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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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Maintaining the native prairie lands of the Northern Great Plains (NGP), which provide an important habitat for declining grassland species, requires anticipating the effects of increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) concentrations and climate change on the region’s vegetation. Specifically, climate change threatens NGP grasslands by increasing the potential encroachment of native woody species into areas where they were previously only present in minor numbers. This project used a dynamic vegetation model to simulate vegetation type (grassland, shrubland, woodland, and forest) for the NGP for a range of projected future climates and relevant management scenarios. Comparing results of these simulations illustrates...
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With joint funding from the North Central Climate Science Center (NC CSC) and NASA's Earth Science Applied Sciences Program, the NC CSC supports resource managers and their decision process through its Resource for Vulnerability Assessment, Adaptation and Mitigation Planning (ReVAMP), a collaborative research/planning effort supported by high performance computing and modeling resources. The NC CSC focuses primarily on climate data as input to the ReVAMP. In this project the NASA DEVELOP program was used to evaluate how remote sensing data sets can contribute to the ecological response models that are implemented in the ReVAMP system. This work demonstrates the utility of remote sensing in vulnerability assessment...
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The goal of this project was to inform implementation of the Greater Yellowstone Coordinating Committee (GYCC) Whitebark Pine (WBP) subcommittee’s “WBP Strategy” based on climate science and ecological forecasting. Project objectives were to: 1. Forecast ecosystem processes and WBP habitat suitability across the Greater Yellowstone Area (GYA) under alternative IPCC future scenarios; 2. Improve understanding of possible response to future climate by analyzing WBP/climate relationships in past millennia; 3. Develop WBP management alternatives; 4. Evaluate the alternatives under IPCC future scenarios in terms of WBP goals, ecosystem services, and costs of implementation; and 5. Draw recommendations for implementation...
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Federal land managers need an adaptive management framework to accommodate changing conditions and that allows them to effectively link the appropriate science to natural resource management decision-making across jurisdictional boundaries. FRAME-SIMPPLLE is a collaborative modeling process designed to accomplish this goal by coupling the adaptive capabilities of the SIMPPLLE modeling system with accepted principles of collaboration. The two essential components of the process are FRAME (Framing Research in support of the Adaptive Management of Ecosystems), which creates a collaborative problem-solving environment, and SIMPPLLE (SIMulating Patterns and Processes at Landscape Scales), which is a vegetation dynamics...
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The climate of the North Central U.S. is driven by a combination of factors, including atmospheric circulation patterns, the region’s complex topography which extends from the High Rockies to the Great Plains, and variations in hydrology. Together, these factors determine the sustainability of the region’s ecosystems and the services that they provide communities. In order to understand the vulnerability of the region’s ecosystems to change, it is necessary to have reliable projections of future climate conditions. To address this need, researchers first examined past and present variations in climate and assessed the ability of climate models to effectively project future climate conditions for the region. Second,...
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Climate change is poised to alter natural systems, the frequency of extreme weather, and human health and livelihoods. In order to effectively prepare for and respond to these challenges in the north-central region of the U.S., people must have the knowledge and tools to develop plans and adaptation strategies. The objective of this project was to build stakeholders’ capacity to respond to climate change in the north-central U.S., filling in gaps not covered by other projects in the region. During the course of this project, researchers focused on three major activities: Tribal Capacity Building: Researchers provided tribal colleges and universities with mini-grants to develop student projects to document climate-related...
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The Prairie Pothole Region spans parts of North and South Dakota, Minnesota, Montana, Iowa and south-central Canada and contains millions of wetlands that provide habitat for breeding and migrating birds. Because it is the continent’s most important breeding area for waterfowl, conservation and management largely focuses on protecting habitat for nesting ducks. However, other wetland-dependent birds also rely on this region, and it is important to understand the degree to which habitat conserved for ducks provides habitat for other species, and how the quality of this habitat will be affected by climate change. Project researchers tested whether waterfowl are effective representatives, or surrogates, for other wetland-dependent...
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In response to the potential impacts of climate and land use change to the Nation’s ecosystems, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) launched a series of Rapid Ecoregional Assessments (REAs) in 2010. The REAs are focused on improving our understanding of the current state of ecosystems and how conditions may be impacted by changes in climate, land use, and other stressors. Researchers with the North Central CSC and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) provided climate science support to the Wyoming Basin REA. The Wyoming Basin REA is a landscape-scale ecological assessment of over 33 million acres in Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, Idaho, and Montana. This region has some of the highest quality wildlife...
