Patrick Proposes State Climatologist Position to be Based on Campus

A new state climatologist position to be housed at the campus-based Northeast Climate Science Center was proposed this week by Gov. Deval Patrick as he announced a $50 million initiative aimed at climate change preparedness.

The idea for a state climatologist was first developed by Steve Goodwin, dean of the College of Natural Sciences, and Mike Malone, vice chancellor for Research and Engagement, according to Chris Dunn, executive director of Public and Constituent Relations. Goodwin and Dunn pitched the proposal to state Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs Richard K. Sullivan and the idea was incorporated into the governor’s Jan. 14 announcement.

Patrick is expected to file a bill creating and funding the post, which requires legislative approval. It is expected that funding for the climatologist would be about $100,000 per year, with the cost shared by the campus and the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs. The chancellor and the EEA secretary will make the appointment, which carries a five-year term.

If the post is approved, the climatologist will advise state government and municipalities on the implications of climate change and serve as a liaison with federal and state agencies and academic institutions. The climatologist will also be responsible for collecting data on climate conditions in the state, conducting and fostering research, identifying opportunities for sponsored research on climate issues, and leading statewide efforts to educate and inform the public about climate-related matters.

Dunn noted that Connecticut, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine and New Jersey have state climatologists who are housed at their state universities.