UM Professor Named New Head of Cooperative Research Institute

MIAMI—University of Miami (UM) Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science Professor Ben Kirtman was appointed director of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Cooperative Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Studies (CIMAS) based at the UM Rosenstiel School. CIMAS brings together the research and educational resources of ten partner universities to increase scientific understanding of Earth’s oceans and atmosphere within the context of NOAA’s mission. Kirtman will replace UM Research Professor Peter Ortner who is stepping down.

Kirtman, who has been with the Rosenstiel School for nearly 10 years, is a climate modeler who uses complex Earth system models to investigate the predictability of the climate system on time scales from days-to-decades and to study the influence of tropical variability on mid-latitude predictability. Kirtman was one of the first to develop an El Niño/La Niña prediction system using sophisticated climate models; he currently leads a team of government laboratory researchers, academicians and operational climate forecasters in developing the North American Multi-Model Ensemble (NMME) prediction system. This new prediction system has been issuing forecasts in real-time since August 2011, and was instrumental in predicting continuing La Niña conditions in the tropical Pacific and the associated impact on climate around the globe. The NMME became an official NOAA operational system on May 10, 2016.

He has authored more than 120 peer-reviewed publications and is the executive editor of the journal Climate Dynamics. He has received funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF), the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA), the Department of Energy (DOE), National Aeronautic and Space Administration (NASA), and the Office of Naval Research. Kirtman is also a Coordinating Lead Author of Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 5th Assessment Report, as well as a member of several national and international scientific panels and working groups.

The cooperative institute’s current research priorities, which include: improved hurricane forecasting, facilitating the implementation of ecosystem-based ocean management, prediction of climate on increasingly short time scales and support of the Global Ocean Observing System, are expected to continue over the next five years.

In May 2015 CIMAS received a renewed award of up to $125 million to fund the consortium’s activities over the next five years. The renewal award, and increase in funding, was based upon an “Outstanding” rating CIMAS received during the current award period’s performance review (2010-2015) by a NOAA Science Advisory Board subcommittee. Under the new cooperative agreement, Florida Institute of Technology has joined the Florida and Caribbean-based university consortium, which includes: Florida Atlantic University, Florida International University, Florida State University, Nova Southeastern University, University of Puerto Rico, University of Florida, University of South Florida and University of the Virgin Islands.

Unique new research facilities now available to NOAA through CIMAS, include the UM Rosenstiel School’s SUrge STructure Atmosphere INteraction (SUSTAIN) facility capable of simulating 3D wind-wave flow and surge produced by category 5 hurricane force winds and Nova Southeastern University’s Center of Excellence for Coral Reef Ecosystems Research.

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About the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School

The University of Miami is one of the largest private research institutions in the southeastern United States. The University’s mission is to provide quality education, attract and retain outstanding students, support the faculty and their research, and build an endowment for University initiatives. Founded in the 1940’s, the Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science has grown into one of the world’s premier marine and atmospheric research institutions. Offering dynamic interdisciplinary academics, the Rosenstiel School is dedicated to helping communities to better understand the planet, participating in the establishment of environmental policies, and aiding in the improvement of society and quality of life. For more information, visit:

Professor Ben Kirtman
Professor Ben Kirtman, new director of the Cooperative Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Studies (CIMAS) at the UM Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science.

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