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Fire has always been a part of life in southern California. Climate change and current fire management practices have led to catastrophic losses and impacts to human health, infrastructure and ecosystems, as seen, for example, in the 2018 Montecito debris flow. Indigenous wisdom instructs that rather than suppressing fire, we should seek to be in good relationship with fire. This project centers the voices of Chumash people by revitalizing their good relationship with fire in Chumash homelands. This revitalization comes at a critical time for both fire management and revitalization of Indigenous cultural burning practices in the southwest. The project will enable the recovery and documenting of Chumash knowledge...
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Natural resource managers and researchers often need long-term averages of historical and future climate scenarios for their study area yet may not have the resources to make these summaries. This project will provide high quality, detailed maps of historical and projected future climate and hydrologic conditions for California and a finer scale version for southern California. The project will also assess the feasibility of expanding these reference data to the southwestern US and identify the most suitable online data portals for the public to view and analyze the data in support of local initiatives. The map products can be used to assess the impacts of ongoing climate change and to develop climate adaptation...
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The 2017 fire season in California was highly unusual with its late seasonal timing, the areal extent it burned, and its devastation to communities. These fires were associated with extreme winds and were potentially also influenced by unusually dry conditions during several years leading up to the 2017 events. This fire season brought additional attention and emphasized the vital need for managers in the western U.S. to have access to scientific information on when and where to expect dangerous fire events. Understanding the multiple factors that cause extreme wildfire events is critical to short and long-term forecasting and planning. Seasonal climate measures such as temperature and precipitation are commonly...
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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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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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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...
Range managers in the Southwestern States are increasingly being required to develop management strategies that take into consideration the conservation of wildlife populations. However, information on many aspects of the fundamental biology and impacts of grazing on individual species is still lacking in the scientific and government literature. This report documents a project designed to assemble this information for terrestrial wildlife in Arizona and New Mexico that have the potential to be negatively impacted by grazing or range management practices. To achieve this, a two-stage panel process was developed that employed a variety of wildlife experts to create a list of potentially vulnerable species and to...
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Forests across the southwestern U.S. are crucial components of recreation and play an important role in state and local economies. Healthy forests also provide needed habitat for many wildlife species and contribute many other important services to our planet. “Hotter droughts” (otherwise normal droughts whose effects on ecosystems are exacerbated by higher temperatures) are an emerging climate change threat to forests with some of their earliest and strongest appearances happening in the Southwest. The Leaf to Landscape project uses California’s unusually hot drought as a potential preview of the future, allowing us to collect information that will help guide forest management in the face of a warming climate....
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California’s Central Valley is a nexus for water resources in the state, draining the Sacramento and San Joaquin River watersheds. Urban centers, agricultural operations, and the environment all compete for limited water, and demand is expected to only increase as the population grows and agriculture intensifies. At the same time, the water supply is projected to decrease as temperatures rise, precipitation patterns change, and the frequency of extreme droughts increases. The Central Valley also provides critical wetland habitats to migratory waterbirds, and wetland managers require information on how to best use water resources to support wildlife objectives, particularly during drought. This project seeks to...
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Climate Change threatens efforts to restore and protect the natural and cultural resources vital to the traditional ways of life of Northern California Tribes. The state has indicated the need to include Tribal science priorities and Tribal management objectives into regional planning and policy. Moreover, Governor Newsom’s recent Executive Order N-82-20 aims to combat the biodiversity and climate change crises in California using nature-based solutions. Tribes, however, are at different phases of developing climate adaptation/ resiliency plans and, in many cases, have yet to have the opportunity to align these plans with neighboring Tribes or to include Tribal science in regional and statewide plans. As a result,...
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Recently intensifying drought conditions have caused increased stress to non-native tamarisk vegetation across riparian areas of the San Carlos Apache Tribe (hereafter Tribe) and the Upper Gila River watershed in Arizona and New Mexico. This also increases wildfire risk in the area, making the removal of tamarisk vegetation a primary restoration and climate adaptation objective for the Tribe. The research from this project can improve the Tribe’s capacity to map tamarisk and other riparian vegetation, in addition to monitoring the relative condition and water stress of the vegetation in a timely manner. Specifically, the project will help identify where tamarisk is on the reservation and inform restoration actions...
