Our Research

What is CROCUS studying?
Working with community leaders, we are working to understand how the city influences it regional climate, identifying the most significant climate concerns and using this information to evaluate different mitigation and adaptation technologies and scenarios. This enables the understanding of the impact of decisions related to these on climate and communities.
Why focus on Chicago or urban areas?
Chicago’s location and history create the perfect storm of opportunity to understand how climate impacts cities and how cities influence their regional climate. The city was built on what was once swampland and is positioned between Lake Michigan and agricultural lands. The Chicago metro area is also a global hub for transportation and manufacturing and is home to nearly 9 million people. Chicago’s neighborhoods are different and unique. CROCUS will use cutting-edge data-gathering technology, artificial intelligence, supercomputers, and input from local stakeholders to understand the interplay between climate and this diverse and dynamic urban environment.
Could outcomes or results of this work be applicable to other urban areas?
Yes. While every city has their own landscape and micro-climate, Argonne and our partners will develop the basic understanding of the main drivers of these differences. While the system level knowledge we will generate will be unique to this region, the location of the CROCUS offers the potential for extension of much of this knowledge to the entire central US and Great Lakes Region and will serve as a blueprint for creating system-level knowledge elsewhere. The wide variety of climate-related hazards in our proposed region are applicable across most of the US. We’ll explore how global and regional climate change influences urban heat islands and infrastructure and increases stresses to people and the environment.
When will the project start?
CROCUS has already started. In year 1, CROCUS partners will finalize the research plan, begin deploying some instrumentation, and start engaging with our education partners and students as well as communities and researchers.
How long will the project last?
The project is funded for five years and will run through 2027.

Our Methods

What is a field laboratory?
Opposite of research done in a laboratory with a white coat, a field lab takes scientists outside or in the field. In the case of CROCUS, our researchers will be out around the Chicagoland area taking measurements and collecting data.
Will CROCUS build a physical laboratory?
No, CROCUS will use the Chicago region as an urban field laboratory. Select neighborhoods and areas of the metropolitan region will host installations of sensors that will help CROCUS scientists gather data to develop climate models. Besides the installation of sensors and their maintenance, all the data collection is done remotely.
Where will instruments be installed?
Instrument location is driven by our science plan: it is being selected based on the potential for providing scientifically useful sets of data. We are beginning by installing instruments at our partner Institutions campuses, and then in future years in different locations around the city and in neighborhoods.
Will instruments be visible?
CROCUS will use a variety of instruments, some mounted on rooftops, other on poles or streetlamps, as well as other types of instruments used that are mobile, tested at Argonne’s Lemont campus, and deployed in the region at various locations including at our research partner’s institutions.
What is a SAGE node?
CROCUS will use Sage CI, an open community platform of hardware and software that collects data right up against the instrument collection point, which is known as “the edge.” Sage is built on Waggle107, a computational platform, and of two types of physical CI: a Sage blade server for inside enclosures and a Wild Sage Node for outdoor installation. Wild Sage Nodes have been comprehensively tested and validated for their ability to withstand the elements and provide useful data. They will be instrumented to collect specific data related to climate, such as temperature, relative humidity, etc.
Will CROCUS be collecting personal information?
No, CROCUS will not be collecting any type of personal information.

Our Partners and Community

What academic institutions are a part of CROCUS?
Chicago State University, City Colleges of Chicago, North Carolina A&T State University, Northeastern Illinois University, Northwestern University, University of Chicago, University of Illinois Chicago, University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, University of Notre Dame, University of Texas – Austin, University of Wisconsin – Madison, and Washington University in St. Louis.
What organizations or community partners are a part of CROCUS?
Blacks in Green, Greater Chatham Initiative, Metropolitan Mayors Caucus, and Puerto Rican Agenda.
How will CROCUS gather community input?
In end of the first year of the project, CROCUS will start engaging with citizens and communities and connecting them with researchers. We will rely on communities to provide their on-the-ground experience to help design experiments and understand resulting observations and models, ask the most meaningful questions, critique findings, codesign future scenarios, and help disseminate results. Additionally, there will be frequent community engagement workshops.
How will CROCUS run community meetings?
Our citizen scientists will organize community meetings to share findings. Students and researchers will present the findings so that CROCUS participants and communities can help interpret them and discuss their implications.
What is citizen science?
Citizen science is where the public participates in the scientific process and helps answer real-world questions in their neighborhood. To increase community engagement and strengthen organizational capacity, CROCUS will include a citizen science course on research methods, data collection, and use of data for advocacy. We will enlist citizen scientists from local communities and educational partners to help collect and analyze data, and work with them to communicate the resulting information to communities. These citizen scientists will bridge relations between researchers and community members.
What kind of educational opportunities will CROCUS provide for students?
CROCUS will inspire, train, and mentor current and future climate scientists. Students will be able to participate in research activities, engage in summer internships at partner CROCUS laboratories and communities. We will create teaching modules using CROCUS data to create culturally relevant lessons on real-world issues affecting their communities. There will be professional development opportunities, a career fair and pipeline to graduate programs, postdoctoral fellowships and research staff. CROCUS partners will also work to identify courses and university needs that will benefit from CROCUS and identify/support curricular development to match job demand. CROCUS short-term goals are aligning and prioritizing education and training programs with community and academic partners and developing metrics for assessing impacts. CROCUS long-term goals are to build research capacity for conducting urban climate science at these institutions and assist in developing curricula in the community with minority serving institutions.