NW Climate Science Digest

Aquatic Resources, Stream Flow, Hydrology in the Western U.S.

Snowpack in Western Mountains to Shrink Over Time

Klos, P.Z., T.E. Link, & J.T. Abatzoglou (2014).  Extent of the rain-snow transition zone in the western U.S. under historic and projected climate, Geophys. Res. Lett., 41, 4560–4568, doi:10.1002/2014GL060500. 

Mote, P.W., A.F. Hamlet, M.P. Clark, & D.P. Lettenmaier (2005) Declining mountain snowpack in western North America, Bull. of the Amer. Meteorol. Soc.,86, 39–49.  doi: 10.1175/BAMS-86-1-39

The winter wonderland of snow-capped mountains in the western United States is becoming less snowy. Indeed, a fundamental shift in wintertime precipitation in the mountains and highlands of the American West is on the way, researchers suggest.  Across the region, many communities — among them towns and cities in the wet Pacific Northwest — rely on water stored in mountain snowpack to meet their needs during the dry summer months. But the snowfall that builds this critical snowpack increasingly will turn to rain as our climate warms, according to University of Idaho researchers, including CIRC’s John Abatzoglou. This “snow-dominated” area could contract by as much as 30 percent by the middle of this century if worldwide carbon emissions continue growing rapidly.
 
What’s more, the season of “exclusive snowfall” (when temperatures are rarely warm enough for rain) in western mountain ranges — typically November to March — is projected to shorten by almost two months. The hardest-hit regions are expected to be the Northern Rockies, North Cascades and Blue Mountains, where winter temperatures will no longer be conducive to exclusive snowfall.
 
Not only will snow-dominated areas disappear, the extent of rain-dominated areas will expand. Nearly two-thirds of the Columbia Plateau region is projected to experience only rain where in the past there was a mix of snow and rain.
 
So far, nearly half of the western U.S. has remained cold enough in winter to experience precipitation almost exclusively as snow. But these particular mountain regions are especially sensitive to climate change-induced winter warming. That’s because their mid-elevations and relatively mild winters keep them marginally close to the freezing point where snow becomes rain. By contrast higher elevation and colder mountain regions — such as the Sierra Nevada, Central and Southern Rockies — are projected to retain some areas of exclusive snowfall.
 
These findings provide a spatially detailed interpretation and extension of observed and simulated trends at point locations, previously published by CIRC researchers Phil Mote and Dennis Lettenmaier, who found that since the mid-20th century, the mountains with mild winters had lost the greatest fraction of their snow. Detailed maps and data depicting the probability of rain versus snow in the western US both historically and in the future are publicly available here.

Climate-Aquatics Bonus Blog #60: New report describes data collection protocols for continuous monitoring of temperature & flow in wadeable streams

More stream-climate data is the simplest way to decrease uncertainties…

Tracking Interannual Streamflow Variability with Drought Indices in the U.S. Pacific Northwest

John T. Abatzoglou, Renaud Barbero, Jacob W. Wolf, Zachary A. Holden. (2014) Tracking Interannual Streamflow Variability with Drought Indices in the U.S. Pacific Northwest. Journal of Hydrometeorology 15:5, 1900-1912. Online publication date: 1-Oct-2014. 

http://adaptwest.databasin.org/pages/adaptwest-waterbalance

Dobrowski, S.Z., J. Abatzoglou, A.K. Swanson, J.A. Greenberg, A.R. Mynsberge, Z.A. Holden, M.K. Schwartz (2013) The climate velocity of the contiguous United States during the 20thcentury. Global Change Biology 19: 241-251    

This portion of the AdaptWest site provides links to climatic water balance data for the continental United States (CONUS). The data are derived from the Parameter Regression of Independent Slopes Model (PRISM) data for the period 1900-2010, soils data from SSTATSGO, and atmospheric data from NLDAS-2 and NARR…. Using the water balance data climate change velocity for actual evapotranspiration, deficit, and minimum temperature is assessed over the CONUS during the 20th century (1916–2005)…. Climate change velocity describes the rate and direction which an organism would need to migrate to maintain an isocline of a given climate variable. 

