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The distribution and abundance of cheatgrass, an invasive annual grass native to Eurasia, has increased substantially across the Intermountain West, including the Great Basin. Cheatgrass is highly flammable, and as it has expanded, the extent and frequency of fire in the Great Basin has increased by as much as 200%. These changes in fire regimes are associated with loss of the native sagebrush, grasses, and herbaceous flowering plants that provide habitat for many native animals, including Greater Sage-Grouse. Changes in vegetation and fire management have been suggested with the intent of conserving Greater Sage-Grouse. However, the potential responses of other sensitive-status birds to these changes in management...
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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...
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Climate projections for the southern Great Plains, and elsewhere in the U.S., indicate that a hotter future with changes in precipitation amount and seasonality is to be expected. As plants become stressed from these changes, wildfire risk increases. One of the most valuable approaches to reducing the impacts of wildfires is fuel reduction through prescribed burns. Fuel reduction helps minimize the destruction of ecological communities, threats of future flooding, and extensive damages by lessening the intensity of future wildfires. Although safe burning practices can largely minimize the risks, prescribed burns may bring some degree of concern among practitioners. The real and perceived risks may include bodily...
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As a low-lying coastal nation, the Republic of the Marshall Islands is at the forefront of exposure to climate change impacts. The Republic of the Marshall Islands has a strong dependence on natural resources and biodiversity not only for food and income but also for culture and livelihood. However, these resources are threatened by rising sea levels and associated coastal hazards (storm surges, saltwater intrusion, erosion, etc.). High-quality data for atoll ‘ridge to reef’ (land and ocean) areas are needed to provide remote communities with the tools and strategies to make adaptation efforts before disasters occur. Although the Republic of the Marshall Islands’ National Strategic Plans recognize the need to...
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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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Road crossings at rivers and streams can create barriers to the movement of migratory fish when they are improperly designed or constructed. Washington State is home to several threatened species of salmon and trout, including bull trout, and recovery plans for these fish include repairing or replacing culverts that currently block their passage. The state is currently looking to replace approximately 1,000 culverts at an estimated cost of $2.45 billion. As engineers re-design these culverts, which typically have a service life of 50-100 years, it will be important to consider how changing climate conditions will impact streams in the region. Climate change is projected to increase peak streamflows, and therefore...
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The Pacific Ocean is home to a number of low-lying, coastal national parks and wildlife refuges. These public lands are situated on coral reef-lined islands that are susceptible to inundation from sea-level rise and flooding during storms. Because of their low-lying nature and limited availability of space, ecosystems, cultural resources, and infrastructure on these islands are particularly vulnerable to flooding. Sea-level rise will further exacerbate the impact of storms on island parks and refuges by increasing wave-driven coastal flooding, with consequences for ecological and human communities alike. However, most assessments of future conditions at coastal national parks and refuges consider only permanent...
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Drought and wildfire pose enormous threats to the integrity of natural resources that land managers are charged with protecting. Recent observations and modeling forecasts indicate that these stressors will likely produce catastrophic ecosystem transformations, or abrupt changes in the condition of plants, wildlife, and their habitats, in regions across the country in coming decades. In this project, researchers will bring together land managers who have experienced various degrees of ecosystem transformation (from not yet experiencing any changes to seeing large changes across the lands they manage) to share their perspectives on how to mitigate large-scale changes in land condition. The team will conduct surveys...
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In the Western U.S., approximately 65% of the water supply comes from forested regions with most of the water that feeds local rivers coming from snowmelt that originates in mountain forests. The Rio Grande headwaters (I.e. the primary water generating region of the Rio Grande river) is experiencing large changes to the landscape primarily from forest fires and bark beetle infestations. Already, 85% of the coniferous forests in this region have been affected by the bark beetle, and projections indicate greater changes will occur as temperatures increase. In this area, most of the precipitation falls as snow in the winter, reaches a maximum depth in the late spring, and melts away due to warmer temperatures by early...
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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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Determining which species, habitats, or ecosystems are most vulnerable to climate change enables resource managers to better set priorities for conservation action. To address the need for information on vulnerability, this research project aimed to leverage the expertise of university partners to inform the North Central Climate Science Center on how to best assess the vulnerability of elements of biodiversity to climate and land use change in order to inform the development and implementation of management options. Outcomes from this activity were expected to include 1) a framework for modeling vegetation type and species response to climate and land use change, 2) an evaluation of existing alternative vegetation...
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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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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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As the National Climate Adaptation Science Center (CASC) develops a strategic effort around fire science, there is a critical need to develop a national-scale synthesis effort that identifies key regional CASC activities previously conducted, as well as major science gaps that may be addressed by a coordinated CASC network approach. The North Central CASC postdoctoral fellow will play a leadership role in the National CASC Climate Adaptation Postdoctoral (CAP) Fellows Future of Fire cohort to help identify the common efforts and leveraging points to shape the national-scale synthesis. Currently there is limited North Central CASC supported fire science available for the North Central region. To meet this need,...
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Frequent, low-intensity wildfires were once widespread across the Southeast US, which led to a reduction in unchecked vegetation growth that provided fuel for high-intensity fires. Both intentional and unintentional fire suppression and land-use changes have reduced many of these wildfires and the fire-adapted habitats in the region over time. This loss of frequent low-intensity wildfires on the landscape also increases the severity of wildfires due to fuel buildup and the encroachment of woody species. The remaining habitats and their native species (many of which are of conservation concern) are now almost completely dependent on prescribed burns for their persistence and survival. Successful application of fire...