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Through its Foundational Science Area (FSA) activities, the North Central Climate Science Center (CSC) aims to provide relevant and usable climate information to decision-makers and natural resource managers, so that they can better manage their natural and cultural resources under climate change. Research to meet this objective was implemented in 2013 through three FSAs: (1) Understanding and quantifying drivers of regional climate changes; (2) connecting climate drivers to management targets; and (3) characterizing adaptive capacity of stakeholder communities and informing management options. FSA 1 focused on developing targeted climate information for the North Central region, such as changes in air temperature...
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The North Central Climate Science Center (NC CSC) involved federal, state, tribal, and university partners to implement a pilot study aimed at developing data and information exchange protocols and identifying analytical needs across a broad network of partners. The study was organized around a set of management questions identified by the NC CSC’s partners. Issues related to species, landscapes, and ecosystem connections were used to orient the study across various scales of decision-making. As part of the study, researchers prototyped the use of climate projections in ecosystem, habitat, and wildlife impact models, to inform resource management and planning decisions. Capabilities and constraints associated...
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Hydrologic models are used throughout the world to forecast and simulate streamflow, inform water management, municipal planning, and ecosystem conservation, and investigate potential effects of climate and land-use change on hydrology. The USGS Modeling of Watershed Systems (MoWS) group is currently developing the infrastructure for a National Hydrologic Model (NHM) to support coordinated, comprehensive, and consistent hydrologic model development and application. The NHM is expected to provide internally consistent estimates of total water availability, water sources, and streamflow timing, and measures of uncertainty around these estimates, for the entire United States. VisTrails, a scientific workflow and provenance...
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Colorado State University organized and hosted a workshop aimed at developing an information technology framework for data integration related to climate change impacts on ecosystems and landscape conservation. The workshop included key federal and state agency partners, tribal governments, and universities. The objective of the workshop was to develop an information technology strategy to handle the various data, information, and computational services which the eight regional DOI Climate Science Centers will be responsible for delivering to stakeholders. Issues covered during the workshop included distributed computing and data storage; information security issues across federal, state, university, and public...
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Managers already face uncertainty when making decisions about how to best manage natural resources. Now, climate change is adding an additional level of complexity to resource management decisions. Understanding the ability of human and ecological communities to adapt to changing conditions (known as their adaptive capacity) is an integral component of effective management planning in the face of climate change. So too is identifying ways in which managers can better incorporate information on climate and the vulnerability of resources into their decision-making. This project sought to improve decision-making in the North Central region by developing an approach to managing natural resources that acknowledges...
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Throughout western North America, warming associated with climate change is leading to both earlier spring peak streamflows and earlier seed dispersal, potentially reducing seedling establishment and in turn reducing the quality of riparian (near-river) forests, which provide critical habitat for diverse birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and insects, and food and shade for fish and other aquatic animals. This project aimed to predict these effects of climate change on cottonwood and willow tree regeneration in western forests by linking models of seed dispersal timing, streamflow hydrology, and seedling establishment, focusing on the upper South Platte River Basin as a study area. Results are expected to help...
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Southwestern Colorado is already experiencing the effects of climate change in the form of larger and more severe wildfires, prolonged drought, and earlier snowmelt. Climate scientists expect the region to experience more summer heat waves, longer-lasting and more frequent droughts, and decreased river flow in the future. These changes will ultimately impact local communities and challenge natural resource managers in allocating water under unpredictable drought conditions, preserving forests in the face of changing fire regimes, and managing threatened species under shifting ecological conditions. In light of the wide-ranging potential impacts of climate change in the region, this project sought to help decision-makers...
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Climate affects both the demographics of the Greater sage-grouse bird and the condition and long-term viability of their habitats, including sage-steppe communities. This project builds on collaboration among federal land managers, state wildlife biologists, scientists, and other organizations to create a long-term framework for implementing adaptive management for the sage-grouse. The study examined factors that might be limiting grouse numbers and will investigate components of weather patterns in relation to projected climate change models. Precipitation and temperature, as well as variables such as evaporation and soil moisture, will be considered. Overall, the project focused on (1) providing workshops to foster...
