have the funds to pay for privatized climate assessments. This included information on flood risks in Chelsea, heat inequities in New Orleans, and wildfire patterns in Homer and Seldovia, Alaska.
  • Through strategic partnerships, we brought our science to specialists to identify and highlight connections with climate change. Woodwell hosted a Q&A with meteorologists that provided insights into how weather events are exacerbated by climate change. Additionally, we hosted a virtual event in conjunction with the Massachusetts Office of the Attorney General and NYU State Energy and Environment Impact Center. The panelists explained how climate risks are assessed and integrated into decision making.

Thank you for your annual support to Woodwell Climate Research Center. Your generosity helps to make these achievements possible.

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