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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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Throughout its native range in the Eastern U.S., the brook trout is a culturally and economically important species that is sensitive to warming stream temperatures and habitat degradation. The purpose of this assessment was to determine the impacts that projected future land use and climate changes might have on the condition of stream habitat to support self-sustaining brook trout populations. The study region encompassed the historic native range of brook trout, which includes the northeastern states and follows the Appalachian Mountains south to Georgia, where the distribution is limited to higher elevation streams with suitable water temperatures. Relationships between recent observations of brook trout and...
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Global climate change and sea-level rise will have profound effects on estuarine fish, shellfish and wildlife populations and their habitats. Our ability to manage sustainable fish, shellfish and other wildlife populations in the future will be seriously compromised unless we have a basic understanding of the coming changes and use this to develop mitigation and adaptation measures. The overall objective of this multi-agency research is to develop the baseline climatic and biological data, models, and tools to predict the cumulative impact of climate change on habitats and ecosystem services in a series of coastal estuaries of the Pacific Northwest. In collaboration with other federal, state, and non-governmental...
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The goal of this project is to inform implementation of the Greater Yellowstone Coordinating Committee (GYCC) Whitebark Pine (WBP) subcommittee’s “WBP Strategy” based on climate science and ecological forecasting. Project objectives are to: 1. Forecast ecosystem processes and WBP habitat suitability across the Greater Yellowstone Area (GYA) under alternative IPCC future scenarios; 2. Improve understanding of possible response to future climate by analyzing WBP/climate relationships in past millennia; 3. Develop WBP management alternatives; 4. Evaluate the alternatives under IPCC future scenarios in terms of WBP goals, ecosystem services, and costs of implementation; and 5. Draw recommendations for implementation...
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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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The beaches of the Hawaiian Islands attract nearly 9 million visitors each year, who inject around $15.6 billion into the state’s economy and support almost 200,000 jobs. Beyond their economic importance, Hawaiian beaches are also culturally and ecologically valuable. However, climate change driven sea-level rise is causing many beaches to disappear, endangering property, infrastructure, and critical habitats. The goal of this project was to develop a method for forecasting erosion-vulnerable beach areas that could be used in coastal management planning. Researchers focused on the island of Kauaʻi, modeling beach response to rising sea level over the next century and producing maps that provide information about...
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The Gulf of Alaska is one of the most productive marine ecosystems on Earth, supporting salmon fisheries that alone provide nearly $1 billion per year in economic benefits to Southeast Alaska. Glaciers are central to many of the area’s natural processes and economic activities, but the rates of glacier loss in Alaska are among the highest on Earth, with a 26-36 percent reduction in total volume expected by the end of the century. This project brought together scientists and managers at a workshop to synthesize the impacts of glacier change on the region’s coastal ecosystems and to determine related research and monitoring needs. Collected knowledge shows that melting glaciers are expected to have cascading effects...
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Resource managers, policymakers, and scientists require tools to inform water resource management and planning. Information on hydrologic factors – such as streamflow, snowpack, and soil moisture – is important for understanding and predicting wildfire risk, flood activity, and agricultural and rangeland productivity, among others. Existing tools for modeling hydrologic conditions rely on information on temperature and precipitation. This project sought to evaluate different methods for downscaling global climate models – that is, taking information produced at a global scale and making it useable at a regional scale, in order to produce more accurate projections of temperature and precipitation for the Pacific...
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Assessing the impact of flow alteration on aquatic ecosystems has been identified as a critical area of research nationally and in the Southeast U.S. This project aimed to address the Ecohydrology Priority Science Need of the SE CSC FY2012 Annual Science Work Plan by developing an inventory and evaluation of current efforts and knowledge gaps in hydrological modeling for flow-­‐ecology science in global change impact studies across the Southeast. To accomplish this goal, we completed a thorough synthesis and evaluation of hydrologic modeling efforts in the Southeast region (including all states of the Southeastern Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (SEAFWA) including Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky,...