Recent Warming This is an initiative to document and understand the science of recent climate warming in the region and implications for natural resources management. SW CASC researchers from Colorado State University, Scripps Institution of Oceanography at University of California-San Diego, and University of Arizona, and their partners, are identifying the extent to which temperature, wind speed, solar radiation, and humidity affect regional aridification. By improving scientific understanding of the mechanisms of aridification, the team aims to inform water management, irrigated agriculture, and the characterization of drought and wildfire risks. The team is developing papers on (a) scientific investigation...
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The fast pace of change in coastal zones, the trillions of dollars of investment in human communities in coastal areas, and the myriad of ecosystem services natural coastal environments provide makes managing climate-related risks along coasts a massive challenge for all of the U.S. coastal states and territories. Answering questions about both the costs and the benefits of alternative adaptation strategies in the near term is critical to taxpayers, decision-makers, and to the biodiversity of the planet. There is significant public and private interest in using ecosystem based adaptation approaches to conserve critical significant ecosystems in coastal watersheds, estuaries and intertidal zones and to protect man-made...
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Indigenous knowledge systems, such as traditional ecological knowledge, contain climate observations and adaptation strategies reaching back millennia. These include methods for caring for our natural resources and relations, such as through drought resilient agriculture, soil, and water management practices. Despite a growing global recognition among researchers and resource managers of the value of Indigenous knowledges and practices for enhancing human capacity to adapt to climate change impacts, we face historic inequities that hinder cross-cultural knowledge exchange and innovation. This includes a tendency towards extractive research, accessing Indigenous knowledges without regarding Indigenous decision-making...
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We are seeking to better understand networks among resource managers with respect to developing plans for climate change adaptation. We are pursuing this through a network analysis based on a survey of federal resource management staff and scientists in the southwestern and Midwestern U.S. Originally planned, this study was conceived to cover the Southwest and North Central Climate Science Centers, as defined by the USGS. In practice, surveys are most easily distributed within regions as defined by the federal resource agencies. Unfortunately, there is no uniform set of regions. We have tried to be comprehensive in our survey and cover at least the North Central and Southwestern Region.
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The Southwest Exotic Plant Mapping Program (SWEMP) is a collaborative effort between the United States Geological Survey and federal, tribal, state, county and non-governmental organization (NGO) partners in the southwest. This project is an ongoing effort to compile and distribute regional data on the occurrence of non-native invasive plants in the southwestern United States. The database represents the known sites (represented by a point location, i.e. site) of non-native invasive plant infestations within Arizona and New Mexico, and adjacent portions of California, Colorado, Nevada and Utah. These data, collected from 1911 to 2006, represent the field observations of various state, federal, tribal and county...
The Southwest Regional Gap Analysis Project (SWReGAP) is an update of the Gap Analysis Program’s mapping and assessment of biodiversity for the five-state region encompassing Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, and Utah. It is a multi-institutional cooperative effort coordinated by the U.S. Geological Survey Gap Analysis Program. The primary objective of the update is to use a coordinated mapping approach to create detailed, seamless GIS maps of land cover, all native terrestrial vertebrate species, land stewardship, and management status, and to analyze this information to identify those biotic elements that are underrepresented on lands managed for their long term conservation or are “gaps.”
This interactive workshop was designed to provide background information and stimulate discussion on the effects of climate variability, possible natural and human-related long-term climate change, and land-use change in the rapidly-growing southwestern United States. This information will be used by the U.S. Global Change Research Program as part of a national assessment of Global Change issues. This web conference was open for interactive participation from Monday, July 7 through Friday, July 25, 1997. The articles and comments will remain available indefinitely.
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These data were compiled for the creation of a continuous, transboundary land cover map of Bird Conservation Region 33, Sonoran and Mojave Deserts (BCR 33). Objective(s) of our study were to, 1) develop a machine learning (ML) algorithm trained to classify vegetation land cover using remote sensing spectral data and phenology metrics from 2013-2020, over a large subregion of the Sonoran and Mojave Deserts BCR, 2) Calibrate, validate, and refine the final ML-derived vegetation map using a collection of openly sourced remote sensing and ground-based ancillary data, images, and limited fieldwork, and 3) Harmonize a new transboundary classification system by expanding existing land cover mapping resources from the United...