Hydrologic landscape classification evaluates streamflow vulnerability to climate change in Oregon

Leibowitz, S. G., Comeleo, R. L., Wigington Jr., P. J., Weaver, C. P., Morefield, P. E., Sproles, E. A., and Ebersole, J. L.: Hydrologic landscape classification evaluates streamflow vulnerability to climate change in Oregon, USA, Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 18, 3367-3392, doi:10.5194/hess-18-3367-2014, 2014

Classification can allow for evaluations of the hydrologic functions of landscapes and their responses to stressors. Here researchers demonstrate the use of a hydrologic landscape (HL) approach to evaluate vulnerability to potential future climate change at statewide and basin scales in the state of Oregon. The HL classification has five components: climate, seasonality, aquifer permeability, terrain, and soil permeability. We evaluate changes when the 1971–2000 HL climate indices are recalculated using 2041–2070 simulation results from the ECHAM (European Centre HAMburg) and PCM (Parallel Climate Model) climate models with the A2, A1b, and B1 emission scenarios. Changes in climate class were modest (4–18%) statewide. However, there were major changes in seasonality class for five of the six realizations (excluding PCM_B1): Oregon shifts from being 13% snow-dominated to 4–6% snow-dominated under these five realizations, representing a 56–68% reduction in snowmelt-dominated area… A major strength of the HL approach is that results can be applied to similarly classified, ungaged basins. Information resulting from such evaluations can help inform management responses to climate change at regional and basin scales without requiring detailed modeling efforts.

The interactive effects of climate change, riparian management, and a nonnative predator on stream-rearing salmon

Lawrence, David J., Ben Stewart-Koster, Julian D. Olden, Aaron S. Ruesch, Christian E. Torgersen, Joshua J. Lawler, Don P. Butcher, and Julia K. Crown. 2014. The interactive effects of climate change, riparian management, and a nonnative predator on stream-rearing salmon. Ecological Applications 24:895–912. http://dx.doi.org/10.1890/13-0753.1

Researchers found that riparian restoration could prevent the extirpation of chinook salmon from… altered stream(s) and could also restrict bass from occupying the upper (portions) of salmon-rearing habitat. The proposed methodology and model predictions are critical for prioritizing climate-change adaptation strategies before salmonids are exposed to both warmer water and greater predation risk by nonnative species. 

A first step in prioritizing riparian corridors for climate adaptation planning

Riparian areas are key targets for conservation efforts aimed at promoting biological resilience to climate change. However, few methods are available to managers to prioritize specific riparian areas when developing climate adaptation strategies. Current methods typically use riverine connectivity as a coarse proxy for riparian connectivity and do not account for variability in habitat quality, which should influence species range shifts and availability of refugia. To improve on these methods, Dr. Meade Krosby at the University of Washington’s Climate Impacts Group and her colleagues completed a fine-resolution analysis, which identifies potential riparian areas with characteristics (e.g., high canopy cover, large temperature gradient) expected to benefit species. They also integrate results from across scales—from local watersheds to the entire Pacific Northwest (USA).

The researchers emphasize the analysis' value as a first step toward identifying Pacific Northwest riparian areas that are most likely to promote biological resilience to climate change. Though they acknowledge the analysis has limitations that must be considered before its application, the researchers intent is to greatly improve the ability of natural resource managers to prioritize riparian corridors in climate adaptation planning.

Flaws Detected in Models that Predict Future Changes in Stream Temperature

Ivan Arismendi, Mohammad Safeeq, Jason B Dunham and Sherri L Johnson, Can air temperature be used to project influences of climate change on stream temperature? Environmental Research Letters,vol 9, 084015, http://stacks.iop.org/1748-9326/9/i=8/a=084015

Researchers found that regression-based statistical models that predict stream temperatures based on more widely available air temperature data did not accurately predict long-term changes in stream temperatures, likely due to additional influential variables, such as groundwater contributions or riparian shading. This model evaluation shows that other alternatives are needed. 

How should flood risk assessments be done in a changing climate?