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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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Hawaiian shorelines and near-shore waters have long been used for cultural activities, food gathering and fishing, and recreation. As seascapes are physically altered by changing climate, the ways in which people experience these environments will likely change as well. Local perspectives of how seascapes are changing over time can help managers better understand and manage these areas for both natural persistence and human use. For this project, researchers conducted interviews and surveys of surfers and other ocean users to gather observations and perceptions of change over time at Hilo Bay, Hawaiʻi. They combined these results with historical data on public beach use and biophysical data from monitoring buoys...
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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...
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Scientists, planners, policy makers and other decision-makers in the South Central U.S. want to understand the potential impacts of changes in climate, precipitation, and land-use patterns on natural and cultural resources. Though the potential impacts of climate change can be modeled to help decision-makers plan for future conditions, these models rarely incorporate changes in land-use that may occur. Climate change and land-use change are often linked, as shifts in precipitation and temperature can alter patterns in human land-use activities, such as agriculture. This project seeks to address this gap by developing new software tools that enable stakeholders to quickly develop custom, climate-sensitive land-use...
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The rugged landscapes of northern Idaho and western Montana support biodiverse ecosystems, and provide a variety of natural resources and services for human communities. However, the benefits provided by these ecosystems may be at risk as changing climate magnifies existing stressors and allows new stressors to emerge. Preparation for and response to these potential changes can be most effectively addressed through multi-stakeholder partnerships, evaluating vulnerability of important resources to climate change, and developing response and preparation strategies for managing key natural resources in a changing world. This project will support climate-smart conservation and management across forests of northern Idaho...
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A limited amount of valid scientific information about global climate change and its detrimental impacts has reached the public and exerted a positive impact on the public policy process or future planning for adaptation and mitigation. This project was designed to address this limitation by bringing together expertise in the social and communication sciences from targeted academic institutions affiliated with the Department of the Interior’s Climate Science Centers (CSCs) through a workshop. The project team brought together expertise in the social and communication sciences from targeted academic institutions, particularly experts and scholars who are affiliated with the nation’s CSCs, by means of an invited...
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Cheatgrass began invading the Great Basin about 100 years ago, changing large parts of the landscape from a rich, diverse ecosystem to one where a single invasive species dominates. Cheatgrass dominated areas experience more fires that burn more land than in native ecosystems, resulting in economic and resource losses. Therefore, the reduced production, or absence, of cheatgrass in previously invaded areas during years of adequate precipitation could be seen as a windfall. However, this cheatgrass dieoff phenomenon creates other problems for land managers like accelerated soil erosion, loss of early spring food supply for livestock and wildlife, and unknown recovery pathways. We used satellite data and scientific...
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Hawaiʻi is considered a worldwide biodiversity hotspot, with nearly 90 percent of its native plants found nowhere else in the world. However, about half of these native plants are imperiled by threats including human development, non-native species, and climate change. Through this project, scientists modeled the relative vulnerability of over 1,000 native plant species to the effects of climate change. A panel of experts in Hawaiian plant species assisted with the development of the model and verified its results. From the model, researchers were able to develop a vulnerability score for each plant species and identify categories of species with high, medium, and low vulnerability to climate change. This information...
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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. More information can be found at the conference website: http://pnwclimateconference.org. The Seventh Annual Northwest Climate Conference...
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Changes in stream temperature can have significant impacts on water quality and the health and survival of aquatic fish and wildlife. Water managers, planners, and decision makers are in need of scientific data to help them prepare for and adapt to changes and conserve important resources. Scientists are tasked with ensuring that this data is produced in useful formats and is accessible to these stakeholders. In October 2015, project researchers hosted and facilitated a 1.5 day workshop, “Data Storage, Dissemination and Harvesting”, that brought together over 50 stakeholders from state and federal agencies, tribal governments, universities, and non-profit organizations interested in monitoring stream temperature...
