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States in the North Central (NC) region have already been invaded by grass speciescapable of altering fire regimes and creating self-perpetuating 'grass-fire cycles'. Under climatechange, these grasses may interact with drought and fire to burn more and exclude native species. Managers can plan for these interactions and create collaborative communities to address thesecomplex challenges.
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Maintaining the native prairie lands of the Northern Great Plains (NGP), which provide an important habitat for declining grassland species, requires anticipating the effects of increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) concentrations and climate change on the region’s vegetation. Specifically, climate change threatens NGP grasslands by increasing the potential encroachment of native woody species into areas where they were previously only present in minor numbers. This project used a dynamic vegetation model to simulate vegetation type (grassland, shrubland, woodland, and forest) for the NGP for a range of projected future climates and relevant management scenarios. Comparing results of these simulations illustrates...
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In southwestern Colorado, land managers anticipate the impacts of climate change to include higher temperatures, more frequent and prolonged drought, accelerated snowmelt, larger and more intense fires, more extreme storms, and the spread of invasive species. These changes put livelihoods, ecosystems, and species at risk. Focusing on communities in southwestern Colorado’s San Juan and Gunnison river basins, this project will expand opportunities for scientists, land managers, and affected residents to identify actions that can support resilience and adaptation in the face of changing climate conditions. This project builds on the project “Building Social and Ecological Resilience to Climate Change in southwestern...
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One of the biggest challenges facing resource managers today is not knowing exactly when, where, or how climate change effects will unfold. To help federal land managers address this need, the North Central CASC has been working with the National Park Service to pioneer an approach for incorporating climate science and scenario planning into NPS planning processes, in particular Resource Stewardship Strategies (RSS). These strategies serve as a long-range planning tool for a national park unit to achieve its desired natural and cultural resource conditions, and are used to guide a park’s full spectrum of resource-specific management plans and day-to-day management activities. To support adaptation planning within...
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Climate change is causing an increase in the amount of forested area burned by wildfires in the western U.S. The warm, dry post-fire conditions of the region may limit tree regeneration in some areas, potentially causing a shift to non-forest vegetation. Managers are increasingly challenged by the combined impacts of greater wildfire activity, the significant uncertainty about whether forests will recover, and limited resources for reforestation efforts. Simultaneously, there has been an increased focus on post-fire reforestation efforts as tree planting has become a popular climate change mitigation strategy across the nation. Therefore, with increased interest and need, it is crucial to identify where varying...
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Tribal resource managers in the southwest U.S. are facing a host of challenges related to environmental change, including increasing temperatures, longer periods of drought, and invasive species. These threats are exacerbating the existing challenges of managing complex ecosystems. In a rapidly changing environment, resource managers need powerful tools and the most complete information to make the most effective decisions possible. Traditional Ecological Knowledge has enabled Indigenous peoples to adaptively manage and thrive in diverse environments for thousands of years, yet it is generally underutilized and undervalued, particularly in the context of western scientific approaches. Traditional Ecological...
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Natural and cultural resource managers across the country have begun to use a tool known as "scenario planning" to help prepare for climate change effects that may unfold in the future. In this process, scientific projections are used to identify different plausible, relevant, and divergent climate conditions for a particular area, and then through a participatory process, scientists and resource managers develop "scenarios" which describe the implications of these different conditions for resources and management. The North Central CASC has been working with the National Park Service (NPS) Climate Change Response Program (CCRP) to encourage and support national parks in incorporating climate science and scenario...
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The NC CASC works to communicate the science conducted at the center out to the North Central region through a variety of communication resources such as state specific fact sheets, newsletters, social media and webinars. These communication products aim to connect researchers, managers, and practitioners to usable science, success stories, and solutions for natural and cultural resource management and adaptation under a changing climate. More specifically, the webinar series focuses on ongoing research and practices from the NC CASC network, and feature topics of critical importance to natural resource managers and other stakeholders within the region. To learn more about NC CASC communications, please visit the...
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With joint funding from the North Central Climate Science Center (NC CSC) and NASA's Earth Science Applied Sciences Program, the NC CSC supports resource managers and their decision process through its Resource for Vulnerability Assessment, Adaptation and Mitigation Planning (ReVAMP), a collaborative research/planning effort supported by high performance computing and modeling resources. The NC CSC focuses primarily on climate data as input to the ReVAMP. In this project the NASA DEVELOP program was used to evaluate how remote sensing data sets can contribute to the ecological response models that are implemented in the ReVAMP system. This work demonstrates the utility of remote sensing in vulnerability assessment...
