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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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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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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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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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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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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....
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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The Museum of Northern Arizona will leverage tools previously developed through its Springs Stewardship Initiative to help resource managers in the southwestern U.S. collect, analyze, report upon, monitor and archive the complex and inter-related information associated with springs and spring-dependent species in the region. Building upon those past efforts, the project will include compilation of existing springs-related information to make the information more readily available online and further development of interactive online maps and climate change risk assessment tools of springs-dependent sensitive plant and animal species. This project builds on an effort funded in FY 2013 to complete similar work for...
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California - one of the nation's most populous states - hosts extensive public lands, crown-jewel national parks, and diverse natural resources. Resource managers in federal, state, tribal, and local agencies face challenges due to environmental changes and extreme events such as severe droughts, heat waves, flood events, massive wildfires, and forest dieback. However, state-of-the-art research that could aid in the management of natural resources facing these challenges is typically slow to be applied, owing to limited time and capacity on the part of both researchers and managers. This project aims to accelerate the application of science to resource management by facilitating the translation and synthesis of...
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A major goal of the Climate Science Center network is to conduct science and develop timely science products and tools that are directly relevant and useful to decision-makers and natural resource managers. A crucial first step in producing this actionable science is understanding the highest priority science and information needs of natural resource managers and planners. Through this project, the Southwest Climate Science Center will conduct a structured rapid assessment to identify and understand manager needs and priorities in the Southwest region. The project team will also work directly with managers and stakeholders to assess their perceptions regarding the co-production of science and preferences on...
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Resource managers must balance the impacts of competing management decisions on multiple, interacting natural systems. Hydrologic and ecological processes, such as groundwater fluctuations and riparian evapotranspiration, can be tightly coupled. Ideally, managers would have tools and models that include all processes to better understand how each management action would propagate through the environment. Because resources are limited, management tools that include only the most important processes may be more realistic. However, in some cases, omitting some interactions can lead to significant errors in predictions of hydrologic outcomes and ecological function, severely limiting a manager’s ability to identify...
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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...
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The goals of this project were to: (1) produce a state-of-the-art assessment and synthesis of climate change projections, impacts, vulnerabilities, adaptive capacity, and prospects for mitigation and adaptation actions in the Southwest in support of the regional contribution to the National Climate Assessment; (2) develop an inventory of federal partners and stakeholders involved with climate adaptation programs, and (3) forge stronger bonds between the DOI-SW CSC, the three NOAA-RISAs in the Southwest, and the Landscape Conservation Cooperatives.
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In many places around the world, spring events, like warming temperatures, are coming earlier and fall events are coming later than they have in the past. These changes have implications for the phenology, or the timing of natural life events (e.g. the timing of plant flowering in Spring or leaves falling in Autumn), of many plant species. However, not all species and regions are changing at the same rate, which can lead to mismatches (e.g. between the emergence of plants and pollinators in early spring). Many interactions in nature depend on timing and, as such, phenology affects nearly all aspects of the environment, including the abundance, distribution, and diversity of organisms, ecosystem services, food webs,...
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In the dry southwestern United States, snowmelt plays a crucial role as a water source for people, vegetation, and wildlife. However, snow droughts significantly lower snow accumulations, disrupting these critical water supplies for local communities and ecosystems. Despite its large influence on land- and water-resource management, snow drought has only recently been properly defined and its historical distribution and effects on key natural resources are essentially unknown. To remedy this serious knowledge gap, project researchers are examining the causes, effects, and forecastability of snow drought to provide needed scientific information and guidance to planners and decision makers. The central goals of...
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Digital representation of Brown and Lowe's "Biotic Communites of the Southwest" map (1979) developed by The Nature Conservancy in Arizona (2004).
This dataset contains both the inputs and outputs generated as part of the Vulnerability assessment, including indicators of Exposure (the magnitude of climatic or ecological changes within the target landscape), Sensitivity (the response of targets to exposure), and Adaptive Capacity (the potential of the target to cope with exposure). These spatial datasets can be used to construct maps that classify areas according to the presence of vulnerable components.
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The goal of this project was to: (a) archive the relevant AR5 model output data for the southwest region; (b) downscale daily temperature and precipitation to 12 X 12 km cell spatial resolution over the Southwest; (c) assess the precision (degree of agreement) of the simulated models; (d) assess the direction and magnitude of change in projections between AR4 and AR5, as well as assess projections of key extreme climatic events (i.e., extreme drought, extreme seasonal precipitation, extreme high and low temperature events); and (e) assess critical ecosystem impacts (i.e., climate water deficit and fire; hydrological condition of major river systems; impacts on highly valued species).


map background search result map search result map Assessment of Available Climate Models and Projections for the Southwest Region Synthesis of Current Science and Assessment of Science Needs for Adaptation in the Southwest 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 Brown and Lowe's Biotic Communities of the Southwest Developing a Geodatabase and Geocollaborative Tools to Support Springs and Springs Dependent Species Assessing the Impacts of Restoration Efforts on Water and Natural Systems in a Changing World 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 Learning From Recent Snow Droughts To Improve Forecasting of Water Availability for People and Forests Understanding Changes to the Timing of Natural Events (Phenology) for Plants in the Water-Limited Southwest Southwest Exotic Mapping Program (SWEMP) Database, 2007 Assessing Stakeholder Needs for Effective Actionable Science Preventing Extreme Fire Events by Learning from History: The Effects of Wind, Temperature, and Drought Extremes on Fire Activity Improving and Accelerating the Application of Science to Natural Resource Management in California Leaf to Landscape: Understanding and Mapping the Vulnerability of Forests to Hotter Droughts Assessing the Impacts of Restoration Efforts on Water and Natural Systems in a Changing World The Impact of Drought on Waterbirds and Their Wetland Habitats in California’s Central Valley Examining the Influence of Temperature and Precipitation on Colorado River Water Resources: Reconstructing the Past to Understand the Future Developing a Geodatabase and Geocollaborative Tools to Support Springs and Springs Dependent Species Preventing Extreme Fire Events by Learning from History: The Effects of Wind, Temperature, and Drought Extremes on Fire Activity Improving and Accelerating the Application of Science to Natural Resource Management in California Relations Among Cheatgrass, Fire, Climate, and Sensitive-Status Birds across the Great Basin Assessment of Available Climate Models and Projections for the Southwest Region Understanding Changes to the Timing of Natural Events (Phenology) for Plants in the Water-Limited Southwest Assessing Stakeholder Needs for Effective Actionable Science Southwest Exotic Mapping Program (SWEMP) Database, 2007 Brown and Lowe's Biotic Communities of the Southwest Learning From Recent Snow Droughts To Improve Forecasting of Water Availability for People and Forests Synthesis of Current Science and Assessment of Science Needs for Adaptation in the Southwest Climate Change and Federal Land Management: Assessing Priorities Using a Social Network Approach