Developed and Advocated by the Predictability, Predictions
and Applications Interface (PPAI) Panel of US CLIVAR
The goal of this postdoctoral program is to grow the pool of scientists qualified to transfer advances in climate science and climate prediction into climate-related decision framework(s) and decision tools.
Demand for research and guidance in climate-related risk management and decision-making has increased in recent years. This is due in part to the work of those involved in the NOAA RISA (Regional Integrated Sciences and Assessments) program and to the efforts of a relatively small group of scientists incorporating stakeholder interaction into their research. A growing number of people and institutions are emerging to work at this interface, but demand for these people exceeds supply. Demand also stems from constant advances within climate science, including better understanding of predictability, better prediction ability, higher resolution of prediction products, and greater climate awareness. These scientific advances make concerted efforts at the applications interface all the more imperative, since individuals are needed who understand both climate science and needs of decision-makers. Increasing interest from communities that engage in decision support and risk/disaster management makes this an opportune time to launch a postdoctoral program aimed at this demand. Wide societal interest also broadens the base from which potential candidates could be recruited. One approach to grow the pool of climate scientists who can work effectively at the climate-society boundary is to encourage talented recent PhDs with expertise in climate science to work directly with institutions engaged in climate-related risk management and decision-making. This developing body of professionals will simultaneously be scientifically and technically capable in climate sciences and possess an understanding of the needs and issues that affect climate-related sectoral decisions. All participants will inevitably gain new perspectives on the opportunities and limitations of incorporating climate information into decisions. This program offers a process for recruiting and training individuals with a focus on practical experience, and offers the prestige that comes from a participation in a nationally recognized and coordinated program.
Institutional Collaboration & Setting
It is envisioned that the postdoc will be jointly affiliated, with supervision shared between two institutions: an institution that contributes expertise on climate research (“Climate Research Institution”, hereafter CR partner) and an institution responsible for, or strongly linked to, decision making or risk management influenced by climate variability and/or change (“Decision Making Institution”, hereafter DM partner). Maximum interaction with the DM partner is necessary if the project is to truly benefit that institution. The postdoctoral scientist will require mentorship from both the CR partner and the DM partner to most effectively bring advances in climate science to bear in a DM environment.
Climate Research Institutions: The CR partner should be involved in the development, production and application of climate information. Examples of such institutions include, but are not limited to, universities tied to the RISAs, Regional Climate Centers, and federal research facilities. Participation in this program provides the opportunity to conduct scientific climate research on topics that include observational studies, short- to long-term climate forecasts, and decision or verification systems design relevant to a specific societal need. More importantly, the collaborative structure of the program enables application of that research in a real world setting, with the potential to influence future operational practices.
Decision Making Institutions: The DM partner is involved in climate-related risk management and decision-making or linked directly to agencies that are. Examples include national-, regional-, state-, or municipal-level agencies and organizations (public and non-profit) that manage or regulate natural resources, prepare for natural disasters, or prevent or reduce the impacts of public health emergencies. Areas of study may include water resource management, ecosystems, coastal risk management, hydrometeorological disasters, public health, and energy. Participation in PACE allows these institutions to engage fresh intellectual capacity from the climate community to work on problems relevant to their operations/decision making. Such collaborative work strengthens bridges between the institutions through focused personal collaboration.
The CR/DM Partners currently involved in the program jointly determine the thematic areas listed in the annual program announcements, and thus they may change each year. Examples include water, agriculture, ecosystems, coastal risk management, hydrometeorological disasters, and energy.
Application and Progress Reporting Process
There are two timelines and processes, one for the institutional CR/DM Partners and one for the postdoctoral candidates.
Institutional CR/DM Partners timeline: Institutional CR/DM Partners timeline: Interested CR/DM partners can
apply to participate in the program through an open Announcement of
Opportunity (AO). The CR and DM Partners will develop joint 3-page
statements of intent and submit these to the Steering Committee. The
Steering Committee reviews these submissions as they are received. Those
CR/DM chosen to participate prior to mid-January, when the short-list of
postdoctoral candidates is produced, will be eligible recipients for one
of the candidates chosen in that year.
Postdoctoral timeline: An AO for postdoctoral candidates will be released in mid-late September. A postdoctoral letter of intent (to include thesis information, relevant skills, and letters of reference) will be due by mid-December. Applications will be evaluated, selected, and candidates notified in mid-January to submit a project description to a specific participating CR/DM Partner, using contact information provided by the UCAR/VSP. The project descriptions will be due in mid-March. Candidates are encouraged to contact the CR/DM partners during the process of writing their project descriptions. All candidates will be notified of their status by early April. The postdoctoral appointments may begin any time between April and October.
Tenure: Appointments are nominally for 2 years, with the second year contingent upon satisfactory progress during the first year.
- A progress report will be due approximately 9 months into the appointment to determine if a second year of funding is appropriate. Evaluations by supervisors at both the CR partner and DM partner should accompany the progress report.
- The postdoctoral researcher will present the results of their work and methods involved in a special session of an annual meeting, such as the NOAA Climate Prediction Applications Science Workshop (CPASW).
- Other desirable means of reporting progress on individual projects or the program as a whole could involve articles in venues such as EOS or BAMS. Additionally an overview of the postdocs’ activities each year compiled by the Steering Committee will appear in an issue of the US CLIVAR Variations.
- Final reports by CR partner, DM partner, and postdoc should discuss success and value of their experience with the program and outcome(s) of the project, with reviewed articles encouraged.
Program administration: UCAR will manage the PACE Fellowship Program. A Steering Committee is responsible for scoping the participating institutions and funding agencies, vetting the postdoctoral applicant pool, participating in the proposal and progress review process, and promoting the program, as appropriate.
Funding: Half of the postdoctoral researcher’s expense is supported by national climate research funding agencies (NOAA), and half from the DM partner with whom the postdoc will be working. We believe that it is very important to have explicit buy-in by the DM partner to ensure their active and interested participation in the project. The CR partner will provide computing, phone and email, publication fees, and office space. NOAA’s Climate Program Office has committed support for initiation of this program, and discussions are ongoing with other agencies and institutions for additional support.
Budget: Costs for the support of one-half of a postdoc fellowship for one year include the salary and benefits of the postdoc. Other costs include relocation travel, scientific travel allowance, and UCAR administrative support and overheads. Please contact Julie Cross (303) 497-8634, or e-mail email@example.com with questions re: financial details.
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