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Riparian systems are critical to the human and ecological communities that interact with them. For the members of San Carlos Apache Tribe, this is particularly true, as riparian systems provide immense cultural and natural values such as ceremonial grounds and recreation areas. However, the riparian areas within the San Carlos Apache Reservation are at risk of degradation due to climate change and land use. Over the past several decades, invasive vegetation, changes in river discharge, and increased wildfire activity have continued to threaten the area’s riparian resources. This project aims to inform riparian restoration efforts by providing products that: identify historic vegetation and river channel properties,...


map background search result map search result map Climate Change and Federal Land Management: Assessing Priorities Using a Social Network Approach 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 The Impact of Drought on Waterbirds and Their Wetland Habitats in California’s Central Valley Leaf to Landscape: Understanding and Mapping the Vulnerability of Forests to Hotter Droughts Southwest Exotic Mapping Program (SWEMP) Database, 2007 Preventing Extreme Fire Events by Learning from History: The Effects of Wind, Temperature, and Drought Extremes on Fire Activity Evaluating Ecosystem-Based Adaptation Options for Coastal Resilience Learning From the Past and Planning for the Future: Experience-Driven Insight Into Managing for Ecosystem Transformations Induced by Drought and Wildfire Mapping Riparian Vegetation Response to Climate Change on the San Carlos Apache Reservation and Upper Gila River Watershed to Inform Restoration Priorities: 1935 to Present (Phase 1) Northern California Tribal Climate Adaptation and Science Integration Research Project Cycles of Renewal: Returning Good Fire to the Chumash Homelands Shifting from Extractive to Self-determined: Enhancing Indigenous Research and Data Governance in Southwest Climate Adaptation Initiatives Random forest classification data developed from multitemporal Landsat 8 spectral data and phenology metrics for a subregion in Sonoran and Mojave Deserts, April 2013 – December 2020 Mapping Riparian Vegetation Response to Climate Change on the San Carlos Apache Reservation and Upper Gila River Watershed to Inform Restoration Priorities: 1935 to Present (Phase 2) Rendering High-Resolution Hydro-Climatic Data for Southern California Leaf to Landscape: Understanding and Mapping the Vulnerability of Forests to Hotter Droughts Mapping Riparian Vegetation Response to Climate Change on the San Carlos Apache Reservation and Upper Gila River Watershed to Inform Restoration Priorities: 1935 to Present (Phase 2) Cycles of Renewal: Returning Good Fire to the Chumash Homelands Northern California Tribal Climate Adaptation and Science Integration Research Project The Impact of Drought on Waterbirds and Their Wetland Habitats in California’s Central Valley Random forest classification data developed from multitemporal Landsat 8 spectral data and phenology metrics for a subregion in Sonoran and Mojave Deserts, April 2013 – December 2020 Examining the Influence of Temperature and Precipitation on Colorado River Water Resources: Reconstructing the Past to Understand the Future Mapping Riparian Vegetation Response to Climate Change on the San Carlos Apache Reservation and Upper Gila River Watershed to Inform Restoration Priorities: 1935 to Present (Phase 1) Preventing Extreme Fire Events by Learning from History: The Effects of Wind, Temperature, and Drought Extremes on Fire Activity Relations Among Cheatgrass, Fire, Climate, and Sensitive-Status Birds across the Great Basin Rendering High-Resolution Hydro-Climatic Data for Southern California Learning From the Past and Planning for the Future: Experience-Driven Insight Into Managing for Ecosystem Transformations Induced by Drought and Wildfire Shifting from Extractive to Self-determined: Enhancing Indigenous Research and Data Governance in Southwest Climate Adaptation Initiatives Southwest Exotic Mapping Program (SWEMP) Database, 2007 Climate Change and Federal Land Management: Assessing Priorities Using a Social Network Approach Evaluating Ecosystem-Based Adaptation Options for Coastal Resilience