Schultz, C. (2014), Eos Trans. AGU, 95(35), 324; re: Rosner, A., R. M. Vogel, and P. H. Kirshen (2014), A risk-based approach to flood management decisions in a nonstationary world, Water Resour. Res., 50, 1928–1942, doi:10.1002/2013WR014561

Growing consensus on climate and land use change means that it is reasonable to assume, at the very least, that flood levels in a region may change. Then why, ask Rosner et al. in a new study, do the dominant risk assessment techniques used to decide whether to build new flood protection infrastructure nearly always start with an assumption of “no trend” in flood behavior? 

Report for NPLCC Summarizes Hydrology-related Manager Information Needs

Woodward, Andrea, and Jenni, Karen, 2014, Resource manager information needs regarding hydrologic regime shifts for the North Pacific Landscape Conservation Cooperative: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2014-1178, 28 p., http://dx.doi.org/10.3133/ofr20141178

A new report details outcomes from a North Pacific Landscape Conservation Cooperative workshop held in January, 2014 that focused on changes in hydrologic regime on rivers, streams, and riparian corridors. The USGS helped to determine what information managers need in order to address the consequences of climate change on valued resources. [FullText] Contact: Andrea Woodward, 206-526-2534, andrea_woodward@usgs.gov

Arid Ecosystems

Natural Regeneration Processes in Big Sagebrush

Schlaepfer, Daniel R., William K. Lauenroth, and John B. Bradford. 2014. Natural Regeneration Processes in Big Sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata). Rangeland Ecology and Management 67(4): 344-357

Potential impacts of climate change on big sagebrush regeneration could include that temperature increases may not have a large direct influence on regeneration due to the broad temperature optimum for regeneration, whereas indirect effects could include selection for populations with less stringent seed dormancy. Drier conditions will have direct negative effects on germination and seedling survival and could also lead to lighter seeds, which lowers germination success further. The short seed dispersal distance of big sagebrush may limit its tracking of suitable climate; whereas, the low competitive ability of big sagebrush seedlings may limit successful competition with species that track climate. An improved understanding of the ecology of big sagebrush regeneration should benefit resource management activities and increase the ability of land managers to anticipate global change impacts. 

Desert shrub responses to experimental modification of precipitation seasonality and soil depth: relationship to the two-layer hypothesis and ecohydrological niche

Germino, M. J., Reinhardt, K. 2014. Desert shrub responses to experimental modification of precipitation seasonality and soil depth: relationship to the two-layer hypothesis and ecohydrological niche. Journal of Ecology 102: 989–997. doi: 10.1111/1365-2745.12266

Sagebrush was found to be more responsive to the seasonal timing of precipitation than to total annual precipitation. Factors that enhanced deep-water storage (deeper soils plus more winter precipitation) led to increases in Artemisia tridentate… and the contribution of shallow water to growth on these plots was consistent with the resource-pool hypothesis. However, shallow-soil water also had negative effects on sagebrush, suggesting an ecohydrological trade-off not considered in these or related theories. The interaction between precipitation timing and soil depth indicates that increased winter precipitation could lead to a mosaic of increases and decreases in A. tridentata across landscapes having variable soil depth. 

Biodiversity/Species and Ecosystem Response

Audubon Society's Birds and Climate Change Report: 314 species on the brink

Audubon scientists have used hundreds of thousands of citizen-science observations spanning three decades and sophisticated climate models to predict how 588 species of birds in the U.S. and Canada will react to climate change. Audubon's work defines the climate conditions birds need to survive, then maps where those conditions will be found in the future as the Earth's climate responds to increased greenhouse gases. Audubon's model predicts that 314 North American bird species face the risk of extinction by the year 2100. The Society has separated those 314 species into two groups: (1) Climate Threatened, 188 species that may lose over 50% of their current ranges by 2080 and (2) Climate Endangered, 126 species that may lose over 50% of their current ranges by 2050.  An innovative feature of the Audubon website is an interactive, animated map for each of the 314 species showing where a particular species is likely to find suitable climate conditions for survival at three future time thresholds: 2020, 2050, and 2080. Audubon plans to expand the map feature in the future to include all 588 species.