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Climate scientists need more and better information about the needs of decision-makers and managers, while decision-makers need better information about how a changing climate may affect their management and conservation objectives. The goal of this project was to build connections between the Plains and Prairie Potholes Landscape Conservation Cooperative (PPP-LCC), the North Central Climate Science Center (NC CSC), and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Climate Prediction and Projection Pilot Platform (NCPP) to facilitate a link between the users and producers of climate information, as well as to identify gaps between available and desired data. This project developed a conceptual model...
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In the Great Plains, climate change is expected to result in more frequent and intense droughts, severe rainfall events, and heat waves. Adapting to changing conditions will require coordination in the research and observation capabilities of multiple organizations, institutions, and government programs. In light of these needs, researchers worked with federal, state, tribal, university, and non-governmental organization partners to (1) synthesize the current state of ecosystems in the Great Plains; (2) assess the ability of human and ecological communities in the region to adapt to climate change; and (3) develop a process to improve future assessments of the vulnerability of the region’s natural and cultural resources...


    map background search result map search result map Using a Collaborative Modeling Approach to Explore Climate and Landscape Change in the Northern Rockies and Inform Adaptive Management Assessment of Data Integration Capacity Data Integration for Landscape Conservation Workshop Potential Climate Impacts and Adaptation Strategies in the Great Plains Projecting the Future Encroachment of Woody Vegetation into Grasslands of the Northern Great Plains by Simulating Climate Conditions and Possible Management Actions Projecting Future Climate Effects on Cottonwood and Willow Seed Dispersal and Tree Regeneration in Western Riparian Forests Integrating Climate and Biological Data into Management Decisions for the Greater Sage-­Grouse and their Habitats Bringing Together Scientists and Resource Managers to Assess Science Needs and Address Questions Related to Conservation in a Changing Climate Regional Short- and Long-term Climate Impacts on Northern Rocky Mountain and Great Plains Ecosystems Understanding Extreme Climate Events in the North Central U.S. Assessing the Vulnerability of Vegetation to Future Climate in the North Central U.S. Incorporating Adaptive Capacity into Decision-Making in the North Central U.S. Science to Support an Assessment of Future Climate Impacts on Wildlife in Wyoming Developing a VisTrails Platform for Modeling Streamflow Hydrology and Projecting Climate Change Effects on Streamflow Science and Forecasting to Inform Implementation of the Greater Yellowstone Coordinating Committee’s Whitebark Pine Management Strategy Understanding How Climate and Land Use Change Will Impact Wetland-Dependent Birds: Are Waterfowl Effective Surrogates for Other Species? Building Social and Ecological Resilience to Climate Change in Southwestern Colorado: Phase 1 Foundational Science Area Activities (FY2013) Capacity Building in the North-Central U.S.: Tribal Engagement, Climate Training, and PhenoCam Deployment Projecting Future Climate Effects on Cottonwood and Willow Seed Dispersal and Tree Regeneration in Western Riparian Forests Building Social and Ecological Resilience to Climate Change in Southwestern Colorado: Phase 1 Integrating Climate and Biological Data into Management Decisions for the Greater Sage-­Grouse and their Habitats Science to Support an Assessment of Future Climate Impacts on Wildlife in Wyoming Bringing Together Scientists and Resource Managers to Assess Science Needs and Address Questions Related to Conservation in a Changing Climate Projecting the Future Encroachment of Woody Vegetation into Grasslands of the Northern Great Plains by Simulating Climate Conditions and Possible Management Actions Understanding How Climate and Land Use Change Will Impact Wetland-Dependent Birds: Are Waterfowl Effective Surrogates for Other Species? Using a Collaborative Modeling Approach to Explore Climate and Landscape Change in the Northern Rockies and Inform Adaptive Management Assessment of Data Integration Capacity Data Integration for Landscape Conservation Workshop Potential Climate Impacts and Adaptation Strategies in the Great Plains Regional Short- and Long-term Climate Impacts on Northern Rocky Mountain and Great Plains Ecosystems Understanding Extreme Climate Events in the North Central U.S. Incorporating Adaptive Capacity into Decision-Making in the North Central U.S. Foundational Science Area Activities (FY2013) Capacity Building in the North-Central U.S.: Tribal Engagement, Climate Training, and PhenoCam Deployment Assessing the Vulnerability of Vegetation to Future Climate in the North Central U.S. Science and Forecasting to Inform Implementation of the Greater Yellowstone Coordinating Committee’s Whitebark Pine Management Strategy Developing a VisTrails Platform for Modeling Streamflow Hydrology and Projecting Climate Change Effects on Streamflow