Fund for Climate Solutions awards nine new research projects

Photo collage of Arctic tundra, pine forest, and Amazon forest.

Woodwell Climate Research Center has issued a round of grants from the Fund for Climate Solutions, an innovative internal funding instrument created by the Board of Directors. The Fund aims to advance climate solutions by extending or augmenting crucial research initiatives, seeding new projects that offer breakthrough policy or scientific impact, and allowing startup projects to get off the ground to show proof of concept work for outside funding opportunities.

The new projects being supported by the Fund:

Resilience of the Global Forest Carbon Sink
Project Lead: Dr. Richard Birdsey

This project aims to assess the resilience of the global forest carbon sink, an essential element of reaching net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. Dr. Birdsey and a team of scientists from around the world will compile an inventory-based estimate of the carbon sink in the world’s forests for the last 3 decades, identify the main factors that have significantly affected the magnitude of the forest carbon sink (or source) for different biomes and regions of the world, and assess the likelihood that the global forest carbon sink will persist, increase, or decrease over the next three decades.

Creating a Long-term Coastal Watershed Climate Resilience Experiment 
Project leads: Linda Deegan and Christopher Neill

This project marks the beginning of a partnership with the Buzzards Bay Coalition and a cranberry bog farmer to establish the first experimental research program designed to understand how restoration of agricultural wetlands and rivers in Massachusetts coastal watersheds will increase coastal resilience to climate change.

A Large-Scale Pattern Approach to Measuring Changes in “Weather Whiplash” Events
Project Lead: Dr. Jennifer Francis

This project will create a new technique to measure and analyze “whiplash” events, such as abrupt transitions from a prolonged heatwave to a cold spell, or persistent dry conditions to stormy ones. Once developed, the method could then be used to identify changes in frequency, both in the past and in future projections, based on climate model simulations under differing emission scenarios.

Estimating national-level emissions of carbon from land-use change
Project Lead: Dr. Richard “Skee” Houghton

This project will use data from the UN Food and Agriculture Organization’s 2020 Forest Resources Assessment  to update to 2020 estimates of annual emissions of carbon from changes in land use, with a special focus on the impact of shifting cultivation, an agricultural system which keeps a large area of forest in fallow and, thus, prevents forests from accumulating carbon.

Salmon, water, and people on the Kenai Peninsula: Science to inform policy
Project Lead: Anna Liljedahl

The increase in temperature of streams on the Kenai Peninsula of Alaska poses a threat to migrating Chinook salmon, an economic pillar of many local communities. This project aims to gather critical data on Chinook salmon stress due to warming and will be conducted in collaboration with local stakeholders to drive policy conducted by the Kenai Peninsula Borough and the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

Building an International Network of Ground Observations for the Arctic Carbon Monitoring and Prediction System
Project leads: Sue Natali, Brendan Rogers, Jennifer Watts

Currently, carbon emissions from thawing permafrost are not included in models utilized to inform international climate policy. This project will establish an international observatory to monitor key ecological and environmental changes relevant to Arctic carbon cycling, designed to support predictions of carbon emissions at the pan-Arctic scale.

Tropical Forests: The Original Natural Climate Solution
Project leads: Michael Coe, Marcia Macedo, Glenn Bush 

Tropical forests represent the most efficient and cost effective natural climate solution, but without sound forest management, anthropogenic and climatic stressors could cause widespread degradation of the remaining forests; undermine national conservation, climate change, and socioeconomic development goals; and exacerbate global climate changes and the social conflicts likely to emerge from them. The goal of this proposal is to create the Tropical Carbon and Climate Portal (TCCP), which will provide streamlined access to data visualization tools, so non-technical users can explore and interpret historical and future climate and carbon data and help develop effective management of the remaining tropical forests into an uncertain future.

Climate Change and Global Security: Mapping the Risks and Response
Project Lead: Dr. Christopher Schwalm

Woodwell is part of a broader research and policy development partnership with Norwich University and the Center for Climate and Security to provide granular global security analysis built on sound science, as well as specific U.S. policy responses for addressing identified risks. This project will examine climate security threats in nuclear states, including those with nuclear latency – those who may be trying to acquire nuclear weapons. The analysis and results will then be distributed to key policymakers and decision makers.

High Carbon and Primary Forests of the United States: Science in Support of National Conservation and Climate Policy
Project Lead: Dr. Wayne Walker

With the Trump administration threatening to expose 9.2 million acres of intact temperate rainforest in Alaska’s Tongass National Forest to road building, this project will measure and map the current extent and magnitude of high carbon and primary forests across the United States, with a special focus on Tongass as a case study. The results will be communicated to the range of relevant stakeholder audiences, including state and federal decisionmakers, who’ll be engaged using policy briefs and infographics. The findings will also be shared with the scientific community via the peer-reviewed literature.

To learn more about how to support the Fund for Climate Solutions, contact Leslie Kolterman, Chief Development Officer, at

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