The Southwest Climate Adaptation Science Center (SW CASC) is one of eight regional Climate Adaptation Science Centers under the Department of the Interior (DOI) managed by the U.S. Geological Survey's (USGS) National Climate Adaptation Science Center (NCASC). The SW CASC is a collaborative partnership between USGS and a consortium of seven academic institutions from across the region:

-University of Arizona (Host Institution)

-Colorado State University

-Desert Research Institute

-Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego

-University of California, Davis

-University of California, Los Angeles

-Utah State University



-To foster and support the highest quality climate and biological sciences research by connecting the scientific strengths of the USGS with those of the SWCASC partner institutions.

-To coordinate and collaborate with users and other providers of climate information to ensure that the research pursued by CASC-affiliated scientists results in tools, techniques, models, and actionable information to facilitate robust decision-making by resource managers, policy makers, and other stakeholders.

-To build enduring relationships with stakeholders that enable meaningful collaboration, clear communication, and effective translation of scientific results.


The Southwest region formally comprises the states of Arizona, California, Nevada, and Utah. However, because the Southwest is heavily dependent on the Colorado River Basin, the SW CASC also addresses the upper Colorado River basin, particularly with respect to direct and indirect effects of climate change and management on water delivery to the lower basin. 

Southwest Climate Adaptation Science Center Regional Map



On September 14, 2009, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar signed Secretarial Order 3289 titled, “Addressing the Impacts of Climate Change on America’s Water, Land, and Other Natural and Cultural Resources.” The order established eight Climate Science Centers across the continental United States, Alaska, and the Pacific Islands and their managing center for the purpose of integrating DOI science and management expertise with expertise from academic institutions to support strategic adaptation efforts on public and private lands across the United States. The order also established the LCCs that, along with the CSCs, would help define and implement DOI’s climate adaptation response.

Pursuant to the secretarial order, the SW CSC was established in 2011. The CSCs were renamed Climate Adaptation Science Centers(CASCs) in 2018.


The mission of the SW CASC is to work with natural and cultural resource managers to develop and deliver scientific information and techniques to anticipate, monitor, and adapt to climate change in the southwestern United States.

The science activities undertaken by the SW CASC are informed primarily by the Strategic Science Agenda and the Science Workplans. The Strategic Science Agenda articulates general science objectives, staffing needs, and operating principles for the SW CASC over a five-year period that started in 2013. The Science Workplans detail the specific research priorities and planned actions for the SW CASC during the funding year. The development of the SW CASC’s strategic direction is guided by its Advisory Committee (AC) which is comprised of representatives from federal and state resource-management agencies and tribes.