Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences

Areas of Research

CIRES researchers use time-honored and cutting-edge approaches to study diverse aspects of Earth system science, with a focus on research that is “use-inspired.” That is, CIRES science seeks to improve fundamental understanding of the changing world and to produce applications that are useful and used by decision makers, educators, the private sector, and others.

CIRES researchers are global leaders in all aspects of atmospheric science, monitoring the ozone layer, dissecting the intricacies of tropospheric dynamics, determining drivers of regional air quality challenges, and more.

Understanding the living planet is imperative to understanding the entire Earth system. From micro to macro, biological and ecosystems science at CIRES explores the living Earth, with a focus on forests and freshwater.

Chemists at CIRES endeavor to understand complex chemical systems by exploring the atmosphere, the soil, and aquatic environments, with state-of-the-art laboratory, model, and field-based techniques.

In one way or another, most CIRES scientists work to advance our understanding of the processes that drive weather and climate, improving forecasts at many scales, from hourly icing potential to wind energy predictions and long-term climate change.

The Arctic and Antarctic are unique test beds for understanding the planet. CIRES researchers seek to gain insight about the role of the polar regions in pacing and responding to global processes, including anthropogenic climate change.

CIRES scientists study energy production’s “shadow,” the cascading impacts on air, water, and land resources; and we also seek to understand the environment in ways that can help improve energy production. 

The ocean is the heartbeat of the planet, moving heat and energy around, creating and responding to unique climate regimes. CIRES researchers probe critical questions related to the ocean and its relationship with weather and climate.

Science policy is at the heart of the CIRES mission of bridging science and society. Policy researchers at CIRES seek to understand the role of science in decision-making, to open communication between scientists and decision makers.

CIRES researchers observe and explore all components of the solid Earth—core, mantle, and crust—to improve our understanding of the geophysical fundamentals of the sub-surface, and identify geological hazards that pose challenges to society.

CIRES researchers explore the space environment and the Sun-Earth system. CIRES scientists also use space-based remote sensing to enhance the understanding of the Earth environment, from the oceans to the atmosphere.

Studying the physical processes affecting surface water, identifying the connections between sea level rise and coastal resilience, assessing the role of water policy in resilience, and more, CIRES researchers are national leaders in water resource issues.