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Federal land managers need an adaptive management framework to accommodate changing conditions and that allows them to effectively link the appropriate science to natural resource management decision-making across jurisdictional boundaries. FRAME-SIMPPLLE is a collaborative modeling process designed to accomplish this goal by coupling the adaptive capabilities of the SIMPPLLE modeling system with accepted principles of collaboration. The two essential components of the process are FRAME (Framing Research in support of the Adaptive Management of Ecosystems), which creates a collaborative problem-solving environment, and SIMPPLLE (SIMulating Patterns and Processes at Landscape Scales), which is a vegetation dynamics...
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In recent decades, Rocky Mountain accumulated snowpack levels have experienced rapid declines, yet long-term records of snowpack prior to the installation of snowpack observation stations in the early and mid 20th century are limited. To date, a small number of tree-ring based reconstructions of April 1 Snow Water Equivalent (SWE) in the northern Rocky Mountains have extended modern records of snowpack variability to ~1200 C.E. Carbonate isotope lake sediment records, provide an opportunity to further extend tree-ring based reconstructions through the Holocene, providing a millennial-scale temporal record that allows for an evaluation of multi-scale drivers of snowpack variability, from internal climate dynamics...
Climate change is altering fire regimes and post-fire conditions, contributing to relatively rapid transformation of landscapes across the western US. Studies are increasingly documenting post-fire vegetation transitions, particularly from forest to non-forest conditions or from sagebrush to invasive annual grasses. The prevalence of climate-driven, post-fire vegetation transitions is likely to increase in the future with major impacts on social–ecological systems. However, research and management communities have only recently focused attention on this emerging climate risk, and many knowledge gaps remain. We identify three key needs for advancing the management of post-fire vegetation transitions, including centering...
Categories: Publication; Types: Citation
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Covering 120 million acres across 14 western states and 3 Canadian provinces, sagebrush provides critical habitat for species such as pronghorn, mule deer, and sage-grouse – a species of conservation concern. The future of these and other species is closely tied to the future of sagebrush. Yet this important ecosystem has already been affected by fire, invasive species, land use conversion, and now, climate change. In the western U.S., temperatures are rising and precipitation patterns are changing. However, there is currently a limited ability to anticipate the impacts of climate change on sagebrush. Current methods suffer from a range of weakness that limits the reliability of results. In fact, the current uncertainty...
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Natural resource managers consistently identify invasive species as one of the biggest challenges for ecological adaptation to climate change. Yet climate change is often not considered during their management decision making. Given the many ways that invasive species and climate change will interact, such as changing fire regimes and facilitating the migration of high priority species, it is more critical than ever to integrate climate adaptation science and natural resource management. The coupling of climate adaptation and invasive species management remains limited by a lack of information, personnel, and funding. Those working on ecological adaptation to climate change have reported that information is not...
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Grasslands in the northern Great Plains are important ecosystems that support local economies, tribal communities, livestock grazing, diverse plant and animal communities, and large-scale migrations of big game ungulates, grassland birds, and waterfowl. Climate change and variability impact how people and animals live on and interact with grasslands, and can bring more frequent droughts, fires, or new plant species that make managing these landscapes challenging. Understanding how climate change and variability will impact grassland ecosystems and their management in the 21st century first requires a synthesis of what is known across all of these scales and a gap analysis to identify key areas of focus for future...
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Climate change is poised to alter natural systems, the frequency of extreme weather, and human health and livelihoods. In order to effectively prepare for and respond to these challenges in the north-central region of the U.S., people must have the knowledge and tools to develop plans and adaptation strategies. The objective of this project was to build stakeholders’ capacity to respond to climate change in the north-central U.S., filling in gaps not covered by other projects in the region. During the course of this project, researchers focused on three major activities: Tribal Capacity Building: Researchers provided tribal colleges and universities with mini-grants to develop student projects to document climate-related...
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Prairies were once widespread across North America, but are now one of the most endangered and least protected ecosystems in the world. Agriculture and residential development have reduced once extensive prairies into a patchwork of remnant prairies and “surrogate” grasslands (e.g., hayfields, planted pastures). Grassland ecosystems and many grassland-dependent birds are also particularly vulnerable to rapid shifts in climate and associated changes in drought and extreme weather. The Central Flyway is a vast bird migration route that comprises more than half of the continental U.S., and extends from Central America to Canada, and harbors the greatest diversity of grassland birds in North America. Throughout this...
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As climate change progresses, profound environmental changes are becoming a widespread concern. A new management paradigm is developing to address this concern with a framework that encourages strategic decisions to resist, accept, or direct ecological trajectories. Effective use of the Resist-Accept-Direct (RAD) framework requires the scientific community to describe the range of plausible ecological conditions managers might face, while recognizing limits to our ability to predict precisely where or how specific climatic changes may unfold or how complex environmental systems will respond - the climatic future does not fully determine the ecological one. Recent advances have improved development and delivery...
