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Vulnerability Assessment and Adaptation Planning for Projected Changes in Water Quality and Quantity for Protected Areas in the Upper Mississippi Watershed

A Northeast CSC Directed Funding FY 18 Project
Principal Investigator
Kristen Bouska

Dates

Start Date
2018-07-10
End Date
2021-04-01
Release Date
2018

Summary

Climate change and the extreme weather associated with it can be a major challenge to landowners and land managers interested in the protection, restoration, recovery, and management of wetlands and wildlife habitats. The Midwest is not only experiencing an increase in average temperatures and precipitation, but also an increase in the frequency of extreme events, such as heat waves and floods. Forecasting the potential impacts of the changes over the next 25 to 50 years will be important for decision makers and landowners seeking to minimize the impacts to infrastructure and to the habitats themselves and prepare for the future. Changes in flood frequency threaten habitat management infrastructure and actions, while also carrying [...]

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BlackRiverDelta_WI_MPD.jpg
“Black River Delta, WI, Public Domain - Credit”
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Purpose

Climate change and the extreme weather associated with it can be a major challenge to landowners and land managers interested in the protection, restoration, recovery, and management of wetlands and wildlife habitats. The Midwest is not only experiencing an increase in average temperatures and precipitation, but also an increase in the frequency of extreme events, such as heat, floods, and drought. Forecasting the potential impacts of the changes over the next 25 to 50 years will be important for decision makers and landowners seeking to minimize the impacts to infrastructure and to the habitats themselves and prepare for the future. By providing maps of watersheds and protected areas at greatest risk of increased flooding, sedimentation and eutrophication, now and in the future, decision makers, landowners and land managers can consider options for modifying resource allocation, management strategies and/or changing infrastructure to provide protection for trust resources.

Project Extension

parts
typeTechnical Summary
valueObjectives: 1) Rank sub-watersheds (such as, U.S. Geological Survey eight-digit cataloging units or Hydrologic Unit Code (HUC-8) boundaries) within the Midwest Region Hydrologic Unit Code (HUC) eight boundaries most vulnerable to increased flooding, sedimentation, and eutrophication based on current and projected threats to aquatic species and habitats. 2) Rank U.S. Fish and Wildlife (FWS) National Wildlife Refuges and Wetland Management Districts (protected areas) in the Midwest Region most vulnerable to flooding, sedimentation, and/or eutrophication based on current and projected watershed vulnerability, habitat and habitat management, infrastructure, establishing purpose and ability to adapt. 3) Develop adaptation strategies and options for protected areas within the most vulnerable watersheds. Background/Justification: Extreme weather conditions challenge the ability of land managers in the Midwest to protect sensitive habitats and species, both within and outside of protected areas. Changes in climate and land use may exacerbate these issues, particularly in riverine and riparian systems. For example, a recent NASA-funded project yielded information indicating that the Midwest is not only experiencing an increase in average temperatures and precipitation, but also an increase in the frequency of extreme events, such as heat, floods, and drought. In addition to climate, projected changes in land use will alter runoff patterns and water quality. The FWS Midwest Region needs a consolidation of available climate information by which to assess vulnerabilities specific to trust resources and begin climate adaptation planning. FWS regional leadership require information to guide resource allocation decisions, while local land managers need mitigation strategies to account for future conditions. Providing watershed and protected area mapping products that illustrate focal resource vulnerabilities (e.g. habitat and or species) in relation to climate, extreme weather, and land use change will inform regional decision making, while adaptation support at the local level will guide on the ground strategies. Specifically, our goal is to pilot an approach that will allow FWS offices in the Midwest to begin working towards increasing our local and regional ability to address climate change. Purpose: The purpose of this project is to identify sub-watersheds within the FWS Midwest Region administrative boundary (Figure 1) at risk of increased flooding, sedimentation, and eutrophication with future changes in climate and land use. A second goal is to identify protected areas where threatened sub-watersheds are concentrated, and develop adaptation strategies for mitigating the impacts to aquatic resources and habitats. Procedures/Methods: Vulnerability of watersheds and individual protected areas will be assessed based on a synthesis of available datasets characterizing projected exposure, sensitivity, and adaptive capacity to projected climate changes. Protected areas will be ranked according to the potential impacts and adaptive capacity, and a small number of protected areas will be selected to draft adaptation strategies. A workshop will be held with natural resource professionals to jointly discuss potential adaptation options and strategies specific to each protected land, and relevant science needs to address uncertainties. Expected Products and Information/Technology Transfer: The results of this work will be delivered as a manuscript that highlights the vulnerability assessment (and possibly adaptation strategies). We envision the manuscript will be submitted to a journal like Conservation Biology or Biological Conservation. Geospatial layers of the synthesized datasets will also be made available.
projectStatusIn Progress

Black River Delta, WI, Public Domain - Credit
Black River Delta, WI, Public Domain - Credit

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Communities

  • National and Regional Climate Adaptation Science Centers
  • Northeast CASC

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Identifiers

Type Scheme Key
RegistrationUUID NCCWSC c1d699bc-4111-4f65-ae98-ac53f361348c
StampID NCCWSC NE18-BK1497

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