Skip to main content

The USDA Climate Hubs: A National Resource for Climate Science, Tools, and Information

The directors of the Climate Hubs with Secretary Vilsack.
2023 USDA Climate Hub Directors Forum group photo with Secretary Vilsack.

A US Department of Agriculture (USDA) Climate Hub Directors Forum was recently held in Washington, DC. Directors of the ten national Climate Hubs came together to share lessons and accomplishments of the Climate Hub program with USDA agency and mission area leaders, and the US Secretary of Agriculture, Thomas Vilsack.

Our common goal is to reduce the risks of climate change on working lands and communities, both at regional and national levels. If you are new to the Climate Hubs, this article provides some background.

Almost Ten Years Old

The USDA Climate Hubs were established in 2014 in response to then President Obama’s Climate Action Plan. Currently, there are ten Climate Hubs strategically located in different regions of the US, including the Northwest, Southeast, Northern Forest, Midwest, Northern Plains, Southern Plains, Southwest, Northeast, California, and Caribbean. The creation of regional Hubs recognizes that climate change affects different parts of the country in distinct ways. As such, adapting to and mitigating climate change requires regionally specific approaches. For instance, what works to address drought in the Northwest may not work in the Northeast, which is grappling with the impacts of increased precipitation.

The core mission of the Climate Hubs is to develop and deliver science-based, region-specific information and technologies to enable climate-informed decision making. Each Hub is tasked with addressing the unique climate challenges and opportunities of its region, while also working with other Hubs to develop and share information nationwide. The Hubs embody a collaborative effort across various USDA mission areas and agencies, including the Forest Service, the Agricultural Research Service, the Natural Resources Conservation Service, and others, working together as “OneUSDA.”

A map of all of the Climate Hubs in the United States.
A map of all of the regional Climate Hubs in the United States.

How We Work

The Hubs operate through three Work Streams and eight Priority Areas. The Work Streams include:

  1. Science and Data Synthesis: The Hubs translate and deliver the latest climate science information relevant to our users. This includes regional risk and vulnerability assessments as well as contributions to the National Climate Assessment.
  2. Tool Development and Support: The Hubs help develop and support tools that enable climate-informed planning and decision making. So far, the Hubs have collaborated on the development of over 25 climate-based tools.
  3. Outreach, Convening, and Training: The Hubs promote engagement, discovery, and exchange of information on climate science and climate-based tools to adapt to and mitigate the effects of climate change. This involves engaging with farmers, foresters, and land managers, often going directly to where they are located. The Hubs develop products such as fact sheets, science briefs, opportunities for peer-to-peer engagements, workshops, webinars, and multimedia products. An example of this work is our Northwest Adaptation in Action profiles which highlight the climate resilience work of farmers, foresters, ranchers, and land managers implementing climate change adaptation and mitigation practices on the ground.

Within the Work Streams, the Hubs address a suite of eight Priority Areas. These include Adaptation/Resilience, Mitigation, Adaptation Plan Implementation, Wildland Fire Management/Restoration, Climate Literacy, Climate Smart Agriculture and Forestry Practices, Environmental Justice, and International Work. It’s a big task, but by working across agencies, the Hubs can leverage the combined expertise and resources of the USDA for greater impact.

A map of the Northwest Climate Hub
A map of the Northwest Climate Hub, including Alaska, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington.

Your Northwest Hub

The USDA Northwest Climate Hub includes Alaska, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington. We foster collaborations among the Forest Service, Agricultural Research Service, Natural Resource Conservation Service, Universities, non-profit organizations, and state and private partners. Our team includes a Director, Coordinator, two co-leads, five fellows, and many collaborators. Currently, we have many active projects that focus on various areas such as agriculture, forestry, agroforestry, climate education, and climate equity. To receive information about climate change in the Northwest and updates about our work, sign up for our monthly newsletter.

Closing Thoughts

In conclusion, we’re all in this together!  The USDA Climate Hubs are working at national and regional levels and leveraging the combined resources of multiple agencies within USDA to tackle the global climate crisis. Please contact our team if you have questions about the Climate Hubs or our work. Together, we can make a difference.

This content is adapted from a Northeast Climate Hub webpage.