Global variation in thermal tolerances and vulnerability of endotherms to climate change

Khaliq, Imran, Christian Hof, Roland Prinzinger, Katrin Böhning-Gaese, and Markus Pfenninger. 2014. Global variation in thermal tolerances and vulnerability of endotherms to climate change. Proceedings of the Royal Society B 281: 20141097

The relationships among species' physiological capacities and the geographical variation of ambient climate are of key importance to understanding the distribution of life on the Earth…. This research finds the expected relationship between thermal tolerance and ambient climatic variability in birds, but not in mammals—a contrast possibly resulting from different adaptation strategies to ambient climate via behaviour, morphology or physiology. Researchers show that currently most of the species are experiencing ambient temperatures well within their tolerance limits and that in the future many species may be able to tolerate projected temperature increases across significant proportions of their distributions. However, the findings also underline the high vulnerability of tropical regions to changes in temperature and other threats of anthropogenic global changes. This study demonstrates that a better understanding of the interplay among species' physiology and the geography of climate change will advance assessments of species' vulnerability to climate change. 

Elevated CO2 further lengthens growing season under warming conditions

Reyes-Fox, Melissa, Heidi Steltzer, M. J. Trlica, Gregory S. McMaster, Allan A. Andales, Dan R. LeCain and Jack A. Morgan. 2014. Elevated CO2 further lengthens growing season under warming conditions. Nature 510: 259-262. doi: 10.1038/nature13207

Here, researchers show that experimental warming in a temperate grassland led to a longer growing season through earlier leaf emergence by the first species to leaf, often a grass, and constant or delayed senescence by other species that were the last to senesce, supporting the conceptual model. Elevated CO2 further extended growing, but not reproductive, season length in the warmed grassland by conserving water, which enabled most species to remain active longer. These results suggest that a longer growing season, especially in years or biomes where water is a limiting factor, is not due to warming alone, but also to higher atmospheric CO2 concentrations that extend the active period of plant annual life cycles. 

Reversing defaunation: Restoring species in a changing world

Philip J. Seddon et al., Science 345, 406 (2014); DOI: 10.1126/science.1251818

The rate of biodiversity loss is not slowing despite global commitments, and the depletion of animal species can reduce the stability of ecological communities. Despite this continued loss, some substantial progress in reversing defaunation is being achieved through the intentional movement of animals to restore populations. The authors review the full spectrum of conservation translocations, from reinforcement and reintroduction to controversial conservation introductions that seek to restore populations outside their indigenous range or to introduce ecological replacements for extinct forms. The popular, but misunderstood, concept of rewilding is placed within this framework and the authors consider the future role of new technical developments such as de-extinction.

A continental risk assessment of West Nile virus under climate change

Harrigan, R. J., Thomassen, H. A., Buermann, W. and Smith, T. B. 2014. A continental risk assessment of West Nile virus under climate change. Global Change Biology 20: 2417–2425. doi: 10.1111/gcb.12534

Projected geographic distributions of WNV in North America under future climate for 2050 and 2080 show an expansion of suitable climate for the disease, driven by warmer temperatures and lower annual precipitation that will result in the exposure of new and naïve host populations to the virus with potentially serious consequences. This risk assessment identifies current and future hotspots of West Nile virus where mitigation efforts should be focused and presents an important new approach for monitoring vector-borne disease under climate change. 

Responses of high-altitude graminoids and soil fungi to 20 years of experimental warming

Rudgers, Jennifer A., Stephanie N. Kivlin, Kenneth D. Whitney, Mary V. Price, Nickolas M. Waser, and John Harte. 2014. Responses of high-altitude graminoids and soil fungi to 20 years of experimental warming. Ecology 95:1918–1928. http://dx.doi.org/10.1890/13-1454.1

Researchers show that 20 years of experimental warming has changed the species composition of graminoid (grass and sedge) assemblages in a subalpine meadow of the Rocky Mountains, USA, by increasing the frequency of sedges and reducing the frequency of grasses. The results demonstrate that lumping grasses and sedges when characterizing plant community responses can mask significant shifts in the responses of primary producers, and their symbiotic fungi, to climate change. 