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The climate of the North Central U.S. is driven by a combination of factors, including atmospheric circulation patterns, the region’s complex topography which extends from the High Rockies to the Great Plains, and variations in hydrology. Together, these factors determine the sustainability of the region’s ecosystems and the services that they provide communities. In order to understand the vulnerability of the region’s ecosystems to change, it is necessary to have reliable projections of future climate conditions. To address this need, researchers first examined past and present variations in climate and assessed the ability of climate models to effectively project future climate conditions for the region. Second,...
Fire suppression is the primary management response to wildfires in many areas globally. By removing less-extreme wildfires, this approach ensures that remaining wildfires burn under more extreme conditions. Here, we term this the “suppression bias” and use a simulation model to highlight how this bias fundamentally impacts wildfire activity, independent of fuel accumulation and climate change. We illustrate how attempting to suppress all wildfires necessarily means that fires will burn with more severe and less diverse ecological impacts, with burned area increasing at faster rates than expected from fuel accumulation or climate change. Over a human lifespan, the modeled impacts of the suppression bias exceed those...
Categories: Publication; Types: Citation


map background search result map search result map Using a Collaborative Modeling Approach to Explore Climate and Landscape Change in the Northern Rockies and Inform Adaptive Management Projecting the Future Encroachment of Woody Vegetation into Grasslands of the Northern Great Plains by Simulating Climate Conditions and Possible Management Actions Regional Short- and Long-term Climate Impacts on Northern Rocky Mountain and Great Plains Ecosystems Understanding Extreme Climate Events in the North Central U.S. Capacity Building in the North-Central U.S.: Tribal Engagement, Climate Training, and PhenoCam Deployment Forecasting Future Changes in Sagebrush Distribution and Abundance Building Social and Ecological Resilience to Climate Change in Southwestern Colorado: Phase 2 Refining Guidance for Incorporating Climate Science and Scenario Planning into National Park Service Resource Stewardship Strategies Synthesis of Climate Impacts and Adaptation on Grassland Ecosystems in the Northern Great Plains Strategies for Reducing the Vulnerability of Grassland Birds to Climate Change within the Central Flyway Exploring the Past to Plan for the Future: Integrating Indigenous Knowledge and Paleoperspectives to Inform Climate Change Adaptation Science to Inform Post-fire Conifer Regeneration and Reforestation Strategies Under Changing Climate Conditions Creating a North Central Regional Invasive Species and Climate Change (NC RISCC) Management Network Supporting the National Park Service in Climate Adaptation Planning Developing Products to Increase Climate Science Communication NOAA/WDS Paleoclimatology - Northern Rockies 2,200 Year Snow Water Equivalent Reconstructions Crafting Ecological Scenarios to Implement the Resist-Accept-Direct (RAD) Framework RISCC Network Management Challenge: The Invasive Grass-Fire Cycle in the North Central U.S. Refining Guidance for Incorporating Climate Science and Scenario Planning into National Park Service Resource Stewardship Strategies Building Social and Ecological Resilience to Climate Change in Southwestern Colorado: Phase 2 Exploring the Past to Plan for the Future: Integrating Indigenous Knowledge and Paleoperspectives to Inform Climate Change Adaptation Projecting the Future Encroachment of Woody Vegetation into Grasslands of the Northern Great Plains by Simulating Climate Conditions and Possible Management Actions NOAA/WDS Paleoclimatology - Northern Rockies 2,200 Year Snow Water Equivalent Reconstructions Science to Inform Post-fire Conifer Regeneration and Reforestation Strategies Under Changing Climate Conditions Forecasting Future Changes in Sagebrush Distribution and Abundance Using a Collaborative Modeling Approach to Explore Climate and Landscape Change in the Northern Rockies and Inform Adaptive Management Regional Short- and Long-term Climate Impacts on Northern Rocky Mountain and Great Plains Ecosystems Understanding Extreme Climate Events in the North Central U.S. Capacity Building in the North-Central U.S.: Tribal Engagement, Climate Training, and PhenoCam Deployment Synthesis of Climate Impacts and Adaptation on Grassland Ecosystems in the Northern Great Plains Creating a North Central Regional Invasive Species and Climate Change (NC RISCC) Management Network Supporting the National Park Service in Climate Adaptation Planning Developing Products to Increase Climate Science Communication Crafting Ecological Scenarios to Implement the Resist-Accept-Direct (RAD) Framework RISCC Network Management Challenge: The Invasive Grass-Fire Cycle in the North Central U.S. Strategies for Reducing the Vulnerability of Grassland Birds to Climate Change within the Central Flyway