Energy Department Taps Tech to Lead New Regional Climate Resilience Center


The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) recently awarded Michigan Technological University nearly $860,000 to stand up the new Center for Climate-driven Hazard Adaptation, Resilience, and Mitigation (C-CHARM). 

C-CHARM will strengthen regional climate resilience by empowering rural community planners in the Great Lakes region, providing them with vital climate data and the tools they need to better plan for climate change and increased severe weather. The new center is one of six Climate Resilience Centers (CRCs) being funded by the DOE.

“As the region’s flagship technological university, Michigan Tech is uniquely positioned in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula to provide solutions to the climate-driven challenges facing rural communities in the Great Lakes,” said Dave Reed, vice president of research at Michigan Tech. “C-CHARM will extend our long-standing history of applying cutting-edge research to address community needs, while building and strengthening relationships with local, regional and federal partners.”

Together, C-CHARM and its partners will fold climate modeling and risk assessment into a toolkit to help the Upper Peninsula’s communities make decisions during natural disaster events, such as extreme storms, flooding, landslides and sinkholes. The toolkit will also consider vulnerabilities in the energy grid and recommend possible energy transitions based on scenarios and input from communities in the Upper Peninsula.

C-CHARM brings together gathered input from communities, government and research collaborators to find common ground. The center’s leadership team includes Pengfei Xue, Ana Dyreson, Chelsea Schelly, Jenny Apriesnig and David Watkins — all Michigan Technological University faculty and members of the University’s Great Lakes Research Center (GLRC) — as well as Thomas Oommen of the University of Mississippi. 

They will be joined by collaborators from the DOE’s Argonne National Laboratory (Argonne); community partners at the Western Upper Peninsula Planning & Development Region Office; the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community; the Michigan Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Network; and the Keweenaw Economic Development Alliance.

“C-CHARM emphasizes translating research into actionable science,” said Xue, who is associate director of the GLRC, project PI and C-CHARM director. “C-CHARM centers on a co-production approach between communities, governments, research institutes and DOE national labs. We focus on linking fundamental science on climate dynamics and drivers with local needs for climate resilience to geohazards and energy system disruptions. By forging strong partnerships with local and regional governments, community champions, nonprofits, and other stakeholders, C-CHARM will ensure that its research will be used in real-world settings to benefit rural communities in the Great Lakes region.”

C-CHARM will build on recent work by the leadership team, leveraging existing Great Lakes observational and modeling capabilities funded by multiple federal agencies while promoting community-centered research. 

In particular, C-CHARM will forge an integrated technology hub by incorporating data, tools and models, including:

  • MTU’s Rural Hazard Resilience Tool (RHRT) funded by the National Science Foundation
  • Argonne’s Climate Risk & Resilience portal (ClimRR)
  • The DOE’s Coastal Observations, Mechanisms, and Predictions Across Systems and Scales-Great Lakes Modeling (COMPASS-GLM) project
  • The DOE’s Community Research on Climate and Urban Science (CROCUS) project
  • MTU’s Great Lakes-Atmosphere Regional Model (GLARM) project 
  • MTU’s Electrification in the Rural North project funded by an Alfred P. Sloan Foundation grant

Through this research, climate change modeling for the Western Upper Peninsula will be available in more detail than ever before. The enhanced detail will help community planners identify key risks, vulnerabilities and disruptions in the region in order to strategize ways to adapt and respond to a changing climate. 

“Argonne is thrilled to support C-CHARM and its focus on building community-scale resilience to climate change in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and surrounding regions,” said Rao Kotamarthi, science director of the Center for Climate Resilience and Decision Science at Argonne. “Argonne has ongoing extensive work in developing climate risk modeling datasets at appropriate spatial and time scales for community action, translating these climate risk factors and providing actionable information. This project also builds on our ongoing collaboration with Michigan Tech for the Great Lake Modeling Project supported by DOE.”


Michigan Technological University is a public research university founded in 1885 in Houghton, Michigan, and is home to more than 7,000 students from 55 countries around the world. Consistently ranked among the best universities in the country for return on investment, Michigan’s flagship technological university offers more than 120 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in science and technology, engineering, computing, forestry, business and economics, health professions, humanities, mathematics, social sciences, and the arts. The rural campus is situated just miles from Lake Superior in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, offering year-round opportunities for outdoor adventure.