Climate and Weather Reports and Services

August and June-August global temperatures each reach record high, driven largely by record warm global oceans

According to NOAA scientists, the globally averaged temperature over land and ocean surfaces for August 2014 was the highest for August since record keeping began in 1880. It also marked the 38th consecutive August with a global temperature above the 20th century average. The last below-average global temperature for August occurred in 1976.

Hawaii Climate Information

Evapotranspiration of Hawai`i This website provides a set of maps of the spatial patterns of evapotranspiration for the major Hawaiian Islands. (http://evapotranspiration.geography.hawaii.edu)

Solar Radiation of Hawai`i This website provides a set of maps of the spatial patterns of solar radiation for the major Hawaiian Islands.( http://solar.geography.hawaii.edu)

Climate of Hawai`i: This website provides a set of maps of the spatial patterns of climate for the major Hawaiian Islands. (http://climate.geography.hawaii.edu)

Great Basin Weather and Climate Dashboard

This website provides up to date climate and weather data and forecasts/outlooks for the Great Basin including temperature, precipitation, drought, snowpack and hydrologic information.  (Some of the information includes the entire western U.S.)  The Dashboard is a joint effort amongst the Western Regional Climate Center, California and Nevada Applications Program, the USDA Farm Service Agency and the Great Basin LCC. 

Office of the Washington State Climatologist issues a monthly newsletter

The Office of the Washington State Climatologist issues a monthly newsletter that summarizes the WA climate for the previous month, includes a precipitation and temperature outlook, and also includes a brief summary of an interesting aspect of the weather or climate of WA, among a few other sections: See www.climate.washington.edu/newsletter for copies and to join the listserv. 

NOAA 2013 Global Climate Report

The average global temperature for 2013 tied as the fourth warmest year since record keeping began in 1880, according to NOAA scientists. It also marked the 37th consecutive year with a global temperature above the 20th century average. The last below-average annual temperature was 1976. Including 2013, all 13 years of the 21st century (2001-2013) rank among the 15 warmest in the 134-year period of record.  The three warmest years on record are 1998, 2005, and 2010.  This analysis is from NOAA's National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, North Carolina.  To access the summary and full report, visit: http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/news/ncdc-releases-2013-global-climate-report.

PNW Climate Outlook

This quarterly report from the Pacific Northwest Climate Impacts Research Consortium (CIRC) provides a seasonal wrap up of relevant regional issues along with an outlook for the coming season in Idaho, Oregon, Washington and Western Montana.  To subscribe send an email to John Stevenson.

Fire

Climate, fire size, and biophysical setting control fire severity and spatial pattern in the northern Cascade Range

Cansler, C. Alina and Donald McKenzie. 2014. Climate, fire size, and biophysical setting control fire severity and spatial pattern in the northern Cascade Range, USA. Ecological Applications 24:1037–1056. http://dx.doi.org/10.1890/13-1077.1

This research examined relationships between climate and the annual area burned and the size of wildfires over a 25-year period.  The study found significant positive relationships between climate and fire size, and between fire size and the proportion of high severity and spatial-pattern metrics that quantify the spatial aggregation of high-severity areas within fires, but the strength and significance of these relationships varied among the four subsections. In areas with more contiguous subalpine forests and less complex topography, the proportion and spatial aggregation of severely burned areas were more strongly correlated with fire size. If fire sizes increase in a warming climate, changes in the extent, severity, and spatial pattern of fire regimes are likely to be more pronounced in higher-severity fire regimes with less complex topography and more continuous fuels. 

Regional projections of the likelihood of very large wildland fires under a changing climate in the contiguous Western United States

Stavros, Natasha E. et al., Regional projections of the likelihood of very large wildland fires under a changing climate in the contiguous Western United States, Climatic Change, October 2014, Volume 126, Issue 3-4, pp 455-468, DOI 10.1007/s10584-014-1229-6

