Resources for the Community

The University of Arizona serves as a vast resource of public information on a variety of topics, focusing on education of earth and environmental sciences, farming and ranching in Arizona, climate and its impacts, wildfire management, renewable energy, phenology and much more.

Water Research and Planning Innovations for Dryland Systems (Water RAPIDS)

Water RAPIDS has numerous activities and projects with the aim to support and build community partnerships to increase the resilience of rural Arizona.

Projects include:

  • Conserve2Enhance, which transfers the value of citizens’ water savings to local projects
  • Environmental Flows Database, a database of environmental flow needs and responses to help water and land managers make decisions about water for riparian and aquatic species and ecosystems (in cooperation with Northern Arizona University and the Desert Landscape Conservation Cooperative)
  • Planning for the Upper Gila Watershed, which provides watershed planning tools for the Gila watershed
  • Cobre Valley Watershed Research Initiative, which helps residents to understand their water supply and infrastructure and balance their resources with current and future needs (in cooperation with the Gila County Cooperative Extension and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation)

Biosphere 2

Located just north of Tucson, the University of Arizona’s Biosphere 2 is a unique, large-scale experimental apparatus housing seven model ecosystems with active research by teams of multidisciplinary environmental scientists.

Visitors to this iconic 3-acre structure can see science in action, interact with university researchers, and have hands-on experiences with earth-systems science. Although under temporary closure due to COVID-19 concerns, the Biosphere 2 website offers virtual tours of the facility and its biomes. Biosphere 2 also coordinates with other organizations to support numerous citizen-science activities, including GLOBE at Night (measuring light pollution), and Rainlog and Rainmapper (monitoring precipitation).

TEP Partnership for Clean Energy

The University of Arizona and Tucson Electric Power have partnered to ensure that campus will use 100 percent clean energy by the end of 2020. A new agreement provides the university with affordable access to energy from two new renewable systems – the Wilmot Energy Center (solar) and the Oso Grande Wind Project near Roswell, New Mexico – for 20 years, beginning on the first day that both systems are operating.

TEP and UArizona have also teamed with solar developers to build the Solar Zone at Tech Parks Arizona, collaborate on solar and storage research and are working together to develop a carbon reduction target for TEP’s 2020 Integrated Resource Plan.

University Partnerships with Second Nature

The University of Arizona is one of 93 colleges and universities across the United States to be a charter signatory of Second Nature’s Climate Commitment, expanding our carbon neutrality work by adding resilience targets. Second Nature launched the initiative in October 2015, building on and expanding the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment (ACUPCC).

UArizona is also one of 22 members of the University Climate Change Commitment (UC3), a coalition of North American research universities that leverages relationships and expertise to accelerate local climate solutions and build community resilience. UC3 operates in close partnership with Second Nature’s Climate Leadership Network, a group of hundreds of colleges and universities that have committed to taking action on climate.

CALS Externships in Sustainability

This program matches UArizona undergraduate students with an interest in community sustainability with projects across all 15 Arizona counties. Students work full-time for 10 weeks during the summer alongside Cooperative Extension faculty and staff. Focus projects change annually based on county needs.

The 2019 projects were:

  • Local Food and Beyond - Growing the Connections in Graham County; Safford, Graham County Extension
  • Tucson Village Farm Seed to Table Program; Tucson, Pima County Extension
  • Yavapai Seed to Table Food Education; Prescott, Yavapai County Extension
  • Water Wise Rainwater Harvesting Monitoring; Sierra Vista, Cochise County Extension
  • 4-H Healthy Living and School Gardens Workshop Assistance; Sierra Vista, Cochise County Extension
  • Recharge the Rain – Project WET; Tucson, Pima County Extension

Climate Justice Network

The Climate Justice Network serves to bring people together who are concerned about climate justice. Climate justice frames climate issues as questions of social justice, raising ethical and political concerns about who drives climate change and vulnerability, who is most affected by climate change and variability, who makes decisions about responding to climate change, and how climate policy can address problems of inequality and socially just development.

By identifying the interests and expertise of students and researchers at the University of Arizona, community groups in the Southwest, and social and environmental organizations beyond, the Network serves to create a stronger and more effective community working toward climate justice. The Network also serves as a repository for information on climate justice issues to create a more informed community, with a greater ability to advocate for change.

Rangeland Management in Cooperative Extension

The division of Rangeland Management of the University of Arizona Cooperative Extension provides information on a variety of issues related to the stewardship of rangeland resources in Arizona. These rangelands include some forests and woodlands and other vegetation not usually associated with rangelands; they provide many ecosystem services including water, wildlife habitat, livestock forage, recreation, open space, and conservation of natural areas.

The Rangeland Management website includes numerous tools for range managers and ranchers, such as information and resources about ranching and land management in Arizona; drought management tools and resources for ranchers; guides, tools, data and rangeland monitoring resources; and information on rangeland ecology.

Pima County Cooperative Extension

Pima County Cooperative Extension offers a variety of programs for the general public. They include:

  • Pima Master Gardener Program: Master gardeners are university-trained volunteers who provide information on environmentally responsible gardening and landscaping to the public through a wide variety of educational and outreach activities.
  • Garden Kitchen, which offers seed-to-table gardening and cooking education, nutrition education, and physical activities. The program works with community members, organizations, and governments to deliver this programming.
  • Tucson Village Farm, a seed-to-table program designed to reconnect urban youth to a healthy food system, teach them how to grow and prepare fresh food, and empower them to make healthy life choices. 
  • Pima Smartscape, a program for landscape professionals consisting of eight workshops taught by UA faculty and local business professionals and designed to promote best landscape management practices for the urban Sonoran Desert (with Tucson Water).

National Phenology Network (USA-NPN)

USA-NPN brings together citizen scientists, government agencies, non-profit groups, educators and students of all ages to monitor the impacts of climate change on the seasonality, occurrence, and distribution of plants and animals in the United States. Its National Coordinating Office is located on the University of Arizona campus.

USA-NPN connects people to phenology by offering tools for understanding phenology, including the Nature's Notebook citizen-scientist phenology observation program; providing timely and relevant phenology data and data products; and facilitating communities of practice by linking observers, local phenology leaders, researchers, resource managers, and educators.

Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research (LTRR)

Dendrochronology, the dating and study of the annual growth ring patterns in trees, was formally founded at the University of Arizona in 1937 by the establishment of the LTRR, following 30 years of work by UArizona astronomy professor Andrew Ellicott Douglass, who first noted the correlation between tree rings and the sunspot cycle. The study of dendrochronology has only become more relevant with each passing year, with faculty and visiting scholars at the LTRR doing notable work in the areas of climate change, fire history, ecology, archaeology and hydrology.

LTRR offers free docent-led tours of the facility as well as free classes for the public on how dendrochronology has influenced forest ecology, archaeology, and climate change; investigating the prehistoric Hohokam people of Tumamoc through their middens (remains of their settlements); field classes in dendrochronology in the Santa Catalina Mountains; and cactus and perennial shrub surveying.

College of Science Lecture Series

Beginning in early Spring of each year, the College of Science presents an evening lecture series for the public on a broad theme area, which changes yearly. Past themes have explored:

  • Earth Transformed – the ongoing and growing challenges from global climate change to humans and the natural systems on which we depend.
  • The Edges of Life – including the origins of life, how life differentiates itself from its surroundings, what role self-awareness plays in maintaining life, and the discoveries regarding life that will emerge in the near future.
  • Searching for Certainty – how the scientific community works together to build consensus from evidence, mediates differences of opinion in the face of debate and ultimately establishes theory – scientific truth that grows and evolves over time.