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ANL Analyzes Climate Change Effects at Local and Regional Scales

The US Department of Energy (DOE) has given Argonne National Laboratory $25 million over five years to work with a group of academic and community leaders to promote urban climate science by examining the impacts of climate change at the local and regional levels. The findings of this new study will help communities build resilience to climate change’s potential future effects.

ANL Analyzes Climate Change Effects at Local and Regional Scales

CROCUS will conduct neighborhood-scale climate research. Image Credit: Argonne National Laboratory.

Community Research on Climate and Urban Science (CROCUS), a lab run by Argonne and collaborators, will be established with a focus on the Chicago area. To ensure that the study's findings directly assist locals, CROCUS will consult the community to choose the issues and particular aspects of urban climate change to investigate. Researchers from CROCUS will collaborate with organizations and students to gather data locally and create climate models.

Chicago is already undergoing climate change-related disruptions in the form of extreme weather, flooding, droughts, and heat waves, similar to other American cities. The neighborhoods at risk for climate-related disasters have historically been understudied and unable to access the resources or services they require. To establish its research objectives, CROCUS has substantial representation from regional organizations.

Researchers will take temperature, precipitation, and soil conditions readings in Chicago. They will examine how trees shape the city’s climate, open areas, buildings, expressways, and Lake Michigan, as well as how the Chicago region affects regional climate.

Additionally, the study will develop more precise climate models to identify the effects of climate change on specific individuals because no two communities are comparable.

Scientists can forecast how the climate will change on a much smaller scale, even down to street level, rather than looking at the climate of the entire region or city as a whole. This will assist communities in identifying and evaluating ideas that will increase the resilience of their neighborhoods to the consequences of climate change.

The Chicagoland area provides a rich environment for study and we are excited to work with such a diverse group of community, research and educational partners. The climate here is noticeably changing.

Cristina Negri, Director, Environmental Sciences Division, Argonne National Laboratory

Cristina Negri, the CROCUS lead says, “Through CROCUS, we can all join forces to understand the underlying processes and provide science-based information. This will help local planners enact solutions leading to an equitable and effective transition to a resilient and carbon-efficient future for all communities.”

The core of CROCUS’s activity in Chicago is collaboration. The next generation of climate and environmental researchers will be recruited and trained through partnerships between Argonne and local, regional, and national colleges and institutions.

The CROCUS partnership, which addresses the underrepresentation of persons of color in this field of research, includes historically black schools and universities. Academic partners of CROCUS include:

  • City Colleges of Chicago
  • Chicago State University
  • North Carolina A&T State University
  • Northeastern Illinois University
  • Northwestern University
  • University of Illinois at Chicago
  • University of Chicago
  • University of Notre Dame
  • University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
  • University of Texas-Austin
  • University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • Washington University-St. Louis.

Community-based organizations on Chicago’s South and West Sides are a part of the research team because this study focuses on climate change at the neighborhood level.

By enabling community people to express their needs and concerns, this special relationship will enable academics to give crucial information to communities as they make the switch to clean energy and environmentally friendly infrastructure. Community partners include:

  • Blacks in Green (Woodlawn)
  • Puerto Rican Agenda (Humboldt Park)
  • Greater Chatham Initiative (Chatham)
  • Metropolitan Mayors Caucus (Chicago metropolitan area)

Although Chicago is the focus of this study, the fresh perspectives and lessons discovered will aid academics in developing a model to help other cities around the nation and the globe as they strive to become climate change resilient.

If we understand how climate and urban systems interact at increasingly detailed scales, we can address the challenge in a fair, equitable and sustainable way. By advancing the science, we can help neighborhoods, governments and communities envision a climate-ready future. We’re all in this together.

Cristina Negri, Director, Environmental Sciences Division, Argonne National Laboratory

The DOE’s Office of Science’s Biological and Environmental Research program provides funding for CROCUS.


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