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The threat of droughts and their associated impacts on the landscape and human communities has long been recognized in the United States, especially in high risk areas such as the South Central region. There is ample literature on the effects of long-term climate change and short-term climate variability on the occurrence of droughts. However, it is unclear whether this information meets the needs of relevant stakeholders and actually contributes to reducing the vulnerability or increasing the resilience of communities to droughts. For example, are the methods used to characterize the severity of drought – known as drought indices – effective tools for predicting the actual damage felt by communities? As droughts...
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Streamflow in the Colorado River is heavily influenced by high-elevation snowpack. Warming temperatures in spring can reduce snow-fed flows, with serious implications for the water supplies that support communities and wildlife. While it is already well-known that precipitation has a significant influence on river flow, recent observations suggest that temperature and the amount of water in soil may also influence streamflow. In the face of a changing climate, it is important that resource managers understand how factors such as changing temperatures and precipitation will affect this vital water source. To address this need, researchers are examining records of streamflow, temperature, soil moisture, and precipitation...
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Forests are of tremendous ecological and economic importance. They provide natural places for recreation, clean drinking water, and important habitats for fish and wildlife. However, the warmer temperatures and harsher droughts in the west that are related to climate change are causing die-offs of many trees. Outbreaks of insects, like the mountain pine beetle, that kill trees are also more likely in warmer, drier conditions. To maintain healthy and functioning forest ecosystems, one action forest managers can take is to make management decisions that will help forests adapt to future climate change. However, adaptation is a process based on genetic change and few tools are currently available for managers to use...
Abstract (from http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0174045): Several studies have projected increases in drought severity, extent and duration in many parts of the world under climate change. We examine sources of uncertainty arising from the methodological choices for the assessment of future drought risk in the continental US (CONUS). One such uncertainty is in the climate models’ expression of evaporative demand (E0), which is not a direct climate model output but has been traditionally estimated using several different formulations. Here we analyze daily output from two CMIP5 GCMs to evaluate how differences in E0 formulation, treatment of meteorological driving data, choice of GCM,...
Categories: Publication; Types: Citation; Tags: Drought, Drought, North Central CASC
The responses of individual species to environmental changes can be manifested at multiple levels that range from individual-level (i.e., behavioral responses) to population-level (i.e., demographic) impacts. Major environmental changes that ultimately result in population level impacts are often first detected as individual-level responses. For example, herbivores respond to limited forage availability during drought periods by increasing the duration of foraging periods and expanding home range areas to compensate for the reduction in forage. However, if the individual-level responses are not sufficient to compensate for reduced forage availability, reduced survival and reproductive rates may result. We studied...
Abstract (from ESA): Estimating population size and resource selection functions (RSFs) are common approaches in applied ecology for addressing wildlife conservation and management objectives. Traditionally such approaches have been undertaken separately with different sources of data. Spatial capture–recapture (SCR) provides a hierarchical framework for jointly estimating density and multi‐scale resource selection, and data integration techniques provide opportunities for improving inferences from SCR models. Despite the added benefits, there have been few applications of SCR‐RSF integration, potentially due to complexities of specifying and fitting such models. Here, we extend a previous integrated SCR‐RSF model...
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The South Central U.S. encompasses a wide range of ecosystem types and precipitation patterns. Average annual precipitation is less than 10 inches in northwest New Mexico but can exceed 60 inches further east in Louisiana. Much of the region relies on warm-season convective precipitation – that is, highly localized brief but intense periods of rainfall that are common in the summer. This type of precipitation is a significant driver of climate and ecosystem function in the region, but it is also notoriously difficult to predict since it occurs at such small spatial and temporal scales. While global climate models are helpful for understanding and predicting large-scale precipitation trends, they often do not capture...
The Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho Tribes on the Wind River Indian Reservation in Wyoming are preparing for drought and other climate fluctuations with help from a broad coalition of scientists. Read More: https://www.drought.gov/drought/sites/drought.gov.drought/files/media/whatisnidis/Newsletter/October%202015%20v4.pdf
Members of the Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho Tribes have been working with an interdisciplinary team of social, ecological, and climate scientists from the North Central CSC, the High Plains Regional Climate Center, and the National Drought Mitigation Center along with other university and agency partners to prepare regular climate and drought summaries to aid in managing water resources on the Wind River Reservation and in surrounding areas.
