The Center for Water, Earth Science, and Technology (CWEST) brings together the expertise and facilities of both the USGS and the University of Colorado (CU) to advance our understanding of the planet’s earth and hydrologic systems. The center is housed at CU’s Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research (INSTAAR).
Collaborations between CU and the USGS were aided in 1991 by the establishment of a USGS National Research Program facility on CU’s East Campus. Since then CU-USGS engagement has been growing, most recently culminating in the establishment of CWEST. Three committees –executive, research, and education– oversee the running of CWEST activities.Sustainability, Energy, and Environment Complex (SEEC) will bring together under one roof first-rate government researchers, industry experts, community members, and students and faculty from across several CU departments and institutes including INSTAAR and CWEST. In doing so, SEEC will catalyze communication, innovation, and collaboration and place CU at the forefront of understanding and addressing pressing energy and environmental challenges. SEEC’s establishment coincides with the selection of Colorado State University and CU-Boulder to manage the U.S. hub of Future Earth. This ambitious, 10-year international research initiative has the goal of mobilizing 60,000 investigators and students from around the world to better understand global environmental and societal changes and develop solutions for transitioning to a more sustainable future.
Founded in 1951, the Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research is the oldest institute at the University of Colorado at Boulder. It was started by a young plant ecologist, Dr. John Marr, interested in obtaining a better understanding of year-round processes in alpine and Arctic regions, especially during the data sparse winter. Since then, INSTAAR has grown to encompass over 225 people participating in interdisciplinary field, lab, and modeling efforts to study both paleo- and current environmental changes and processes occurring from local to global scales. INSTAAR’s research fellows, professional scientists, postdoctoral scholars, and graduate students have backgrounds in a variety of physical, biological, and even some social sciences and study a wide range of topics including Quaternary geology, ecology, biogeochemistry, landscape evolution, glaciology, and more. Although the emphasis of INSTAAR’s research is on polar and high-altitude regions, investigators conduct work on all seven continents and on the world’s oceans as well, contributing significantly to the University of Colorado’s position as one of the leading institutions conducting geoscience research in the U.S.