The Climate Center

The Climate Center was established with an endowment from the Vetlesen Foundation.

The Foundation's wish is to promote climate research at Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory and NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies by providing seed money for research projects geared to exploring various climate issues.

The money is used for four purposes, with the vast majority of available funds* going to:

1. Start-up research projects aimed at leveraging government-sponsored research grants. For a list of projects funded, email us.

Depending on the availability of funds*, additional purposes include:

2. To fund visits by prominent scientists.
3. To fund mini-conferences at Lamont.
4. To fund ~2 students in the undergraduate research project for the Earth Intern program.
 
*Available funds vary from fiscal year to fiscal year depending on the dividends earned from the original principal.

Committee Members
Braddock Linsley (Chair)
William D'Andrea
Jennifer Middleton
Kirsty Tinto
Nicolás Young

If you need assistance or have questions, please email us. Our Administrator Mercedes Paulino will refer your communication to the Committee Chair and other committee members as needed.

Each semester, the Climate Center funds a visit by a prominent scientist whose expertise is in climate-related research to spend one week with the LDEO and GISS science communities. Nominations are generally submitted during the bi-annual RFPs to the Climate Center Committee via the Administrator, Mercedes Paulino, at [email protected].

Nominations should include:
1. Justification for Nomination 
2. Curriculum Vitae
3. List of Significant Publications
4. Possible Dates for the Visit

Any member of the LDEO and GISS science committee may submit a nomination.  The Climate Center Committee members render a decision within one to two weeks of receiving the nomination. 

Format of Visit
Climate Center Lecturers are expected to give a series of lectures in their area(s) of expertise and meet with the scientific staff of Lamont and GISS for discussions.

1. The lecturer is in residence at LDEO and/or GISS for approximately one week.

2. The lecturer gives three talks (two are at LDEO):

  • Lecture #1 is considered a "general" seminar
  • Lecture #2 has a topic which is "esoteric"
  • Lecture #3 (at NASA GISS/Goddard Institute of Space Studies) should be geared towards the GISS audience who are mostly modelers

3. There is a wine and cheese reception immediately after Lecture #1 to introduce the lecturer to the LDEO/GISS scientific groups.

4. The lecturer is expected to meet with the LDEO and GISS scientific staff (including postdocs and graduate students) for lively discussions and group meals. The lecturer is, of course, welcome to request to meet with anyone at LDEO or GISS.

The nominator is expected to serve as the host for the lecturer.  As host, you are expected to acquire office space for the lecturer, to schedule meetings with the science staff, and to arrange group meals, which the Climate Center will reimburse.

Travel Reimbursement and Honorarium
All travel expenses for the lecturer will be reimbursed. As a thank you, the Climate Center gives an honorarium of $1,700 USD to lecturers.

1. What is the format for the proposals?
Please download and use our Climate Center proposal template, which includes:

  • TITLE
  • PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR AND CO-INVESTIGATORS (please list NAME[S], AFFILIATION[S] and TITLE[S])
  • ABSTRACT
  • PROPOSED RESEARCH (including FIGURES, TABLES, ETC.)
  • ITEMIZED BUDGET (excluding 10% Administrative Fee)
  • Please indicate if your project might be appropriate for an UNDERGRADUATE SUMMER INTERN (Fall RFP only)
  • REFERENCES
  • List of PRIOR CLIMATE CENTER PROPOSALS AND RESULTS (this section is not included in the three-page limit in order to provide enough space for the results)
  • The proposal should be no longer than 3 pages (including FIGURES, TABLES, ETC.) plus the 1 page Excel budget sheet, plus results from prior Climate Center support (no page limit), have 1-inch margins on all 4 sides and font should be 11pt or larger.

2. Should I include a budget?
An itemized budget not to exceed $10,000 is required with each proposal and is part of the page limit. Although the administrative fee is exclusive of the $10,000 budget limit, please include fringe for salaries.

3. Should I include ICR (overhead) in the budget?
Although Climate Center Awards do not have the standard LDEO ICR fee of 53%, there is an administrative charge of 10% on Climate Center Awards. Do not add the administrative fee to your budget; it will be added automatically to the award.

4. How often do you accept proposals?
The RFP is twice a year, however, we will consider a proposal request outside of the two RFPs if it is time-sensitive. A very strong argument needs to be made though in the application.

5. When are the proposal deadlines?
The last business day of the RFP month.

6. What type of proposals do you accept?
Proposals MUST BE geared to climate research and usually fund one of these five categories: 

  • Start-up research projects
  • Climate Center visitors to LDEO and GISS
  • Mini-conferences
  • Undergraduate research

7. What are unallowable expenses in the proposal's budget?
Salaries for PIs or administrative support, travel funds for off-campus meetings, and computers (unless instrumental for the project). The only salary that is allowed is for technicians, research assistants, undergraduates, or graduate students (summer salary).

8. May I submit proposals outside of the two RFPs?
Yes, you may if there is a time constraint or it is a serendipitous opportunity.

9. Who may submit a proposal to the Climate Center?
Any LDEO or GISS scientific staff member: senior and junior scientists, technicians, postdocs, undergrad students, and graduate research assistants. Students cannot be lead on proposals.

