Cooperative Institutes (CIs) are NOAA-supported, non-federal organizations that have established outstanding research and education programs in one or more areas that are relevant to the NOAA mission. A CI's expertise and facilities add significantly to NOAA's capabilities, and its structure and legal framework facilitate rapid and efficient mobilization of those resources to meet NOAA's programmatic needs. Some CIs have a thematic focus, whereas others are regional in nature.
The Cooperative Institute for the North Atlantic Region (CINAR) is a regional CI that focuses on the U.S. northeast continental shelf (NES) from Cape Hatteras to Nova Scotia—one of the world's most highly productive marine ecosystems. The structure and dynamics of the NES ecosystem are strongly influenced by local, regional, and basin-scale environmental factors and by a range of human activities including fishing, the discharge of nutrients and other pollutants, and coastal development. There is also a growing recognition of ecological, and related sociological and economic impacts from climate change and ocean acidification in the region.
CINAR is a consortium of five partner institutions that together span the region and provide the required breadth, depth and quality of scientific expertise, instrumentation, models, and facilities to address NOAA needs. Partners include the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science (UMCES), Rutgers University (RU), the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), the University of Maine (UME), and the Gulf of Maine Research Institute (GMRI). The CINAR Program Office is located at WHOI.
The fundamental philosophy of operations for CINAR is to conduct research that meets the needs of NOAA managers and that provides important information and tools for decision-making within the NES ecosystem. Two of NOAA’s four mission goals are to "protect, restore, and manage the use of coastal and ocean resources through an ecosystem approach to management," and to "understand climate variability and change to enhance society's ability to plan and respond." CINAR was thus formulated with explicit recognition that effective management of human activities in the northeast region requires understanding how these activities interact with each other and with other processes that affect the ecosystem, including climate. Activities fall under six research themes: Ecosystem Forecasting, Ecosystem Monitoring, Ecosystem Management, Protection and Restoration of Resources, Sustained Ocean Observations and Climate Research and Education and Outreach.