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The Southeastern U.S. spans broad ranges of physiographic settings and contains a wide variety of aquatic systems that provide habitat for hundreds of endemic aquatic species that pose interesting challenges and opportunities for managers of aquatic resources, particularly in the face of climate change. For example, the Southeast contains the southernmost populations of the eastern brook trout and other cold-water dependent species. Climate change is predicted to increase temperatures in the South and is likely to have a substantial effect on extant populations of cold-water biota. Thus, aquatic managers are tasked with developing strategies for preserving cold-water dependent biota, such as eastern brook trout,...


map background search result map search result map Predicting Climate Change Threats to Key Estuarine Habitats and Ecosystem Services in the Pacific Northwest Modeling Effects of Climate Change on Cheatgrass Die-Off Areas in the Northern Great Basin Improving Projections of Hydrology in the Pacific Northwest USGS-USFS Partnership to Help Managers Evaluate Conservation Strategies for Aquatic Ecosystems based on Future Climate Projections Projecting the Future Encroachment of Woody Vegetation into Grasslands of the Northern Great Plains by Simulating Climate Conditions and Possible Management Actions Building Capacity within the CSC Network to Effectively Deliver and Communicate Science to Resource Managers and Planners From Icefield to Ocean: Glacier Change Impacts to Alaska’s Coastal Ecosystems Projected Vulnerability of Brook Trout to Climate and Land Use Changes in the Eastern U.S. (Regional Assessment) Establishing Climate Change Vulnerability Rankings for Hawaiian Native Plants Science and Forecasting to Inform Implementation of the Greater Yellowstone Coordinating Committee’s Whitebark Pine Management Strategy Community Resilience to Drought Hazard: An Analysis of Drought Exposure, Impacts, and Adaptation in the South Central U.S. Moving from Awareness to Action: Informing Climate Change Vulnerability Assessments and Adaptation Planning for Idaho and Montana National Forests Forecasting Beach Loss from Sea-Level Rise on the Island of Kauaʻi Changing Hawaiian Seascapes and Their Management Implications Forecasting Future Changes in Sagebrush Distribution and Abundance Using Genetic Information to Understand Drought Tolerance and Bark Beetle Resistance in Whitebark Pine Forests Support for the Seventh Annual Northwest Climate Conference Building a Decision-Support Tool for Assessing the Impacts of Climate and Land Use  Change on Ecological Processes Prioritizing Stream Temperature Data Collection to Meet Stakeholder Needs and Inform Regional Analyses Forecasting Beach Loss from Sea-Level Rise on the Island of Kauaʻi Changing Hawaiian Seascapes and Their Management Implications Predicting Climate Change Threats to Key Estuarine Habitats and Ecosystem Services in the Pacific Northwest Modeling Effects of Climate Change on Cheatgrass Die-Off Areas in the Northern Great Basin Establishing Climate Change Vulnerability Rankings for Hawaiian Native Plants Moving from Awareness to Action: Informing Climate Change Vulnerability Assessments and Adaptation Planning for Idaho and Montana National Forests Support for the Seventh Annual Northwest Climate Conference Projecting the Future Encroachment of Woody Vegetation into Grasslands of the Northern Great Plains by Simulating Climate Conditions and Possible Management Actions Improving Projections of Hydrology in the Pacific Northwest Forecasting Future Changes in Sagebrush Distribution and Abundance Building Capacity within the CSC Network to Effectively Deliver and Communicate Science to Resource Managers and Planners Community Resilience to Drought Hazard: An Analysis of Drought Exposure, Impacts, and Adaptation in the South Central U.S. Building a Decision-Support Tool for Assessing the Impacts of Climate and Land Use  Change on Ecological Processes Projected Vulnerability of Brook Trout to Climate and Land Use Changes in the Eastern U.S. (Regional Assessment) USGS-USFS Partnership to Help Managers Evaluate Conservation Strategies for Aquatic Ecosystems based on Future Climate Projections From Icefield to Ocean: Glacier Change Impacts to Alaska’s Coastal Ecosystems Science and Forecasting to Inform Implementation of the Greater Yellowstone Coordinating Committee’s Whitebark Pine Management Strategy Prioritizing Stream Temperature Data Collection to Meet Stakeholder Needs and Inform Regional Analyses