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DASNR Scientists Team Up on Climate Variability

DASNR Scientists Team Up on Climate Variability

A pair of multi-million dollar grants will help DASNR scientists investigate aspects of climate variability over the next five years.

The first project puts DASNR researchers with other southern Great Plains scientists and educators receiving $9.6 million during the five-year period. The goal is to improve understanding of the vulnerability and resilience of beef production in an environment of increased climate variability, dynamic landuse and fluctuating markets.

The award is provided through USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture, under the backing of its Agriculture and Food Research Initiative funding opportunity. Administered through DASNR’s Water Resources Center, the team includes 32 scientists from seven organizations.

“Our team’s goal is to safeguard and promote regional beef production while mitigating the environmental footprint of agriculture,” said Dave Engle, center director. “The project also includes education and Extension components to train the next generation of producers and researchers in addressing climatic effects on beef cattle.”

The southern Great Plains states are among the nation’s most important beef-producing regions. However, climate variability makes the system as a whole more vulnerable to factors such as drought, flooding and high temperatures.

In addition, producers raise their livestock using forages from rangeland, introduced perennial grasses and winter wheat. What may work best for one area of a state may not be the best choice for another part, economically or environmentally.

Another DASNR research endeavor is part of a $20 million National Science Foundation (NSF) Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research grant. It looks at how socio-ecological systems can adapt sustainably to climate variability.

“Knowledge gained will be used to educate Oklahomans about the expected consequences of regional environmental change and help individuals develop solutions to related issues,” said Jonathan Edelson, Oklahoma Agricultural Experiment Station associate director.

DASNR collaborators include Engle; agricultural economists Tracy Boyer, Jodi Campiche and Dave Shideler; soil scientist Tyson Ochsner; and natural resource ecology and management researchers Sam Fuhlendorf, Duncan Wilson and Chris Zou.

“One of the important aspects of this research will be adding to Oklahoma Mesonet data,” Engle said. “This data will expand and enhance both general climate-variability knowledge and specific decision-making capabilities made available through the Mesonet.”

The NSF award is a multi-institutional collaborative project that includes researchers from OSU, the Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation, the University of Oklahoma and the University of Tulsa.

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