UW-Madison Units Partner to Provide Long Term Support for the Wisconsin State Climatology Office

UW–Madison Extension is partnering with the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies and its Center for Climatic Research (CCR) as well as the College of Letters and Science’s Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences (AOS) by providing funding to support the Wisconsin State Climatology Office (SCO) into the future. Specifically, the Division of Extension will provide long-term, full-time funding support for the Wisconsin State Climatologist, thereby making it an Extension position. The investment by Extension will build upon the existing CCR and AOS investments, and the expanded partnership by Extension, CCR, and AOS will support the SCO’s ability to continue to provide research, data, outreach, and solutions to communities across Wisconsin into the future.

The Wisconsin State Climatology Office is currently also receiving support from UW–Madison’s Rural Partnerships Institute, a research project funded by United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) – National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA). Extension’s investment will provide funding for leadership of the office and key connection points with Extension. The Wisconsin State Climatology Office will continue to receive support from CCR and AOS, making this a vibrant Extension/CCR/AOS partnership.

Extension, CCR, and AOS researchers and outreach specialists work to bring relevant climate science to farmers, natural resources and land-use planners, county and Tribal governments, and more. Creating more pathways between these communities and climate data will help support everyone in Wisconsin to be able to adapt and respond to impacts of shifting climate patterns.

“There is a clear need for climate data and interpretation that so many people are relying on,” said Steve Vavrus, the state climatologist and director of the Wisconsin State Climatology Office. “We are in a world where weather is increasingly impactful,and you can’t necessarily rely on the past to anticipate the future. We’re glad that this new cross-campus partnership will add to the value the Wisconsin State Climatology Office is providing to our state.”

Vavrus was named the Wisconsin state climatologist last September after serving as the interim director in the beginning of 2023. The Wisconsin State Climatology Office provides key pieces of information for decision-makers across Wisconsin including current and historical data, trends, and industry-specific resources. The office also partners with the Wisconsin Mesonet, a growing network of monitoring stations.

“Extension has been at the forefront of helping Wisconsin communities respond to climate shifts and the problems that result, and bringing people, governments, and businesses closer to the State Climatology Office will provide advantages for everyone,” said Karl Martin, Dean and Director of UW–Madison Extension. “We look forward to this expanded partnership with the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies, CCR and AOS and enhancing both the knowledge of climate issues and how to respond to them.”