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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...
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Our project focuses on understanding patterns and causes of recent population declines in the Haleakala silversword that are associated with decreasing precipitation, increasing temperature, and related climate changes in Hawaii’s high-elevation ecosystems. The Haleakala silversword is an ideal taxon with which to assess impacts from climate change. It forms the foundation of a diverse alpine community and likely reflects wider ecological changes; it is already exhibiting patterns of mortality consistent with an upslope shifting distribution; and its high visibility and symbolic status make it unmatched in educational potential. Building on extensive research infrastructure, we propose to collect the demographic...
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Concerns about the influence of climate change on biota have emerged over the past decade, and responses in species populations and distribution patterns have already been documented (Parmesan 1996, Thomas and Lennon 1999). Current climates and communities will not simply migrate, but rather will re-form in novel ways over time (Fox 2007; Hunter et al. 1988; Williams and Jackson 2007). Due to the uncertainty of future climatic patterns and species responses, enduring features of the landscape (geophysical settings) are appropriate targets of assessment, planning, and conservation (Anderson and Ferree 2010, Beier and Brost 2010, Brost and Beier 2012; Hunter et al. 1988). Only recently have enduring features been...
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Researchers with U.S. Geological Survey Water Science Centers in Iowa, Kansas and Massachusetts collaborated to conduct a comprehensive literature search of both published and ongoing research (2000-present) that sheds light on the interactions between climate change, agriculture and water quality across the combined geographies of the Eastern Tallgrass Prairie and Big Rivers LCC and neighboring Upper Midwest and Great Lakes LCC. Project investigators compiled the information in a resource library by geographic location, providing an organized structure for future examination of all research related to interactions between climate change, agriculture and water quality in these two regions.
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This project links climate, hydrological, and ecological changes over the next 30 years in a Great Basin watershed. In recent years, climate variability on annual and decadal time scales has been recognized as greater than commonly perceived with increasing impacts on ecosystems and available water resources. Changes in vegetation distribution, composition and productivity resulting from climate change affect plant water use, which in turn can alter stream flow, groundwater and eventually available water resources. To better understand these links, project researchers implemented two computer-based numeric models in the Cleve Creek watershed in the Schell Creek Range, east of Ely, Nevada. The application of the...
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To understand potential climate change impacts on ecosystems, water resources, and numerous other natural and managed resources, climate change data and projections must be downscaled from coarse global climate models to much finer resolutions and more applicable formats. This project conducted comparative analyses to better understand the accuracy and properties of these downscaled climate simulations and climate-change projections. Interpretation, guidance and evaluation, including measures of uncertainties, strengths and weaknesses of the different methodologies for each simulation, were also provided to enable potential users with the necessary information to select and apply the models.
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One of the greatest ecological, social and economic issues of the day is the problem of climate change. Increasing levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere are increasing global temperatures. Much of the CO2 dissolves in the ocean, creating more acidic conditions and leading to a process known as ocean acidification (OA). Higher temperatures and increased levels of CO2 operating independently are known to be detrimental to corals, but little is known about their effect when operating in unison. Irradiance has a great influence on coral calcification rates and can interact with higher temperature and increased OA to an unknown extent. Therefore, experiments were performed in continuous flow mesocosms under...
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We analyzed the chemical composition of wood produced by Māmane, a tropical tree growing in Hawai’i, in order to reconstruct changes in climate over the Hawaiian Islands. Specifically, we measured changes in the relative abundance of carbon and oxygen isotopes taken up by the trees during photosynthesis at high elevation sites on Mauna Kea. We found that these isotopes reflect the climatic conditions (precipitation and temperature) under which the trees lived, allowing us to reconstruct relative changes in climate extending back ~130 years. Our results indicate decadal-scale changes in precipitation that correlate well with large-scale atmospheric and ocean circulation patterns that dominate much of the Pacific....
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The objective of this experimental research is to determine if genetic enrichment may enhance survival, growth, and adaptation of important native Hawaiian montane plant species to changing precipitation patterns by relocating conspecifics to more favorable climate regimes at higher elevation. We will collect the seeds of montane plants from low_ and high_elevation sources, conduct outplanting trials in common locations along an elevation gradient, and monitor growth, survival, and vigor over a two_year period to evaluate a potential restoration strategy for mountain parklands of Mauna Kea, on the island of Hawaii.
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In the tropics, ample freshwater is the primary resource supporting thriving human and ecological communities. In the Pacific Islands, many watersheds are threatened by climate change, urban encroachment, and invasion by water-demanding exotic plant species like strawberry guava (SG). To maintain an adequate freshwater supply, adaptive management strategies are needed to address these concerns while confronting operational barriers to implementation. We developed a prototype watershed decision support tool (WDST) that incorporated: (i) distributed hydrology modeling to quantify effects of climate change and SG invasion on freshwater yield; (ii) a decision support tool that linked potential changes in yield with...
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To anticipate how weather is likely to change as a result of increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases (such as carbon dioxide) in the atmosphere, geophysical and meteorological scientists examined the results of climate models on the fine scale climate patterns of Hawai’i to understand what future climate will look like. Researchers analyzed the relationship of past rainfall with global processes in order to predict future rainfall patterns. They found that the decades-long decrease in rainfall seen in arid and semiarid regions of Hawai‘i during the rainy season (November-April) is likely to continue. The model results show that all of the Hawaiian Islands get drier overall in the 21st century. Of all the islands,...
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Coral reef ecosystems are exposed to a diverse suite of environmental forcing. Waves, wind, currents, temperature, irradiance, salinity, nutrients, turbidity, aragonite saturation state, and planktonic productivity each influence coral reefs to varying degrees, fluctuating on daily, seasonal and interannual time scales and across spatial scales spanning reefs, islands and archipelagos [1-3]. Environmental forcing is highly influential to reef ecosystem process and function, including coral reef extent and growth rates and the abundance, diversity, and morphology of reef organisms [1, 4]. Through time, coral reef ecosystems have adapted to exist within a particular climatological setting; a finite range in long-term...
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FY2014There is increasing interest in climate change adaptation, particularly since the release of the Presidents Executive Order on Climate Preparedness in November, 2013, yet many field staff remain uncertain how to put adaptation into practice. Our goal with this project is to bridge the gap between the wealth of high-level climate adaptation guidance and the field staff who carry out specific regulatory processes, specifically Habitat Conservation Plans. Following best practices from the literature on linking science and management, we will begin with a focus on what people do rather than on the climate science. We will map the current HCP development and approval process in Region 8, identify where and how...
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Native Americans are one of the most vulnerable populations to climate change in the United States because of their reliance upon the natural environment for food, livelihood, and cultural traditions. In the Southwest, where the temperature and precipitation changes from climate change are expected to be particularly severe, tribal communities may be especially vulnerable. Through this project, researchers sought to better understand the climate change threats facing the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe of northwestern Nevada. Researchers found that the Tribe’s vulnerability to climate change stems from its dependence on Pyramid Lake, which may experience reduced water supply in the future. This will potentially have negative...
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In Hawaiʽi and elsewhere, research efforts have focused on two main approaches to determine the potential impacts of climate change on individual species: estimating species vulnerabilities and projecting responses of species to expected changes. We integrated these approaches by defining vulnerability as the inability of species to exhibit any of the responses necessary for persistence under climate change (i.e., tolerate projected changes, endure in microrefugia, or migrate to new climate-compatible areas, but excluding evolutionary adaptation). To operationalize this response-based definition of species vulnerability within a landscape-based analysis, we used current and future climate envelopes for each species...
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The Mediterranean ecosystems of southern California are some of the most ecologically diverse systems in the world. The diversity of plants and animals, as well as high rates of endemism, make the area a biodiversity hotspot. High diversity in plant and animal species contributes greatly to the health and productivity of ecosystems, and plays an important role in the local and state economy (e.g. tourism, food crops, etc.). San Diego County's complex topography, highly variable precipitation and climate play a large role in determining the biology of the region. Changing temperatures and precipitation patterns due to climate change would alter the region's climate and add to other stressors such as habitat fragmentation...
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Past analysis has shown that temperature-dependent avian malaria is likely to reduce overall available Hawaiian forest bird habitat with temperature increases. We used a comprehensive database of forest bird sightings (over 42,000 points), the most up to date regional climate projections and state-of-the-art ensemble species distribution models to project shifts in distribution of all Hawaiian forest bird species due to climate change. Our results show that all forest bird species are expected to suffer large range losses by end of this century with single island endemics at a greater risk than more widespread species. Because most species require structurally complex forest habitat that may take decades to develop,...
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HaleNet, the climate network on Haleakalā, Maui, is unique in Hawai‘i for its coverage of highly diverse environments, range different climate variables monitored, high temporal resolution, and longterm record. As the record length has grown and climate change has begun to affect Hawai‘i, the value of maintaining and improving this vital network has increased. Support is needed to continue operation and maintenance, replace aging sensors, data loggers, communication equipment, and support structures, and conduct data management and analysis tasks. The overarching goal of this project is to ensure continued operation and maintenance of the HaleNet system, including field operations, equipment maintenance and replacement,...
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FY2015The Great Basin Region, which covers much of Nevada, and portions of California, Oregon, Idaho, and Utah, managers are already confronting a changing climate and are beginning to make management decisions despite uncertainty in how climate change effects will manifest in the region. To support decision making, the Great Basin Landscape Conservation Cooperative (LCC) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Regional Integrated Science Assessment Program (RISA) funded this project to explore how two scenario planning approaches might be used effectively with existing management planning processes and data sources and how to begin prioritizing adaptation strategies. The two approaches used...
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FY2015Researchers conducted interviews with sagebrush land managers from Oregon, Idaho and Utah to identify the most relevant variables, threats and management strategies relevant to their specific sagebrush management areas. Managers were also asked to assess a series of web-based climate tools, providing feedback about what features of the tools were most intuitive, interesting and useful, or complicated, unnecessary, and in need of revision. Results from the first phase of the project suggested several directions to improve existing climate tools.


map background search result map search result map Analysis of Downscaled Climate Simulations and Projections and Their Use in Decision Making for the Southwest Climate Change Vulnerability of the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe in the Southwest Literature search on environmental affects of agricultural practices Reconstructing past Hawaiian precipitation using stable carbon isotope analysis of Māmane trees Climate Change Impacts on Critical Ecosystems in Hawai‘i and US Pacific Islands Territories Field Monitoring and Analysis of Climate Change Across a Wide Range of Ecosystems in Hawai‘i A Tool for Understanding Climate Change and Invasive Species Impacts on Watersheds Synergistic Impacts of Global Warming and Ocean Acidification on Coral Reefs Oceanographic time series and climatologies for the Pacific Islands Regional Climate Assessment Understanding how climate change is affecting Hawaii's high-elevation ecosystems: an assessment of the long-term viability of Haleakala silverswords and associated biological communities A landscape-based assessment of climate change vulnerability for native Hawaiian plants Facilitating Adaptation in Montane Plants to Changing Precipitation along an Elevation Gradient Shifting Hawaiian forest bird distribution under climate change and the need to consider novel conservation strategies Planning for the future of the Great Basin: Using spatially-based planning to inform climate resiliency planning and adaptation strategies Adding Climate Smart Principles into Habitat Conservation Planning Developing Usable Climate Tools for Land Managers Improving Characterizations of Future Wildfire Risk in Alaska Assessing Climate Impacts and Adaptation for Biodiversity and Natural Resources in San Diego County Summary and Initial Evaluation of Enduring Features Information for the Conterminous USA, with Evaluation of Potential Use for Ecoregion Assessment Understanding how climate change is affecting Hawaii's high-elevation ecosystems: an assessment of the long-term viability of Haleakala silverswords and associated biological communities Field Monitoring and Analysis of Climate Change Across a Wide Range of Ecosystems in Hawai‘i Climate Change Vulnerability of the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe in the Southwest Reconstructing past Hawaiian precipitation using stable carbon isotope analysis of Māmane trees A Tool for Understanding Climate Change and Invasive Species Impacts on Watersheds Facilitating Adaptation in Montane Plants to Changing Precipitation along an Elevation Gradient Assessing Climate Impacts and Adaptation for Biodiversity and Natural Resources in San Diego County Climate Change Impacts on Critical Ecosystems in Hawai‘i and US Pacific Islands Territories Synergistic Impacts of Global Warming and Ocean Acidification on Coral Reefs A landscape-based assessment of climate change vulnerability for native Hawaiian plants Shifting Hawaiian forest bird distribution under climate change and the need to consider novel conservation strategies Developing Usable Climate Tools for Land Managers Planning for the future of the Great Basin: Using spatially-based planning to inform climate resiliency planning and adaptation strategies Analysis of Downscaled Climate Simulations and Projections and Their Use in Decision Making for the Southwest Literature search on environmental affects of agricultural practices Adding Climate Smart Principles into Habitat Conservation Planning Summary and Initial Evaluation of Enduring Features Information for the Conterminous USA, with Evaluation of Potential Use for Ecoregion Assessment Improving Characterizations of Future Wildfire Risk in Alaska Oceanographic time series and climatologies for the Pacific Islands Regional Climate Assessment