Seasonal changes in the climatic potential for very large wildfires (VLWF ≥ 50,000 ac ~ 20,234 ha) across the western contiguous United States are projected over the 21st century using generalized linear models and downscaled climate projections for two representative concentration pathways (RCPs). Significant (p ≤ 0.05) increases in VLWF probability for climate of the mid-21st century (2031–2060) relative to contemporary climate are found, for both RCP 4.5 and 8.5. The largest differences are in the Eastern Great Basin, Northern Rockies, Pacific Northwest, Rocky Mountains, and Southwest. Changes in seasonality and frequency of VLWFs d7epend on changes in the future climate space. For example, flammability-limited areas such as the Pacific Northwest show that (with high model agreement) the frequency of weeks with VLWFs in a given year is 2–2.7 more likely. However, frequency of weeks with at least one VLWF in fuel-limited systems like the Western Great Basin is 1.3 times more likely (with low model agreement). Thus, areas where fire is directly associated with hot and dry climate, as opposed to experiencing lagged effects from previous years, experience more change in the likelihood of VLWF in future projections. The results provide a quantitative foundation for management to mitigate the effects of VLWFs. 

Interactions of climate, fire, and management in future forests of the Pacific Northwest

Interactions of climate, fire, and management in future forests of the Pacific Northwest Forest Ecology and Management, Volume 327, 1 September 2014, Pages 270-279
Michael C. Wimberly, Zhihua Liu

This paper synthesizes the recent literature on climate, fire, and forest management in the Pacific Northwest to summarize projected changes and assess how forest management can aid in adapting to future fire regimes and reducing their negative impacts. Increased wildfire under future climates has the potential to affect many ecosystem services, including wildlife habitat, carbon sequestration, and water and air quality. Fuel treatments in dry forest types can reduce fire severity and size, and strategically-placed treatments can help to protect both property and natural resources from wildfire. Although increased rates of burning are projected to reduce carbon stocks across the region, research to date suggests that fuel treatments are unlikely to result in significant increases in carbon storage. Prescribed burning combined with thinning has been demonstrated to be effective at reducing fire severity across a variety of dry forest types, but there is uncertainty about whether changing climate and increasing human encroachment into the wildland–urban interface will limit the use of prescribed fire in the future. Most fire research has focused on the dry forest types, and much less is known about the ecological impacts of increased wildfire activity in the moist forests and the potential for adapting to these changes through forest management. To address these knowledge gaps, future research efforts should build on the Pacific Northwest’s legacy of integrated regional assessments to incorporate broad-scale climatic drivers with processes operating at the stand and landscape levels, including vegetation succession, fire spread, treatment effects, and the expansion of human populations into wildland areas. An important outcome of this type of research would be the identification of localized “hot spots” that are most sensitive to future changes, and are where limited resources for fire management should be concentrated.

Forests

Changing forest water yields in response to climate warming: results from long-term experimental watershed sites across North America

Creed, I. F., et al. (2014), Changing forest water yields in response to climate warming: results from long-term experimental watershed sites across North America. Global Change Biology, 20: 3191–3208. doi: 10.1111/gcb.12615

[Includes three sites in the PNW] Researchers investigated how forest type and age affect water yield resilience to climate warming. Alpine sites showed the greatest sensitivity to climate warming with any warming leading to increased water yields. Forest type appeared to influence the resilience of catchment water yields to climate warming, with conifer and deciduous catchments more susceptible to climate warming than the more diverse mixed forest catchments.  

Forest stand structure, productivity, and age mediate climatic effects on aspen decline

Bell, David M., John B. Bradford, and William K. Lauenroth. 2014. Forest stand structure, productivity, and age mediate climatic effects on aspen decline. Ecology 95:2040–2046. http://dx.doi.org/10.1890/14-0093.1

Results from this research indicate that the effects of drought on mortality may be mediated by forest stand development, competition with encroaching conifers, and physiological vulnerabilities of large trees to drought. By examining mortality index responses to both forest structure and climate, this research shows that forest succession cannot be ignored in studies attempting to understand the causes and consequences of sudden aspen decline. 

