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ISU Has Key Role with $15 Million Grant

Idaho State University played a role in landing, and is playing a key role in carrying out, the $15 million National Science Foundation Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) grant to study climate change in Idaho.

“The state of Idaho and the three universities involved with the five-year project stand to make some important contributions to the study of climate change based on the strength of people involved, as well as the unique characteristics of the landscape we inhabit,” said Colden Baxter, Ph.D., assistant professor biology, and ISU’s lead person on the grant.

The research focus will be toward estimating impacts of future climate scenarios forecast by climate change models on water supply, biological systems and socio-economic systems of the Salmon River and Eastern Snake Plain Aquifer systems.

“Some parts of our state already have shown effects of changing climate, and much of our state, according to some climate models, is projected to be greatly affected by climate change,” Baxter continued. “There is a big red bull’s-eye on our area because it is expected to be strongly affected in various ways by changing climate.”

Von Walden, Ph.D., climatologist at University of Idaho, is the lead on the study. Baxter will be the grant’s team leader for the biological and ecological (including wildfire) impacts group. Rick Allen, Ph.D., of UI is the group leader on the water resources/hydrology focus; Sian Mooney of Boise State University is group leader for the economics and social impacts group. Among the three schools, there is a diverse team of more than 30 investigators.

Other ISU faculty involved with the grant include Drs. Matt Germino, Bruce Finney and Wayne Minshall in biological sciences and Drs. Nancy Glenn, Ben Crosby and Dan Ames in geosciences.

Idaho was able to attract the grant due in part to previous studies by ISU researchers conducted on the Salmon River Basin and on the Eastern Snake River Plain.

“Idaho has one of the largest, in tact watersheds in the Lower 48: the Salmon River Basin. It provides a window into how climate change may be affecting natural ecosystems in the West,” Baxter said. “We are particularly fortunate in that Idaho State University has decades of research that has been conducted in the Salmon River Basin that provides a long-term perspective on how it has changed and how it may be affected by climate change.”

Another geographic focal point of the study is the Eastern Snake River Plain and the Idaho National Laboratory site.

“Again, at ISU we have a long history of carrying out research on the Eastern Snake River Plain and at the INL,” Baxter said. “It is no accident we are playing a leadership role in aspects of this study.”