10. Who are the members on the Climate Center Committee?
See the list above.

11. Where does the money come from?
The Vetlesen Foundation

12. How many proposals may I submit during each RFP or during the year?
No more than TWO proposals per RFP following these guidelines:

  • A PI cannot be the lead PI on more than one proposal submission per RFP.
  • A PI cannot be a co-PI on more than two proposal submissions per RFP.

If a PI submits more than one proposal per RFP as lead PI or more than two proposals as co-PI/lead PI, then the PI will be asked to withdraw all but the allowed one or two submissions.

13. If my proposal is accepted, how do I access the awarded funds?
You will receive notification that a new account will be created for you once you have submitted an abstract for your submission.

14. What happens to the remaining funds once the project is completed?
Remaining funds are to be returned to the Climate Center pool of money.

15. Why do I have to submit a "progress" report?
To provide information to the Vetlesen Foundation regarding their goal of promoting climate research through their million dollar endowment.

16. What is the Climate Center Lecturer?
A lecturer in climate studies who spends a week at LDEO and GISS meeting and collaborating with the scientific staff. The lecturer gives two presentations at LDEO, and one at GISS (one geared towards a general audience, the second on an esoteric topic, and a seminar at GISS geared towards modelers). Travel support and an honorarium of $1,700 USD are given to the lecturer.

17. Who may nominate a Climate Center Lecturer?
Any member of the LDEO or GISS scientific staff may do so.

18. Is the LDEO Climate Center the same as the Center for Climate Systems Research?
No, they are two distinct entities. Please contact Dr. Cynthia Rosenzweig (+1-212-678-5562) for information regarding the Center for Climate Systems Research.

The Climate Center was established with an endowment from the Vetlesen Foundation.

It is the Foundation's wish to promote climate research at Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory and NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies by providing seed money for research projects geared to exploring various climate issues. Learn more about the history of the Climate Center.

The Climate Center Committee requests proposal submissions for climate-related research projects twice a year. The deadline for the current RFP is 5pm on April 29, 2022. Proposals are submitted at other times of the year, but are the rare exception and require a strong justification for the submission date.

Please read the Climate Center guidelines before applying for an award. All recipients will need to sign an acknowledgement form before accepting the funds.

The Climate Center provides money for the following four major purposes:
1. To fund start-up research projects aimed at leveraging government- sponsored research grants. For a list of projects funded, email us.
2. To fund visits by prominent scientists depending on the availability of funds. (Not until campus is at 100% capacity)
3. To fund mini-conferences at Lamont depending on the availability of funds.
4. To fund ~2 students in the undergraduate research project for the Earth Intern program depending on the availability of funds.
 
The vast majority of available funds go to start-up research projects (#1 above).

General guidelines for proposal submission for purpose 2 above, the Climate Center Lecturer (not until campus is at 100% capacity):
Please submit the name, affiliation, curriculum vitae, and contact information of a proposed Climate Center Lecturer. Add a short paragraph supporting your choice.

General guidelines for proposal submission for purposes 1 and 3 above:

  • Electronic submission of proposals is preferred (in either Adobe PDF and/or Microsoft Word formats).
  • Please download and use this proposal template. [link to PDF]
  • Page limit: 3 pages maximum (inclusive of text, budget, figures, tables, etc.) plus up to one page of results from prior support.
  • Font size: ≥ 11-point Arial, Helvetica, Georgia, or Times New Roman fonts.
  • Margins: 1-inch on all four sides.
  • Itemized Budget ≤ $10,000 exclusive of overhead charges or administrative fees.

Please include the following in your Climate Center proposal:

  • TITLE
  • PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR AND CO-INVESTIGATORS (please list NAME[S], AFFILIATION[S], and TITLE[S])
  • ABSTRACT
  • PROPOSED RESEARCH (including FIGURES, TABLES, ETC.)
  • ITEMIZED BUDGET (excluding 10% Administrative Fee). Please use the budget template for submission. Send the file separately and not embedded in your proposal.
  • REFERENCES (References are NOT included in the 3-page limit).
  • List of all PRIOR CLIMATE CENTER PROPOSALS AND RESULTS. Please list the previous grant title, the Principal Investigators, when the grant was funded, and for how much. Also include 2-3 sentences about your results and what they were. List any publications, non-Climate Center funding awarded, and any other information that directly relates to your prior Climate Center funding.

Please note the following:
1. Read the FAQs (above) and guidelines before proposal submission.
2. A single PI cannot be the lead PI on more than one proposal submission per RFP.
3. An individual PI cannot be a co-PI or lead PI on more than two proposal submissions per RFP. 

  • If a PI submits more than one proposal per RFP as lead PI or more than two proposals as co-PI/lead PI, then the PI will be asked to withdraw all but the allowed one or two submissions. 
  • Students cannot be lead.

4. Please list affiliations and titles for all PIs.
5. Budgets (excluding the 10% Administrative Fee) cannot exceed $10,000, and must include fringe when paying salary.
6. Unallowable expenses are: Salaries for PIs or administrative assistance except for technicians, CU undergraduate, or CU graduate students (summer salary; travel expenses for off-campus meetings; and computers (unless instrumental for the project).
7. Only proposals where time is of the essence (i.e., you are presented with an unexpected, serendipitous opportunity to perform research) will be considered outside of the regular RFPs.

The deadline for receipt of proposals is a FIRM DEADLINE and must be received by the Administrator, Mercedes Paulino via email by 5 pm of the due date.

The Climate Center Committee usually renders its decision within two to four weeks after the deadline.