Drought-triggered western spruce budworm outbreaks in the interior Pacific Northwest: A multi-century dendrochronological record

Flower, A., D.G. Gavin, E.K. Heyerdahl, R.A. Parsons, G.M. Cohn. 2014. Drought-triggered western spruce budworm outbreaks in the interior Pacific Northwest: A multi-century dendrochronological record. Forest Ecology and Management 324: 16-27. doi: 10.1016/j.foreco.2014.03.042

The association between climatic variability and outbreak dynamics observed across this transect indicates that climate is an important driver of western spruce budworm outbreaks. Other factors that were not tested, but that may influence outbreak dynamics include stand structure, forest composition, predation, and phenological synchrony between larvae and host trees. Future changes in western spruce budworm outbreak dynamics will be determined by a combination of changing climate, interactions with other disturbance agents, and changing forest composition and structure. These results suggest that western spruce budworm outbreaks will likely intensify if drought frequency increases in the future.

Land Use

Spatially explicit modeling of 1992–2100 land cover and forest stand age for the conterminous United States

Sohl, Terry L., Kristi L. Sayler, Michelle A. Bouchard, Ryan R. Reker, Aaron M. Friesz, Stacie L. Bennett, Benjamin M. Sleeter, Rachel R. Sleeter, Tamara Wilson, Chris Soulard, Michelle Knuppe, and Travis Van Hofwegen. 2014. Spatially explicit modeling of 1992–2100 land cover and forest stand age for the conterminous United States. Ecological Applications 24:1015–1036. http://dx.doi.org/10.1890/13-1245.1

Information on future land-use and land-cover (LULC) change is needed to analyze the impact of LULC change on ecological processes. The U.S. Geological Survey has produced spatially explicit, thematically detailed LULC projections for the conterminous United States. Four qualitative and quantitative scenarios of LULC change were developed, with characteristics consistent with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Special Report on Emission Scenarios. The four quantified scenarios (A1B, A2, B1, and B2) served as input to the forecasting scenarios of land-use change model. Four spatially explicit data sets consistent with scenario storylines were produced for the conterminous United States, with annual LULC maps from 1992 through 2100. The future projections are characterized by a loss of natural land covers in most scenarios, with corresponding expansion of anthropogenic land uses. Along with the loss of natural land covers, remaining natural land covers experience increased fragmentation under most scenarios, with only the B2 scenario remaining relatively stable in both the proportion of remaining natural land covers and basic fragmentation measures. Forest stand age was also modeled. By 2100, scenarios and ecoregions with heavy forest cutting had relatively lower mean stand ages compared to those with less forest cutting. Stand ages differed substantially between unprotected and protected forest lands, as well as between different forest classes. The modeled data were compared to the National Land Cover Database (NLCD) and other data sources to assess model characteristics. The consistent, spatially explicit, and thematically detailed LULC projections and the associated forest stand-age data layers have been used to analyze LULC impacts on carbon and greenhouse gas fluxes, biodiversity, climate and weather variability, hydrologic change, and other ecological processes. 

Taking Action

New Commitments to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions Announced at United Nations Climate Summit

Local governments are not adapting to sea-level rise because it is difficult to build consensus on the need for change and the best way to implement it. A research effort shows that show that adaptation pathways are a feasible approach at the local scale, offering a low-risk, low-cost way to begin the long process of adaptation to sea-level rise.  Barnett, J., et al., A local coastal adaptation pathway, Nature Clim. Change, 2014/09/28/online, advance online publication, Nature Publishing Group, http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nclimate2383

Persistent growth of CO2 emissions and implications for reaching climate targets

Friedlingstein et al., Persistent growth of CO2 emissions and implications for reaching climate targets, Nature GeoScience, Published online Sept 21, 2014, DOI: 10.1038/NGEO2248 http://www.nature.com/ngeo/journal/vaop/ncurrent/pdf/ngeo2248.pdf

We show that CO2 emissions track the high end of the latest generation of emissions scenarios, due to lower than anticipated carbon intensity improvements of emerging economies and higher global gross domestic product growth. In the absence of more stringent mitigation, these trends are set to continue and further reduce the remaining quota until the onset of a potential new climate agreement in 2020. Breaking current emission trends in the short term is key to retaining credible climate targets within a rapidly diminishing emission quota. 