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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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USFWS Landscape Conservation Cooperatives (LCCs) throughout the Mississippi River Basin (MRB) have identified high nutrient runoff, a major contributor to Gulf hypoxia, and declines in wildlife populations (especially grassland and riparian birds), as conservation challenges requiring collaborative action. This project aimed to develop a spatial decision support system (DSS) to address these issues. The DSS was designed to identify MRB watersheds where application of conservation practices can (1) reduce nutrient export to the Gulf hypoxia zone and (2) enhance conservation for grassland and riparian birds, based on (3) identifying landowners willing and capable of implementing these practices. The DSS is expected...
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Ecosystem services – the benefits that nature provides to people – are a natural link between ecosystem functions and economic and social impacts. However, climate change is already impacting and altering ecosystem services. Research focused on all aspects of ecosystem services falls within the mission of the Climate Adaptation Science Centers (CASCs). While knowledge of ecosystem services supply is strong, analyses of service delivery and value currently fall outside the research agenda and capacity of the CASCs This project will draw on existing literature and expertise and experiences of CASC leadership and staff to identify the types of ecosystem services and the value of information of CASC research that are...
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A rapidly changing climate and expanding human footprint is driving increased rates of landscape change in the Pacific Northwest. This makes it challenging for managers to know if and to what extent recovery goals and conservation plans for at-risk species need to be modified to account for changing habitat conditions. Addressing this challenge requires accurate, up-to-date information about landscape change and how it affects the habitat and viability of at-risk species. In addition, managers need to be alerted when trends in habitat conditions approach key ecological thresholds, in order to determine if management goals and plans need to be modified in response to these changes. The goal of this project is to...


map background search result map search result map Assessing the Vulnerability of Vegetation to Future Climate in the North Central U.S. Science to Assess Future Conservation Practices for the Mississippi River Basin Examining the Influence of Temperature and Precipitation on Colorado River Water Resources: Reconstructing the Past to Understand the Future Relations Among Cheatgrass, Fire, Climate, and Sensitive-Status Birds across the Great Basin Using Genetic Information to Understand Drought Tolerance and Bark Beetle Resistance in Whitebark Pine Forests Support for the Seventh Annual Northwest Climate Conference Supporting Climate-Resilient Design for In-Stream Restoration and Fish Passage Projects Refining Guidance for Incorporating Climate Science and Scenario Planning into National Park Service Resource Stewardship Strategies An Alert System for Managing At-Risk Species in Cascadia under Climate Change The Impact of Climate Change and Sea-Level Rise on Future Flooding of Coastal Parks and Refuges in Hawaiʻi and the U.S. Affiliated Pacific Islands Creating a North Central Regional Invasive Species and Climate Change (NC RISCC) Management Network Learning From the Past and Planning for the Future: Experience-Driven Insight Into Managing for Ecosystem Transformations Induced by Drought and Wildfire Enhancing Stakeholder Capacity for Coastal Inundation Assessments in the Marshall Islands Estimating the Future Effects of Forest Disturbance on Snow Water Resources in a Changing Environment Developing Products to Increase Climate Science Communication An Ecosystem Services Approach to Climate Adaptation Research Future of Fire in the North Central: Towards a National Synthesis for Wildland Fire Under a Changing Climate Future of Fire in the South Central: Towards a National Synthesis of Wildland Fire Under a Changing Climate Development of an Early Warning System to Identify Changing Prescribed Burn Opportunities Across Southeast US Fire-Adapted Habitats Workshop: Natural solutions to ecological and economic problems caused by extreme precipitation events in the Upper Mississippi River Basin Refining Guidance for Incorporating Climate Science and Scenario Planning into National Park Service Resource Stewardship Strategies Using Genetic Information to Understand Drought Tolerance and Bark Beetle Resistance in Whitebark Pine Forests Supporting Climate-Resilient Design for In-Stream Restoration and Fish Passage Projects Examining the Influence of Temperature and Precipitation on Colorado River Water Resources: Reconstructing the Past to Understand the Future Enhancing Stakeholder Capacity for Coastal Inundation Assessments in the Marshall Islands Support for the Seventh Annual Northwest Climate Conference Relations Among Cheatgrass, Fire, Climate, and Sensitive-Status Birds across the Great Basin Learning From the Past and Planning for the Future: Experience-Driven Insight Into Managing for Ecosystem Transformations Induced by Drought and Wildfire Workshop: Natural solutions to ecological and economic problems caused by extreme precipitation events in the Upper Mississippi River Basin Future of Fire in the South Central: Towards a National Synthesis of Wildland Fire Under a Changing Climate Creating a North Central Regional Invasive Species and Climate Change (NC RISCC) Management Network Developing Products to Increase Climate Science Communication Future of Fire in the North Central: Towards a National Synthesis for Wildland Fire Under a Changing Climate An Alert System for Managing At-Risk Species in Cascadia under Climate Change Assessing the Vulnerability of Vegetation to Future Climate in the North Central U.S. Development of an Early Warning System to Identify Changing Prescribed Burn Opportunities Across Southeast US Fire-Adapted Habitats Science to Assess Future Conservation Practices for the Mississippi River Basin The Impact of Climate Change and Sea-Level Rise on Future Flooding of Coastal Parks and Refuges in Hawaiʻi and the U.S. Affiliated Pacific Islands An Ecosystem Services Approach to Climate Adaptation Research