NW Climate Science Digest
Aquatic Resources, Stream Flow, Hydrology in the Western U.S.
Stream temperature Variability: Why it matters to Salmon
The July issue of Science Findings (a USFS Pacific Northwest Research Station publication) is devoted to salmon, stream temperature variance, and how climate change and human activities can affect natural variability. A recent study indicates that the commonly used degree-day accumulation model is not sufficient to predict how organisms respond to stream temperature. Changes in how the degree days are delivered have the potential to alter the timing of life history transitions in Chinook salmon and other organisms
Snowpack regimes of the Western United States
Trujillo, E., and N. P. Molotch (2014), Snowpack regimes of the Western United States, Water Resour. Res., 50, 5611–5623, doi:10.1002/2013WR014753
Snow accumulation and melt patterns play a significant role in the water, energy, carbon, and nutrient cycles in the montane environments of the Western United States. Recent studies have illustrated that changes in the snow/rainfall apportionments and snow accumulation and melt patterns may occur as a consequence of changes in climate in the region. In order to understand how these changes may affect the snow regimes of the region, the current characteristics of the snow accumulation and melt patterns must be identified. Here researchers characterize the snow water equivalent (SWE) curve formed by the daily SWE values at 766 snow pillow stations in the Western United States, focusing on several metrics of the yearly SWE curves and the relationships between the different metrics. The metrics are the initial snow accumulation and snow disappearance dates, the peak snow accumulation and date of peak, the length of the snow accumulation season, the length of the snowmelt season, and the snow accumulation and snowmelt slopes. Three snow regimes emerge from these results: a maritime, an intermountain, and a continental regime. The maritime regime is characterized by higher maximum snow accumulations reaching 300 cm and shorter accumulation periods of less than 220 days. Conversely, the continental regime is characterized by lower maximum accumulations below 200 cm and longer accumulation periods reaching over 260 days. The intermountain regime lies in between. The regions that show the characteristics of the maritime regime include the Cascade Mountains, the Klamath Mountains, and the Sierra Nevada Mountains. The intermountain regime includes the Eastern Cascades slopes and foothills, the Blue Mountains, Northern and Central basins and ranges, the Columbia Mountains/Northern Rockies, the Idaho Batholith, and the Canadian Rockies. Lastly, the continental regime includes the Middle and Southern Rockies, and the Wasatch and Uinta Mountains. The implications of snow regime classification are discussed in the context of possible changes in accumulation and melt patterns associated with regional warming.
NorWeST adds Oregon Coast stream temperature climate scenarios & database to online availability
Stream temperature climate scenarios for the Oregon Coast developed from data the local aquatics community contributed are now available on the NorWeST website . The stream temperature database for this area is a compilation from dozens of resource organizations & hundreds of individuals & consists of 9,128 summers of monitoring effort at 3,472 unique stream sites. The NorWeST project is funded by the Great Northern and North Pacific LCC’s and the project goals are to develop a comprehensive regional database archive and a set of accurate, high-resolution stream climate scenarios for use in climate vulnerability assessments, temperature monitoring, interagency coordination, & stream research. The NorWeST products consist of three basic things (described below), all of which can be summarized, displayed, or queried in ArcGIS and other databases for ease of use. A file showing the scenarios for Oregon Coast streams under historic (1980s), 2040s, & 2080s conditions is attached to this email (flip through it to see an animated climate sequence).
Climate Change, Crowd-Sourcing, and Conserving Aquatic Biotas in the Rocky Mountains This Century
July/August issue of the USFS’ Science You Can Use: http://www.fs.fed.us/rm/science-application-integration/publications/
The July/August issue of the USFS Rocky Mountain Research Station’s Science You Can Use publication is devoted to this topic. Abstract: Climate change is causing rapid changes to stream habitats across the Rocky Mountains and Pacific Northwest as warmer air temperatures and changes in precipitation increase stream temperatures, alter stream hydrology, and increase the extent and magnitude of natural disturbances related to droughts and wildfires. These changes are affecting trout, salmon, and other fish populations, many of which are already subject to substantial non-climate stressors. Fish habitats at lower elevations—near the downstream edges of species distributions—are particularly vulnerable. However, three Rocky Mountain Research scientists are conducting research and developing applied management tools that harness the power of crowd-sourcing to generate information and create opportunities for collaboration and resource allocation decisions that may help to conserve some of the aquatic biotas currently at risk. This is enabling adaptation to move forward at a scale and pace more appropriate to the challenges posed by climate change.
