The 2017 Idaho Climate Summit - Safeguarding Idaho’s Economy in a Changing Climate: Our Water, Our Land, Our Health, Our Future is a two-day conversation about Idaho’s changing climate that will be led by businesses, resource and land managers, Idaho tribes and tribal organizations, researchers, public interest organizations, community members, and government officials. The summit will explore market-based solutions for safeguarding Idaho’s economy, health, landscape, and lifestyle.
Phenology, or the timing of the annual cycles of plants and animals, is extremely sensitive to changes in climate. We know that plants and animals may adjust the timing of certain phenological events, such as tree flowering or migration, based on changes in weather. However, it’s important that we also understand how the timing of phenological events is changing over longer time frames, as climate conditions change.
Fruit-producing shrubs such as huckleberries, salal, and hazelnut are an important component of social history and traditional tribal diets in the Pacific Northwest. The fruits of these shrubs are also an important food source for foraging wildlife and pollinators, and serve as the basis for both non-tribal harvesting and small-scale commercial operations.
Invasive species have increasingly severe consequences for ecosystems and human communities alike. The ecological impacts of invasive species are often irreversible, and include the loss of native species and the spread of disease. Implications for human communities include damaged water transportation systems, reduced crop yields, reduced forage quality for livestock, and widespread tree death - which can lead to increases in wildfire and loss of biodiversity.
As the dominant force that sets the structure and function of most Pacific Northwest forests, fire is likely to be the major catalyst of forest change in a warming climate. Rising temperatures, decreased snowpack, and earlier snowmelt are expected to lead to longer fire seasons, dryer fuel, and an increase in the area burned by wildfires in the future.
In the Northwest U.S., warming temperatures and changing precipitation patterns will likely result in significantly altered snowpack, stream flows, and water availability. Along with these changes comes an increased risk of “ecological drought”, or periods of water stress that impact ecosystems and the services they provide –which can ultimately impact human communities.
In order to assess and understand the potential impacts of climate change on important natural resources, managers, planners, and decision-makers need climate information at a local or regional scale. In general, Global Climate Models (GCMs) provide data at coarser scales than most natural resource managers need but Regional Climate Models (RCMs) are starting to deliver finer scale results. The project team will explore both dynamic downscaling products such as results from RCMs and statistical downscaling products generated at scales finer than the original projections.
The Northwest Climate Conference (formerly called the Pacific Northwest Climate Science Conference) is the premier climate science event for the region, providing a forum for researchers and practitioners to share scientific results and discuss challenges and solutions related to the impacts of climate change on people, natural resources, and infrastructure in the Northwest. Conference participants include policy- and decision-makers, resource managers, and scientists from academia, public agencies, sovereign tribal nations, non-governmental organizations, and the private sector.
Warmer air and water temperatures, changing precipitation patterns, and altered fire regimes associated with climate change threaten many important natural and cultural resources in the northwestern U.S. However, not all places on the landscape are changing in the same way. Refugia are locations that will likely experience less change or exhibit increased resilience compared to the surrounding landscape. Refugia may provide an opportunity for protecting important natural and cultural resources in the face of climate change.
Climate change impacts on water resources in the Pacific Northwest are predicted to have transformational effects on agriculture. Loss of winter snow pack, reduced summer stream flows, and increased summer temperatures are all phenomena that have already been observed, and are expected to worsen over this century. Research is ongoing in the Northwest to understand agriculture practices that might allow farmers to prepare for these climate change impacts.