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NOAA Names the University of Maryland to Host Cooperative Institute for Satellite Earth System Studies

June 5, 2019


The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced it has selected the University of Maryland in College Park, Maryland, to host NOAA’s cooperative institute focused on improving our understanding of how the atmosphere, ocean, land, and biosphere of Earth interact with each other and with human activity as an integrated system.

Image at NESDIS
Cooperative Institute researchers are developing methods to improve precipitation measurements from space. Shown above is the satellite estimate of rain rate (mm/h) from the Microwave Integrated Retrieval System (MiRS) around Tropical Storm Hermine 1 September 2016 (left), and the Stage IV radar-gauge analysis (right). MiRS is an enterprise approach that is suitable for all microwave sensors.


The Cooperative Institute for Satellite Earth System Studies (CISESS, pronounced See-siss) is a national consortium of academic and nonprofit institutions, with leadership from the University of Maryland College Park (UMD) and North Carolina State University. In the Maryland/Washington DC area, CISESS offices will be located within the UMD research campus, adjacent to the NOAA Center for Weather and Climate Prediction. In Asheville, North Carolina, CISESS will be co-located with NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information. There are 16 academic and four non-academic partners in the consortium.

In addition to UMD and NC State, the consortium partners are the University of North Carolina System (17 campuses, including NCSU); the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC); the University of Alabama (UA); the University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH); the City University of New York (CUNY); George Mason University (GMU); Oregon State University (OSU); Howard University (HU); the University of Michigan (UM); the University of South Carolina (USC); the University of Georgia (UGA); the University of California, Irvine (UCI); South Dakota State University (SDSU); Florida International University (FIU); and the University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC) as academic institutions. Nonacademic institutions of the CISESS Consortium are the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR), The Nature Conservancy (TNC), and the Research Triangle Institute (RTI).

In cooperation with NOAA, CISESS will coordinate with other academic partners on innovative research that aligns with priorities of NOAA’s National Environmental Satellite and Information Service (NESDIS) and National Weather Service. CISESS will contribute through better analysis and integration of satellite observations from NOAA and partner satellites, thereby improving our understanding and prediction of the global Earth System. It will provide the capabilities and expertise to improve systems for data access, quality, management, processing, analysis, assimilation, modeling, dissemination, visualization and stewardship. CISESS will help apply advances in high performance computing, artificial intelligence, virtual reality, and social sciences to NOAA’s mission as well as continue support for satellite calibration, algorithm development and maintaining long-term data records from satellites and in-situ measurements.

The selection comes with an award of up to $175 million over five years, with the potential for renewal for another five years based on successful performance. NOAA made the selection after an open, competitive evaluation. The new cooperative institute continues the heritage of the Cooperative Institute for Climate Studies that was first created as a NOAA cooperative institute in 1984, renamed to the Cooperative Institute for Climate and Satellites in 2009.

“NOAA’s cooperative institutes add value to our ongoing efforts to observe and understand the complex dynamics of the Earth’s physical and biological systems, and from that understanding to predict the weather and climate challenges facing the planet,” said Stephen Volz, Ph. D, director of NOAA’s Satellite and Information Service. “We look forward to the great work NOAA and CISESS will accomplish together on these critical national environmental issues facing the nation.”

NOAA supports 16 Cooperative Institutes consisting of 43 universities and research institutions in 20 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands. In addition to addressing the essential mission needs for NOAA, these research institutions also provide strong educational programs that promote student and postdoctoral scientist involvement in NOAA-funded research.

For more information, please contact John Leslie, NOAA's Office of Communications for Satellites, at