How will increases in rainfall intensity affect semiarid ecosystems?
Siteur, K., M. B. Eppinga, D. Karssenberg, M. Baudena, M. F. P. Bierkens, and M. Rietkerk (2014), How will increases in rainfall intensity affect semiarid ecosystems?, Water Resour. Res., 50, 5980–6001, doi:10.1002/2013WR014955
Model studies suggest that semiarid ecosystems with patterned vegetation can respond in a nonlinear way to climate change. This means that gradual changes can result in a rapid transition to a desertified state. Previous model studies focused on the response of patterned semiarid ecosystems to changes in mean annual rainfall. The intensity of rain events, however, is projected to change as well in the coming decades. In this paper, we study the effect of changes in rainfall intensity on the functioning of patterned semiarid ecosystems with a spatially explicit model that captures rainwater partitioning and runoff-runon processes with simple event-based process descriptions. Analytical and numerical analyses of the model revealed that rainfall intensity is a key parameter in explaining patterning of vegetation in semiarid ecosystems as low mean rainfall intensities do not allow for vegetation patterning to occur. Surprisingly, we found that, for a constant annual rainfall rate, both an increase and a decrease in mean rainfall intensity can trigger desertification. An increase negatively affects productivity as a greater fraction of the rainwater is lost as runoff. This can result in a shift to a bare desert state only if the mean rainfall intensity exceeds the infiltration capacity of bare soil. On the other hand, a decrease in mean rainfall intensity leads to an increased fraction of rainwater infiltrating in bare soils, remaining unavailable to plants. Our findings suggest that considering rainfall intensity as a variable may help in assessing the proximity to regime shifts in patterned semiarid ecosystems and that monitoring losses of resource through runoff and bare soil infiltration could be used to determine ecosystem resilience.
Biodiversity/Species and Ecosystem Response
Is adaptation to climate change really constrained in niche specialists?
Belinda van Heerwaarden and Carla M. Sgrò, Proc. R. Soc. B 7 September 2014 vol. 281 no. 1790 20140396, Published online 23 July 2014 doi: 10.1098/rspb.2014.0396
Species with restricted distributions make up the vast majority of biodiversity. Recent evidence suggests that Drosophila species with restricted tropical distributions lack genetic variation in the key trait of desiccation resistance. It has therefore been predicted that tropically restricted species will be limited in their evolutionary response to future climatic changes and will face higher risks of extinction. However, these assessments have been made using extreme levels of desiccation stress (less than 10% relative humidity (RH)) that extend well beyond the changes projected for the wet tropics under climate change scenarios over the next 30 years. Here, we show that significant evolutionary responses to less extreme (35% RH) but more ecologically realistic levels of climatic change and desiccation stress are in fact possible in two species of rainforest restricted Drosophila. Evolution may indeed be an important means by which sensitive rainforest-restricted species are able to mitigate the effects of climate change.
Seasonal not annual rainfall determines grassland biomass response to carbon dioxide
Hovenden, M., et al., Nature, 2014/07/31/print, Vol 511, Issue 7511, pp 583-586, http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nature13281
Large annual variation in the stimulation of above-ground biomass by elevated carbon dioxide in a mixed C3/C4 temperate grassland can be predicted accurately using seasonal rainfall totals.
Estimating Climate Resilience for Conservation across Geophysical Settings
ANDERSON, M. G., CLARK, M. and SHELDON, A. O. (2014), Estimating Climate Resilience for Conservation across Geophysical Settings. Conservation Biology, 28: 959–970. doi: 10.1111/cobi.12272
Conservationists need methods to conserve biological diversity while allowing species and communities to rearrange in response to a changing climate. We developed and tested such a method for northeastern North America that we based on physical features associated with ecological diversity and site resilience to climate change. We comprehensively mapped 30 distinct geophysical settings based on geology and elevation. Within each geophysical setting, we identified sites that were both connected by natural cover and that had relatively more microclimates indicated by diverse topography and elevation gradients. We did this by scoring every 405 ha hexagon in the region for these two characteristics and selecting those that scored >SD 0.5 above the mean combined score for each setting. We hypothesized that these high-scoring sites had the greatest resilience to climate change, and we compared them with sites selected by The Nature Conservancy for their high-quality rare species populations and natural community occurrences. High-scoring sites captured significantly more of the biodiversity sites than expected by chance (p < 0.0001): 75% of the 414 target species, 49% of the 4592 target species locations, and 53% of the 2170 target community locations. Calcareous bedrock, coarse sand, and fine silt settings scored markedly lower for estimated resilience and had low levels of permanent land protection (average 7%). Because our method identifies—for every geophysical setting—sites that are the most likely to retain species and functions longer under a changing climate, it reveals natural strongholds for future conservation that would also capture substantial existing biodiversity and correct the bias in current secured lands.
Climate and Weather Reports and Services
Recent Walker circulation strengthening and Pacific cooling amplified by Atlantic warming
McGregor et al., Recent Walker circulation strengthening and Pacific cooling amplified by Atlantic warming, Nature Clim. Change, 2014/08/03 advance online publication, http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nclimate2330
An unprecedented strengthening of Pacific trade winds since the late 1990s has caused widespread climate perturbations, including rapid sea-level rise in the western tropical Pacific, strengthening of Indo-Pacific ocean currents, and an increased uptake of heat in the equatorial Pacific thermocline. The corresponding intensification of the atmospheric Walker circulation is also associated with sea surface cooling in the eastern Pacific, which has been identified as one of the contributors to the current pause in global surface warming. In spite of recent progress in determining the climatic impacts of the Pacific trade wind acceleration, the cause of this pronounced trend in atmospheric circulation remains unknown. Here researchers analyse a series of climate model experiments along with observational data to show that the recent warming trend in Atlantic sea surface temperature and the corresponding trans-basin displacements of the main atmospheric pressure centres were key drivers of the observed Walker circulation intensification, eastern Pacific cooling, North American rainfall trends and western Pacific sea-level rise. The study suggests that global surface warming has been partly offset by the Pacific climate response to enhanced Atlantic warming since the early 1990s.
Attribution of global glacier mass loss to anthropogenic and natural causes
Ben Marzeion, J. Graham Cogley, Kristin Richter, and David Parkes, Science 1254702Published online 14 August 2014 [DOI:10.1126/science.1254702
The ongoing global glacier retreat is affecting human societies by causing sea-level rise, changing seasonal water availability, and increasing geohazards. Melting glaciers are an icon of anthropogenic climate change. However, glacier response times are typically decades or longer, which implies that the present-day glacier retreat is a mixed response to past and current natural climate variability and current anthropogenic forcing. Here, we show that only 25 ± 35% of the global glacier mass loss during the period from 1851 to 2010 is attributable to anthropogenic causes. Nevertheless, the anthropogenic signal is detectable with high confidence in glacier mass balance observations during 1991 to 2010, and the anthropogenic fraction of global glacier mass loss during that period has increased to 69 ± 24%.
Threat to future global food security from climate change and ozone air pollution
Tai et al., Threat to future global food security from climate change and ozone air pollution, Nature Clim. Change, 2014/07/27 advance online publication, http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nclimate2317
This study shows that warming reduces global crop production by >10% by 2050 with a potential to substantially worsen global malnutrition in all scenarios considered. Ozone trends either exacerbate or offset a substantial fraction of climate impacts depending on the scenario, suggesting the importance of air quality management in agricultural planning. Furthermore, we find that depending on region some crops are primarily sensitive to either ozone (for example, wheat) or heat (for example, maize) alone, providing a measure of relative benefits of climate adaptation versus ozone regulation for food security in different regions.
Ancient shellfish remains rewrite 10,000-year history of El Niño cycles
Carré et al., Holocene history of ENSO variance and asymmetry in the eastern tropical Pacific, Published Online August 7 2014, Science DOI: 10.1126/science.1252220
The planet’s largest and most powerful driver of climate changes from one year to the next, the El Niño Southern Oscillation in the tropical Pacific Ocean, was widely thought to have been weaker in ancient times because of a different configuration of the Earth’s orbit. But scientists analyzing 25-foot piles of ancient shells have found that the El Niños 10,000 years ago were as strong and frequent as the ones we experience today. The results, from the University of Washington and University of Montpellier, question how well computer models can reproduce historical El Niño cycles, or predict how they could change under future climates. UW news release link. The paper is now online and will appear in an upcoming issue of Science
Hotter Days, Heavier Rains Projected for United States
Vose, R.S., & Coauthors. (2014) Improved Historical Temperature and Precipitation Time Series for U.S. Climate Divisions. J. Appl. Meteor. Climatol., 53, 1232–1251. doi.org/10.1175/JAMC-D-13-0248.1
(From The Climate CIRCulator, a publication of The Pacific Northwest Climate Impacts Research Consortium (CIRC) and The Oregon Climate Change Research Institute (OCCRI).) Many types of extreme events will increase in size and frequency in the future. That is the conclusion of climate experts who recently compared climate models to observed data. The scientists evaluated global climate models’ simulations of extreme events in the United States. They also examined the models’ future projections of the frequency and magnitude of extremes, from hot days to heavy rainfall. The questions were posed during a workshop at the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project phase 5 (CMIP5). The workshop’s findings — published in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society — echo earlier studies. Conclusions include:
Hotter Temperatures: More high-temperature extremes and fewer low-temperature extremes are on the horizon. In other words, the highs are getting higher and the lows are also higher. By 2100, under the high-emission scenario, the 20-year annual maximum temperature (so-called because it would occur once in 20 years, on average) likely will increase between 5 and 7 degrees Celsius in the Pacific Northwest. The 20-year annual minimum temperature could rise by 10 degrees inland and 5 to 7 degrees on the coast.
Historical simulations of extreme temperatures are largely consistent with recorded observations. The exception occurred in the mid-1980s to mid-1990s, the researchers note. Record highs occurred slightly less often and record lows occurred slightly more often in the simulations than in the observations. (Compared to observations, simulated warm extremes were less than 2 degrees Celsius warmer, while cold extremes were a little more than 2 degrees colder in the western United States.)
Heavier Precipitation: Heavy precipitation events are on the rise across the United States, and that trend is projected to continue. But the climate models vary substantially, both in how much heavy precipitation already has increased and in how much it will increase going forward.
Depending on the emissions scenario, models project a 50 percent to 90 percent increase in the annual fraction of precipitation falling in the wettest rainstorms across the country by 2100. In the Northwest, the 20-year annual maximum precipitation is projected to happen three to four times more frequently by 2100. All models project an increase in the extreme precipitation index, a regionally averaged measure of extreme precipitation that has increased more in the real world than models simulate during the last four decades. In general, there are large differences between climate models in simulating historical heavy rainfall, but that large spread across models is smaller for future projections.
The rise in atmospheric water vapor—a significant greenhouse gas—over the past 30 years can be tied to human activities
Chung et al., published online before print July 28, 2014, PNAS, doi: 10.1073/pnas.1409659111
The fact that water vapor is the most dominant greenhouse gas underscores the need for an accurate understanding of the changes in its distribution over space and time. Although satellite observations have revealed a moistening trend in the upper troposphere, it has been unclear whether the observed moistening is a facet of natural variability or a direct result of human activities. Here, researchers used a set of coordinated model experiments to confirm that the satellite-observed increase in upper-tropospheric water vapor over the last three decades is primarily attributable to human activities. This attribution has significant implications for climate sciences because it corroborates the presence of the largest positive feedback in the climate system.
Coastal/Marine Ecosystems, Ocean Acidification, Sea Level Rise
USGS Coastal Change Hazard Portal
This tool gives you access to exploring coastal hazard risks information along America's coasts at varied scales, from local areas of interest to national scope. It was developed with “agile software,” so you can overlay other geographic information easily without the need for GIS programs. Pick your favorite coastal location, type in the name, zoom in, and explore historic shorelines, rates of shoreline change, sea-level rise, forecasts related to long-term change, the Coastal Vulnerability Index and more. Video: Tutorial demonstration of how to use the USGS Coastal Change Hazards Portal: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZvlITDs9PII
NOAA: ‘Nuisance flooding’ an increasing problem as coastal sea levels rise.
Study looks at more than 60 years of coastal water level and local elevation data changes. Eight of the top 10 U.S. cities that have seen an increase in so-called “nuisance flooding”--which causes such public inconveniences as frequent road closures, overwhelmed storm drains and compromised infrastructure--are on the East Coast, according to a new NOAA technical report. This nuisance flooding, caused by rising sea levels, has increased on all three U.S. coasts, between 300 and 925 percent since the 1960s. The report, Sea Level Rise and Nuisance Flood Frequency Changes around the United States, also finds Annapolis and Baltimore, Maryland, lead the list with an increase in number of flood days of more than 920 percent since 1960. Port Isabel, Texas, along the Gulf coast, showed an increase of 547 percent, and nuisance flood days in San Francisco, California increased 364 percent.
Ocean’s most oxygen-deprived zones to shrink under climate change
Deutsch et al., Centennial changes in North Pacific anoxia linked to tropical trade winds, Science 8 August 2014: Vol. 345 no. 6197 pp. 665-668, DOI: 10.1126/science.1252332
As the complex story of climate change unfolds, many of the endings are grim. But there are exceptions. Predictions that the lowest-oxygen environments in the ocean would get worse may not come to pass. Instead, University of Washington research shows climate change, as it weakens the trade winds, could shrink the size of these extreme low-oxygen waters. “The tropics should actually get better oxygenated as the climate warms up,” said Curtis Deutsch, a UW associate professor of oceanography. He is lead author of the study published Aug. 8 in Science.
West Coast Ocean Acidification and Hypoxia Science Panel
The West Coast Ocean Acidification and Hypoxia Science Panel has a new website. Learn more about the scientists on the Panel, explore their vision, and discover how they are advancing a bold new knowledge base in service of the region's future. The panel was established in 2013 by the California Ocean Protection Council. The website will provide a venue to disseminate and distribute products that are produced by the Panel as they work to summarize information on key themes identified by decision makers.
EPA Climate Ready Estuaries Program Launches Redesigned Website
Resources are now easier to find and webpages are now searchable. New features include interactive maps of Climate Ready Estuary projects, king tides, and more. Update your bookmarks to the new address: http://www2.epa.gov/cre
Long-term sea level trends: Natural or anthropogenic?
Becker, M., M. Karpytchev, and S. Lennartz-Sassinek (2014), Long-term sea level trends: Natural or anthropogenic?, Geophys. Res. Lett., 41, doi:10.1002/2014GL061027
Detection and attribution of human influence on sea level rise are important topics that have not yet been explored in depth. We question whether the sea level changes (SLC) over the past century were natural in origin. SLC exhibit power law long-term correlations. By estimating Hurst exponent through Detrended Fluctuation Analysis and by applying statistics of Lennartz and Bunde , we search the lower bounds of statistically significant external sea level trends in longest tidal records worldwide. We provide statistical evidences that the observed SLC, at global and regional scales, is beyond its natural internal variability. The minimum anthropogenic sea level trend (MASLT) contributes to the observed sea level rise more than 50% in New York, Baltimore, San Diego, Marseille, and Mumbai. A MASLT is about 1 mm/yr in global sea level reconstructions that is more than half of the total observed sea level trend during the XXth century.
Big Fires More Frequent Across Western Region
Dennison, P. E., Brewer, S.C, Arnold, J.D., & Moritz, M.A. (2014) Large wildfire trends in the western United States, 1984–2011, Geophys. Res. Lett., 41, 2928–2933, doi:10.1002/2014GL059576 and Littell, J.S., McKenzie, D., Peterson, D.L. & Westerling, A.L. (2009) Climate and wildfire area burned in western U.S. ecoprovinces, 1916–2003. Ecological Applications, 19, 1003–1021. doi: 10.1890/07-1183.1
Fires are among the most destructive climate-related natural hazards in the western United States. A new analysis of satellite data shows that large fires have become more frequent over the past 30 years. Using high-resolution satellite data, Philip Dennison and colleagues tallied up the number of fires larger than 1,000 acres— almost 7,000 fires in all— and aggregated them over nine eco-regions. The scientists then calculated linear trends from 1984 to 2011.
Total burned area trended upward in all nine eco-regions, and the total area burned across the West increased at an average rate of 355 square kilometers per year. The number of large fires trended upward in seven of the nine, including all three of the Northwest eco-regions (the Cascade/Klamath/Sierra mountains, the Snake Plain/Columbia Plateau, and the northern Rockies). However, in the Cascades eco-region, the very largest fires (90th percentile) are decreasing at 3 square kilometers per year. Climatologists are hesitant to identify a trend for a period as short as three decades. But earlier analysis by Jeremy Littell and colleagues demonstrated that between 1916 and 2003— nearly a century — wildfire area burned in the western United States increased and, importantly, climate was the primary driver, “despite the possible influence of fire suppression, exclusion, and fuel treatment.” The relationships between climate and area burned, however, are different in each eco-region, according to the researchers, owing, for example, to the relative importance of early spring snowmelt or summer heat in drying the forests enough to burn.
Maintaining Resilience in the Face of Climate Change
Camacho, Alejandro E. and Beard, T. Douglas, Maintaining Resilience in the Face of Climate Change (July 9, 2014). Social-Ecological Resilience and Law, edited by Ahjond S. Garmestani and Craig R. Allen. Copyright ©2014 Columbia University Press. Reprinted with Permission of the Publisher.; UC Irvine School of Law Research Paper No. 2014-35. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2464235
The authors of this paper suggest that government institutions currently lack the capacity to manage substantial changes to ecological, legal, and resource management systems that are projected to occur with climate change. The authors also put forth the idea that a federal, publicly accessible, and system-wide portal containing information on the effects of climate change on ecological systems could help organizations become more resilient and better able to adapt.
How does your diet stack up?
A new study finds the average greenhouse gas emissions GHG emissions (in kilograms of carbon dioxide equivalents per day) of meat-eaters, fish-eaters, vegetarians and vegans were: 7.19 for high meat-eaters, 5.63 for medium meat-eaters, 4.67 for low meat-eaters, 3.91 for fish-eaters, 3.81 for vegetarians and 2.89 for vegans.
Science integration into US climate and ocean policy
Petes et al., Science integration into US climate and ocean policy, Nature Clim. Change,2014/08/Vol 4, Issue 8 671-677, http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nclimate2312
The pace of environmental change lends urgency to the need for integration of climate considerations into ocean policy and management. A recent rapid expansion of ocean and climate policies provides a timely window of opportunity for the scientific community to inform and support these efforts. Lessons can be learned from successful initiatives, where scientists are working hand-in-hand with decision makers and managers to enhance ocean resilience. Looking ahead, the most pressing decision-needs associated with oceans and climate change should serve to prioritize and drive scientific efforts.