Having Our Cake and Eating it, Too -- New Report Links Economic Growth to Climate Solutions:

An estimated US $89 trillion of investment in the world’s infrastructure will be needed in the next 15 years, regardless of action on climate according to The New Climate Economy, a report issued today by the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate. However, “A low-carbon transition across the entire economy could be achieved with only 5% more upfront investment from 2015-2030.” This is in strong contrast to the popular notion that "fixing climate" is going to cost us way too much. The report outlines a ten-point plan of action for governments and businesses for growing a low-carbon economy. The report’s conclusion is that countries at all levels of income now have the opportunity to build lasting economic growth at the same time as reducing the immense risks of climate change. You can explore the report and its summary online or If you prefer you can download the 72-page report (3.5 MB pdf)

A local coastal adaptation pathway:

Local governments are not adapting to sea-level rise because it is difficult to build consensus on the need for change and the best way to implement it. A research effort shows that show that adaptation pathways are a feasible approach at the local scale, offering a low-risk, low-cost way to begin the long process of adaptation to sea-level rise.  Barnett, J., et al., A local coastal adaptation pathway, Nature Clim. Change, 2014/09/28/online, advance online publication, Nature Publishing Group, http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nclimate2383

Connect with the American Society of Adaptation Professionals

The American Society of Adaptation Professionals (ASAP) connects leading professionals from a variety of sectors working to increase climate resilience across the United States.  Initially created in 2011, and formally launched in 2013, ASAP provides a platform and forum for climate adaptation leaders to interact, participate in cutting edge research, develop guidance for adaptation, and collaborate with their colleagues across the country.  The society builds off the strengths of its members and focuses on connecting adaptation professionals across the United States. Membership is free for 2014.  

The concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere made the biggest jump last year since 1984

According to the World Meteorological Organization's (WMO) Greenhouse Gas Bulletin, raising alarm bells about society's inaction on curbing global warming. 

Tribal and Indigenous Peoples Matters

Coastal Climate Impacts to First Foods, Cultural Sites, and Tribal Community Health and Well-being for the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community

EPA has awarded a large grant to the Swinomish to assess the combined effects of sea level rise, wave impacts, and shoreline development on coastal ecosystems that support Swinomish first foods and place-based relationships, which in turn impacts community health and well-being. The effort is designed to build community sustainability from a spatial and temporal ecological assessment of vulnerability that is integrated with Indigenous Health Indicators to strengthen adaptive capacity and inform strategic coastal planning.  Read more here.  Recently featured on OPB: http://earthfix.opb.org/land/article/epa-funds-climate-change-planning-f...

Climate and Traditional Knowledges Workgroup (CTKW) releases Guidelines for Considering Traditional Knowledges in Climate Change Initiatives.

On September 23, 2014 the Guidelines were released as an informational resource for tribes, agencies, and organizations across the United States interested in understanding traditional knowledges in the context of climate change.

The Third National Climate Assessment issued in May 2014 contained a chapter dedicated to the impact of climate change on tribal peoples. In light of the increasing recognition of the significance of traditional knowledges (TKs) in relation to climate change, a self-organized, informal group of indigenous persons, staff of indigenous governments and organizations, and experts with experience working with issues concerning traditional knowledges (The Climate and Traditional Knowledges Workgroup - CTKW), felt compelled to develop a framework to increase understanding of issues relating to access and protection of TKs in climate initiatives and interactions between holders of TKs and non-tribal partners. 

The Guidelines were originally developed to inform the Department of Interior’s Advisory Committee on Climate Change and Natural Resource Science (ACCCNRS) in May 2014. An annotated bibliography is also provided for reference and further information. These Guidelines are not intended to promote the exchange of Traditional Knowledges. Rather, they are to increase understanding of the role of and protections for TKs in climate initiatives, provide provisional guidance to those engaging in efforts that encompass TKs and increase mutually beneficial and ethical interactions between tribes and non-tribal partners. The Guidelines are a work in progress and intended to spur active deliberation and discussion for further development.  For more information and a question/comment form, visit: http://climatetkw.wordpress.com/ or contact:

·       Ann Marie Chischilly, Institute for Tribal Environmental Professionals, Ann-Marie.Chischilly@nau.edu

·       Preston Hardison, Tulalip Tribes, prestonh@comcast.net

·       Gary Morishima, Quinault Management Center, MORIKOG@aol.com