Bringing Research and Business Together for Colorado
Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES)
U. Colorado at Boulder
216 UCB; CIRES Bldg, Room 318
Boulder, CO 80309-0216
303.492.1143 (phone)

Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences

The Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES) is a cooperative institute between NOAA and the University of Colorado that was founded in 1967. The Institute conducts research in Earth system science, which includes environmental chemistry and biology, atmospheric and climate dynamics, cryosphere (areas of snow and ice) and polar processes, and the solar-terrestrial environment. Research topics range from glacial melting and rising sea levels to hurricane forecasting. CIRES brings together government and university researchers, post docs, and students from eight university departments and several NOAA laboratories in an array of scientific collaborations and interdisciplinary research. The institute is associated with finding the hole in the ozone and being among the first to detect the disintegration of Antarctic ice shelves.

CIRES has, in recent years, increasingly aligned its research along scientific themes, rather than organizational structures, to foster a more interdisciplinary approach. These themes are:

Geodynamics Geodynamics, gaining a better understanding of (heat) convection within the Earth's mantle and of how convection affects the surface of our planet.

Regional Processes, understanding the role of climate information used in regional decisions concerning natural resources.

Climate System Variability Climate System Variability, climate changes that occur both in the short term - seasons to decades - and those that occur across millennia.
Advanced Modeling and Observing Systems Advanced Modeling and Observing Systems, characterizing and predicting the state of the Earth system on all scales using direct observations and techniques for projecting outcomes mathematically.
Planetary Metabolism Planetary Metabolism, the complex web of biochemical and ecological processes that occur within the biosphere and the interaction of these processes with the lithosphere, atmosphere, and hydrosphere.
Integrating Activitie Integrating Activities, boundary-crossing pursuits that convey CIRES' science mission to society.

CIRES is comprised of five centers that work on separate areas of research:

  1. Center for Limnology, researching inland aquatic ecosystems, such as lakes, streams, and wetlands;
  2. Center for Science and Technology Policy Research, which focuses on incorporating scientific and technological advances and research information into society;
  3. Center for the Study of Earth from Space, which uses space systems as tools for global monitoring;
  4. Climate Diagnostics Center, which employs current techniques to improve the future of climate analysis and understanding; and
  5. National Snow and Ice Data Center, which manages and collects data on sea ice, snow cover, and an inventory of glaciers to better understand the Earth system.

CIRES also has a strong commitment to science education. It offers programs for K-12 schools and districts, as well as classroom and prospective teacher professional development.

In May 2008, CIRES' National Snow and Ice Data Center was awarded a five-year $32 million contract by NASA to continue the Snow and Ice Distributed Active Archive Center (DAAC) at the University of Colorado at Boulder. The DAAC provides data and services related to sea ice, ice shelves, ice sheets, snow cover, and more.

The CIRES/Chemistry Integrated Instrument Development Facility consists of design, precision machine, electronics, and scientific glassblowing shops dedicated to the design and fabrication of scientific instrumentation. IIDF specializes in complete instrument development, from theory to testing.

Products, Patents, and Commercialization: