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Future climate conditions in the Upper Mississippi River Basin are projected to include many more extreme precipitation events. These intense periods of rain can lead to flooding of the Mississippi River itself, as well the small streams and rivers that feed it. This flooding presents a challenge for local communities, farmers, small businesses, river users, and the ecosystems and wildlife in the area. To reduce the damage done by these extreme rainfall events, ‘natural solutions’ are often helpful. This might include preserving forests and grasslands to absorb rainwater before it arrives at streams or restoring wetlands to slow and clean runoff water. For river and natural resource managers to adapt to future climate...
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The Midwest has experienced some of the costliest flooding events in U.S. history, including many billions of dollars during the past decade alone. The Midwest’s susceptibility to flooding has been exacerbated by a long-term increase in total precipitation and extreme rainfalls, with the 2010s being the region’s wettest decade on record Climate models strongly indicate that these recent trends will continue, such that the warming Midwest will experience wetter winters and springs, shortened snow seasons, and extreme year-round precipitation in the future. Despite this high level of confidence in climate trends, there is limited knowledge of how these will translate to flood likelihood and the associated societal...
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Climate change is making coldwater stream fish and their habitats more vulnerable than ever. In the Midwest, warming stream temperatures threaten recreational fishing for brook trout in their native range around the Great Lakes. To ensure that brook trout populations will persist into the future, it is crucial to focus management on areas where brook trout populations are most resilient, and to conduct landscape-level management to increase their resiliency. Resilient coldwater streams have thermal refugia areas where stream temperatures stay colder thanks to influxes of cold water from other water sources, such as groundwater. Existing methods to identify these thermal refugia have relied on either thermal gauges,...
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Many amphibian species are highly susceptible to changes in precipitation timing and volume because of their reliance on intermittently flooded surface water pools, which are primarily filled through snowmelt and precipitation runoff. ​With increasing evapotranspiration (i.e. transfer of water from land to the atmosphere) due to climate change, the timing and availability of water in key amphibian reproductive habitats will likely be altered. This project will assess the future risk to amphibian populations in the Midwest, identifying present and future richness hotspots and those wetland species and populations most at risk of habitat loss due to climate change. The research team will model landscape level changes...
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Wetland conservation in the Upper Mississippi River Basin (UMRB) is a priority for Federal, State, NGO, and Tribal land managers to support migratory bird habitat in Minnesota and Iowa. These wetlands, known as depressional wetlands, also provide ecosystem services associated with flood water storage and enhancing down-stream water quality by storing and processing nutrients. Understanding how conservation efforts and management strategies can impact both wildlife habitat and water quality/quantity issues in the UMRB is critical for helping this region adapt to future precipitation patterns. High intensity rainfall events can cause depressional wetlands to overflow and connect with Mississippi River tributaries....
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Lake sturgeon are a fish of strong subsistence, cultural, and spiritual importance for many Tribal nations. But lake sturgeon are especially vulnerable to climate change given their unique life history and historical mass declines. Therefore, there is a great need to incorporate Tribal perspectives on lake sturgeon shifts and information needs into adaptation planning to conserve these fish in a changing climate. This project aims to synthesize documented and projected potentiall effects of climate change on lake sturgeon; synthesize Indigenous perspectives and experiences with lake sturgeon in a changing climate; and identify information needs, future research avenues, and potential adaptation options to support...
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Rain-on-snow events occur when warm rain falls on an existing snowpack, causing rapid snowmelt that can lead to damaging floods, reduced spring and summer streamflow, and altered stream temperatures, with ecological, social, and economic consequences. Rain-on-snow events can result in a loss of riverine biodiversity, decreases in fisheries production, and degradation of stream habitat; water shortages for communities and reduced water quality; .and have repercussions for navigation and commercial transportation, hydroelectric power generation, recreation, invasive species control, and harbors and marinas. Considering the diverse impacts of rain-on-snow events, it is important to understand how rain-on-snow events...
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Black ash wetlands occupy over 1.2 million hectares of forest in the Great Lakes region, providing habitat for unique and diverse wildlife communities. In these wetlands, black ash trees are a foundational species, regulating all aspects of ecosystem function, and are also an important cultural resource for Native Americans, specifically for basket-makers. Black ash wetlands are critically threatened by the interaction of climate change and the invasive emerald ash borer (EAB), which is expected to spread northward and westward into large expanses of black ash with warming winters. These threats present a significant challenge for long-term conservation efforts to preserve ecosystem functions, cultural lifeways,...
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Climate change presents new and compounding challenges to natural resource management. With shifting climate patterns, managers are confronted with difficult decisions on how to minimize climate impacts to habitats, infrastructure, and wildlife populations. Further, managers lack the information needed to make proactive management decisions. To address this problem, this project will develop a decision and adaptation framework to support site‐level decision‐making that facilitates thoughtful integration of climate change information into formal management and planning processes. In collaboration with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) National Wildlife Refuge System (NWRS), the proposed framework will integrate...
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In ecosystems characterized by flowing water, such as rivers and streams, the dynamics of how the water moves - how deep it is, how fast it flows, how often it floods - have direct effects on the health, diversity, and sustainability of underlying communities. Yet increasingly, climate extremes like droughts and floods are disrupting fragile stream ecosystems by specifically changing their internal aquatic flows. Human infrastructure, such as irrigation and dams, further disrupt these dynamics. These changes in climate and land use are leading to teh fragmentation of aquatic habtiat, degraded water quality, altered sediment transport processes, variation in the timing and duration of floodplain inundation, shifts...
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In 2020, in partnership with the Northeast Climate Adaptation Science Center (NE CASC), the Midwest Climate Adaptation Science Center (MW CASC) completed a four-part process to identify climate science priorities for both the Northeast and Midwest regions. The process included: structured feedback from an advisory committee, the completion of six listening sessions, feedback from project partners, and a review of regional climate initiatives. These efforts identified five management challenges for the MW CASC: 1) heavy precipitation events and drought, 2) loss of winter, 3) altered water levels, flows and temperatures, 4) new terrestrial landscapes resulting from climate change, and 5) barriers and opportunities...
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Floodplain forests along the Upper Mississippi River are heavily managed but understudied systems that provide critical ecosystem services, including habitat for endangered species. Impacts of a changing climate, such as warmer winters and wetter summers with extreme precipitation events, are already influencing hydrologic patterns in these ecosystems, including altering the duration, frequency, and timing of floods. These changes bring numerous challenges to floodplain forest managers. This project will leverage an already established research-management partnership to develop knowledge and tools to inform sustainable decision making. In this project, researchers will utilize multiple sources of “big data” to...
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Habitat loss is splitting the world’s plant and animal populations into smaller, more isolated fragments. At the same time, many organisms must also withstand rapid and stressful changes to their environment. Combined, these factors can increase extinction risk. A possible escape from extinction is through adaptation. Yet, small populations with low genetic diversity may be unable to adapt in time to keep pace with environmental change. One strategy to mitigate these problems is to move individuals from larger, more resilient populations with higher genetic variation into small, declining populations to induce 'genetic rescue'. This project will use cutting-edge genomic tools to evaluate the potential for genetic...
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Climate vulnerability assessments are tools that aid in understanding why specific resources are vulnerable to projected changes in climate. A recently developed online climate vulnerability assessment dashboard (https://www.usgs.gov/apps/CC_Vulnerability/) helps understand where vulnerability is projected to be greatest across watersheds in the Midwest United States (Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, and Wisconsin). This Northeast CASC-funded dashboard was created for, and in cooperation with, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to be useful to various FWS programs in the Midwest. With its broad applicability in mind, the dashboard has high potential to support other groups struggling...


    map background search result map search result map Workshop: Natural Solutions to Ecological and Economic Problems Caused by Extreme Precipitation Events in the Upper Mississippi River Basin Leveraging Genomic Data to Increase Adaptive Potential and Inform Management Action for the Endangered Mitchell's Satyr Butterfly Under Climate Change Identifying Thermal Refugia for Brook Trout Climate Adaptation in Coldwater Streams Assessing the Impacts of Emerald Ash Borer and Adaptation Strategies on Habitat Quality for At Risk Wildlife in Black Ash Forests Climate-Driven Connectivity Between Prairie-Pothole and Riparian Wetlands in the Upper Mississippi River Watershed: Implications for Wildlife Habitat and Water Quality Developing a Decision Making and Climate Adaptation Framework for National Wildlife Refuge System Managers in the Midwest Characterizing Climate-Driven Changes to Flood Events and Floodplain Forests in the Upper Mississippi River to Inform Management The Combined Effects of Seasonal Climate and Extreme Precipitation on Flood Hazard in the Midwest Technical Assessment of Climate Science Needs in the Midwest Improving the Midwest Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment Tool to Support Regional Climate Adaptation Future of Aquatic Flows: Towards a National Synthesis of Streamflow Regimes Under a Changing Climate Future of Aquatic Flows: Exploring Changes in Rain-On-Snow Events and Their Influence on Future Streamflows, Stream Temperatures, and Management Priorities in the Great Lakes Basin Mapping Effects of Wetland Change on Amphibians in the Upper Midwest Indigenous Perspectives on Lake Sturgeon and the Potential Impact of Climate Change Assessing the Impacts of Emerald Ash Borer and Adaptation Strategies on Habitat Quality for At Risk Wildlife in Black Ash Forests Identifying Thermal Refugia for Brook Trout Climate Adaptation in Coldwater Streams Mapping Effects of Wetland Change on Amphibians in the Upper Midwest Workshop: Natural Solutions to Ecological and Economic Problems Caused by Extreme Precipitation Events in the Upper Mississippi River Basin Characterizing Climate-Driven Changes to Flood Events and Floodplain Forests in the Upper Mississippi River to Inform Management The Combined Effects of Seasonal Climate and Extreme Precipitation on Flood Hazard in the Midwest Leveraging Genomic Data to Increase Adaptive Potential and Inform Management Action for the Endangered Mitchell's Satyr Butterfly Under Climate Change Future of Aquatic Flows: Exploring Changes in Rain-On-Snow Events and Their Influence on Future Streamflows, Stream Temperatures, and Management Priorities in the Great Lakes Basin Indigenous Perspectives on Lake Sturgeon and the Potential Impact of Climate Change Developing a Decision Making and Climate Adaptation Framework for National Wildlife Refuge System Managers in the Midwest Technical Assessment of Climate Science Needs in the Midwest Improving the Midwest Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment Tool to Support Regional Climate Adaptation Climate-Driven Connectivity Between Prairie-Pothole and Riparian Wetlands in the Upper Mississippi River Watershed: Implications for Wildlife Habitat and Water Quality Future of Aquatic Flows: Towards a National Synthesis of Streamflow Regimes Under a Changing Climate