Opportunities to Reduce Federal Fiscal Exposures Through Greater Resilience to Climate Change and Extreme Weather
GAO-14-504T: Published: Jul 29, 2014. Publicly Released: Jul 29, 2014
The GAO found that climate change and related extreme weather impacts on infrastructure and federal lands increase fiscal exposures that the federal budget does not fully reflect. Investing in resilience—actions to reduce potential future losses rather than waiting for an event to occur and paying for recovery afterward—can reduce the potential impacts of climate-related events. Implementing resilience measures creates additional up-front costs but could also confer benefits, such as a reduction in future damages from climate-related events.
Tribal and Indigenous Peoples Matters
Indigenous Experiences in the U.S. with Climate Change and Environmental Stewardship in the Anthropocene
Chief, K. Daigle, J; Lynn, K; Whyte K. 2014. Indigenous Experiences in the U.S. with Climate Change and Environmental Stewardship in the Anthropocene. In: Sample, V. Alaric; Bixler, R. Patrick, eds. 2014. Forest conservation and management in the Anthropocene: Conference proceedings. RMRS-P-71. Fort Collins, CO: US Department of Agriculture, Forest Service. Rocky Mountain Research Station. 494 p
The recognition of climate change issues facing tribal communities and indigenous peoples in the United States is growing, and understanding its impacts is rooted in indigenous ethical perspectives and systems of ecological knowledge. This foundation presents a context and guide for contemporary indigenous approaches to address climate change impacts that are comprehensive and holistic. Tribal communities and indigenous peoples across the United States are re-envisioning the role of science in the Anthropocene; working to strengthen government-to-government relationships in climate change initiatives; and leading climate change research, mitigation and adaptation plans through indigenous ingenuity. Unique adaptive capacities of tribal communities stem from their ethics and knowledge, and help frame and guide successful adaptation. As documented in the Special Issue of the Climatic Change Journal on the impacts of climate change to U.S. indigenous communities (Maldonado and others 2013), these issues include the loss of traditional knowledge; impacts to forests, ecosystems, traditional foods, and water; thawing of Arctic sea ice and permafrost; and relocation of communities. This collaboration, by more than 50 authors from tribal communities, academia, government agencies, and NGOs, demonstrates the increasing awareness, interest, and need to understand the unique ways in which climate change will affect tribal cultures, lands, and traditional ways of life. Climate change is expected to affect animal and plant species that indigenous people depend on for their livelihoods, health and cultural practices. The impacts of climate change on forests and other ecosystems that are home to many of these species require tribal engagement in climate change research, assessments, and adaptation efforts. This paper synthesizes key issues and case studies related to climate change impacts on tribally valued forest resources and tribal adaptive responses to climate change.
Indigenous community health and climate change: integrating biophysical and social science indicators
Donatuto, J. E.E. Grossman, J. Konovsky, S. Grossman, and L.W. Campbell. 2014. Indigenous community health and climate change: integrating biophysical and social science indicators. Coast Manage. 42(4): 355-373. DOI: 10.1080/08920753.2014.923140
This article describes a pilot study evaluating the sensitivity of Indigenous community health to climate change impacts on Salish Sea shorelines (Washington State, United States and British Columbia, Canada). Current climate change assessments omit key community health concerns, which are vital to successful adaptation plans, particularly for Indigenous communities. Descriptive scaling techniques, employed in facilitated workshops with two Indigenous communities, tested the efficacy of ranking six key indicators of community health in relation to projected impacts to shellfish habitat and shoreline archaeological sites stemming from changes in the biophysical environment. Findings demonstrate that: when shellfish habitat and archaeological resources are impacted, so is Indigenous community health; not all community health indicators are equally impacted; and, the community health indicators of highest concern are not necessarily the same indicators most likely to be impacted. Based on the findings and feedback from community participants, exploratory trials were successful; Indigenous-specific health indicators may be useful to Indigenous communities who are assessing climate change sensitivities and creating adaptation plans.