Severe droughts cause widespread tree mortality and decreased growth in forests across the globe. Forest managers are seeking strategies to increase forest resistance (minimizing negative impacts during the drought) and resilience (maximizing recovery rates following drought). Limited experimental evidence suggests that forests with particular structural characteristics have greater capacity to resist change and or recover ecosystem function in the face of drought. However, the applicability of these results to practical forest conservation and management remains unclear. This project utilized an existing network of eight long-term, operational-scale, forest management experiments from Arizona to Maine to examine...
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In Alaska, recent research has identified particular areas of the state where both a lack of soil moisture and warming temperatures increase the likelihood of wildfire. While this is an important finding, this previous research did not take into account the important role that melting snow, ice, and frozen ground (permafrost) play in replenshing soil moisture in the spring and summer months. This project will address this gap in the characterization of fire risk using the newly developed monthly water balance model (MWBM). The MWBM takes into account rain, snow, snowmelt, glacier ice melt, and the permafrost layer to better calculate soil moisture replenishment and the amount of moisture that is lost to the atmosphere...
There is growing evidence that the rate of warming is amplified with elevation, such that high-mountain environments experience more rapid changes in temperature than environments at lower elevations. Elevation-dependent warming (EDW) can accelerate the rate of change in mountain ecosystems, cryospheric systems, hydrological regimes and biodiversity. Here we review important mechanisms that contribute towards EDW: snow albedo and surface-based feedbacks; water vapour changes and latent heat release; surface water vapour and radiative flux changes; surface heat loss and temperature change; and aerosols. All lead to enhanced warming with elevation (or at a critical elevation), and it is believed that combinations...
This project consisted of two principal components: (1) A climatological analysis of burn conditions (2) A forum to discuss fire risk and management practices The climatological study included seasonality and inter-annual variability and potential changes due to increasing temperatures. The regional forum engaged stakeholders in a discussion of the use of prescribed fire in a safe and effective manner.
Wildfire refugia are forest patches that are minimally-impacted by fire and provide critical habitats for fire-sensitive species and seed sources for post-fire forest regeneration. Wildfire refugia are relatively understudied, particularly concerning the impacts of subsequent fires on existing refugia. We opportunistically re-visited 122 sites classified in 1994 for a prior fire refugia study, which were burned by two wildfires in 2012 in the Cascade mountains of central Washington, USA. We evaluated the fire effects for historically persistent fire refugia and compared them to the surrounding non-refugial forest matrix. Of 122 total refugial (43 plots) and non-refugial (79 plots) sites sampled following the 2012...
Abstract (from http://www.bioone.org/doi/abs/10.3417/2017006): The Earth system is undergoing rapid, profound anthropogenic change. The primary axes of change include not only the climate system, but also the spread of invasive species, altered biogeochemical and hydrological cycles, modified disturbance regimes, and land degradation and conversion. These factors are influencing the distribution of species and the structure and function of ecosystems worldwide, interacting with climatic stressors that may preclude the persistence of many current species distributions and communities. Ecological disturbances such as wildfires and insect outbreaks can interact with climate variability to precipitate abrupt change...
Categories: Publication; Types: Citation; Tags: Drought, Fire, Southwest CASC
Exposure (vulnerability) index for the future time period (2061-2080) representing projected climate conditions from the Meteorological Research Institute's Coupled Atmosphere-Ocean General Circulation Model, version 3, and the rcp85 emissions scenario. The exposure model uses LANDFIRE vegetation data and Worldclim climate data .The raster values represent exposure scores for the corresponding vegetation type. The modeled vegetation types can be spatially associated with the exposure values by overlaying them with the "landfire_veg_sw_300m.tif" raster.Exposure values represent where the location falls in climate space relative to its recent historical distribution:5 (core 5% of historical climate space); 10 (5 -...


map background search result map search result map Improving Representation of Extreme Precipitation Events in Regional Climate Models Community Resilience to Drought Hazard: An Analysis of Drought Exposure, Impacts, and Adaptation in the South Central U.S. Examining the Influence of Temperature and Precipitation on Colorado River Water Resources: Reconstructing the Past to Understand the Future Using Genetic Information to Understand Drought Tolerance and Bark Beetle Resistance in Whitebark Pine Forests Improving Characterizations of Future Wildfire Risk in Alaska Examining the Influence of Temperature and Precipitation on Colorado River Water Resources: Reconstructing the Past to Understand the Future Improving Representation of Extreme Precipitation Events in Regional Climate Models Community Resilience to Drought Hazard: An Analysis of Drought Exposure, Impacts, and Adaptation in the South Central U.S. Improving Characterizations of Future Wildfire Risk in Alaska