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  4. Earth Systems Science Technology Center

Earth Systems Science Technology Center

In December of 2023 the Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) launched the Earth System Science Technology Center (ESS-TC). The Center supports an integrated response to threats from climate change, extreme weather, environmental pollution, global diseases and other interactions between human and earth systems. It offers new and complementary science capabilities to DHS and is unique in the federal government for applying Earth system science (ESS) directly to national security issues.

Focus Areas

Worldwide Developments in ESS and Climate Innovations - We monitor worldwide developments in ESS—and climate technologies and innovations more broadly—to fully understand new opportunities for U.S. adversaries to misappropriate those developments for offensive use and to enable the United States to harvest them for strategic use.

Earth System Monitoring and Detection Capabilities - We support homeland resiliency by identifying, leveraging, and developing capabilities that can quickly detect and identify any potential first-, second-, and third-order effects of climate change and extreme weather risks.

Disaster Adaptation and Resilience Capabilities - We support homeland resiliency by identifying, leveraging, and developing capabilities for enhanced adaptation to and resilience from disasters.

  • U.S. Global Change Research Program - In 2023, DHS formally joined the US Global Change Research Program (USGCRP). S&T’s role, as DHS’s scientific representative, involves bridging the gap between scientific research and practical applications for homeland security. Through ongoing collaboration and coordination for efforts such as the National Climate Assessment, National Nature Assessment, the Subcommittee on Global Change Research, and more, S&T gains access to, and provides insight on, cutting-edge climate science and data, allowing the development of technology-driven solutions to tackle climate-related challenges. 

    “To address the evolving challenges we face, we are constantly looking to build greater cohesion both within the federal government and outside of it. DHS’s membership on the USGCRP is part of that critical effort and supports our enduring mission to safeguard the homeland.” - Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas 

    Learn more about the USGCRP.
  • Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) with the Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae) - S&T signed a (CRADA) with Fannie Mae to carry out collaborative research related to flood insurance in support of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Federal Insurance and Mitigation Administration. S&T and Fannie Mae will conduct joint research to identify ways to expand the use of flood insurance to reduce the financial losses suffered by homeowners and creditors in future storms.  

    “By examining correlations between insurance perils and federal assistance programs aimed at closing insurance gaps, S&T and Fannie Mae’s partnership will help strengthen community resilience. S&T will also leverage this research as we consider current and future strategic priorities to enhance our nation’s climate and flood resilience.” -David Alexander, S&T Senior Science Advisor for Resilience.
  • S&T partners with the Homeland Security Systems Engineering and Development Institute on Climate Change Interventions Research, providing independent and objective systems engineering expertise to:
    • Identify climate change interventions that might have consequences (both intended and unintended) to the DHS strategic priorities, operations, and components.
    • Better understand the nature of the intervention with respect to emerging threats and the vulnerabilities associated with aspects of DHS mission sets; and assess the impacts and develop a repeatable assessment process of climate change intervention technologies, policies, or procedures.

The Earth System Science Technology Center is supporting S&T’s industry partnerships to promote sustainability research and public safety, including:

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    Clean Power for Hours Prize Challenge
    Clean Power Prize CompetitionLaunched in celebration of Earth Day 2023, the competition is the second in a series on national climate resilience and is part of a DHS-wide effort to address the risks posed by climate change.

    “The speed with which technology is advancing provides opportunities to increase our effectiveness through innovation. Harnessing the benefits offered by these advances is particularly important to our work during emergencies when it is imperative that our critical infrastructure remains functional and can serve our communities. The Clean Power for Hours Challenge opens a door for the creative and innovative minds of our nation to submit clean energy solutions that will effectively support communities in times of need.” - Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas.
  • CIVIC Innovation Challenge. S&T is partnering with the National Science Foundation and U.S. Department of Energy to launch CIVIC Innovation Challenge 2022 (CIC 2022), the current round of the Civic Innovation Challenge. In the face of mounting pressures brought by changes in the climate and disparities within vulnerable populations, CIC 2022 aims to equip community leaders with real-world solutions that bolster pre-disaster readiness, enhance climate adaption and mitigation, and increase access to essential resources and services.
Last Updated: 03/05/2024
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