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These videos were recorded as part of an online interactive course titled "Managing for a Changing Climate", offered by the University of Oklahoma. The course is free and available worldwide for anyone with an internet connection through the Janux platform. Course content and assignments provide students with an integrative understanding of the climate system, the role of natural variability in the climate system, external drivers of climate change, and the implications of climactic shifts for natural and cultural resources. Resources managers, tribal environmental professionals, staff and students at other Climate Science Centers and Landscape Conservation Cooperatives, and members of the general public can participate...
Abstract (from http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11069-016-2376-z): Drought is among the most insidious types of natural disasters and can have devastating economic and human health impacts. This research analyzes the relationship between two readily accessible drought indices—the Palmer Drought Severity Index (PDSI) and Palmer Hydrologic Drought Index (PHDI)—and the damage incurred by such droughts in terms of monetary loss, over the 1975–2010 time period on monthly basis, for five states in the south-central USA. Because drought damage in the Spatial Hazards Events and Losses Database for the United States (SHELDUS™) is reported at the county level, statistical downscaling techniques were used to estimate...
Abstract (from http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/gdj3.47/abstract): Two datasets of soil temperature observations collected at Norman, Oklahoma, USA, were analysed to study horizontal and vertical variability in their observations. The first dataset comprised 15-min resolution soil temperature observations from 20 September 2011 to 18 November 2013 in seven plots across a 10-m transect. In each plot, sensors were located at depths of 5, 10, and 30 cm. All seven plots observed fairly consistent maximum soil temperature observations during the spring, fall, and winter months. Starting in late May, the observed spread in soil temperatures across the 10-m transect increased significantly until August when the...
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The threat of droughts and their associated impacts on the landscape and human communities has long been recognized in the United States, especially in high risk areas such as the South Central region. There is ample literature on the effects of long-term climate change and short-term climate variability on the occurrence of droughts. However, it is unclear whether this information meets the needs of relevant stakeholders and actually contributes to reducing the vulnerability or increasing the resilience of communities to droughts. For example, are the methods used to characterize the severity of drought – known as drought indices – effective tools for predicting the actual damage felt by communities? As droughts...
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Scientists, planners, policy makers and other decision-makers in the South Central U.S. want to understand the potential impacts of changes in climate, precipitation, and land-use patterns on natural and cultural resources. Though the potential impacts of climate change can be modeled to help decision-makers plan for future conditions, these models rarely incorporate changes in land-use that may occur. Climate change and land-use change are often linked, as shifts in precipitation and temperature can alter patterns in human land-use activities, such as agriculture. This project sought to address this gap by developing new software tools that enable stakeholders to quickly develop custom, climate-sensitive land-use...
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The South Central U.S. is one of the main agricultural regions in North America: annual agricultural production is valued at more than $44 billion dollars. However, as climate conditions change, the region is experiencing more frequent and severe droughts, with significant impacts on agriculture and broader consequences for land management. For example, in 2011 drought caused an estimated $7.6 billion in agricultural losses in Texas and an additional $1.6 billion in Oklahoma. Although there are many drought monitoring tools available, most of these tools were developed without input from the stakeholders, such as farmers and ranchers, who are intended to use them. The goal of this project was to assess the information...
Abstract (From http://journals.ametsoc.org/doi/abs/10.1175/JHM-D-15-0062.1): Over mountainous terrain, ground weather radars face limitations in monitoring surface precipitation as they are affected by radar beam blockages along with the range-dependent biases due to beam broadening and increase in altitude with range. These issues are compounded by precipitation structures that are relatively shallow and experience growth at low levels due to orographic enhancement. To improve surface precipitation estimation, researchers at the University of Oklahoma have demonstrated the benefits of integrating the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) Precipitation Radar (PR) products into the ground-based NEXRAD rainfall...
This webinar is part of a series featuring South Central Climate Science Center researchers studying the Rio Grande, a critical water resource for people and wildlife. Learn more at southcentralclimate.org and view the other webinars in this series here.
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Wildfires scorched 10 million acres across the United States in 2015, and for the first time on record, wildfire suppression costs topped $2 billion. Wildfire danger modeling is an important tool for understanding when and where wildfires will occur, and recent work by our team in the South Central United States has shown wildfire danger models may be improved by incorporating soil moisture information. Advancements in wildfire danger modeling may increase wildfire preparedness, and therefore decrease loss of life, property, and habitat due to wildfire. Still, soil moisture—an important determinant of wildfire risk—is not currently used for wildfire danger assessments because data are generally unavailable at the...
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The Rio Grande River is a critical source of freshwater for 13 million people in Colorado, Texas, New Mexico, and Mexico. More than half of the Rio Grande’s streamflow originates as snowmelt in Colorado’s mountains, meaning that changes in the amount of snowmelt can impact the water supply for communities along the entire river. Snowmelt runoff is therefore an important component of water supply outlooks for the region, which are used by a variety of stakeholders to anticipate water availability in the springtime. It is critical that these water supply outlooks be as accurate as possible. Errors can cost states millions of dollars due to mis-allocation of water and lost agricultural productivity. There is a perception...
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Many shorebirds and nearshore waterbirds are of conservation concern across the Gulf of Mexico due to stressors such as human disturbance, predation, and habitat loss and degradation. Conservation and protection of these birds is important for the functioning of healthy ecosystems and for maintaining biodiversity in North America. Consequently, resource managers along the gulf need decision-aiding tools that can efficiently help to answer important conservation questions for different species (e.g. which areas and how much area should be targeted by management actions to meet a particular species’ needs). To address this need, project researchers are developing statistical models that will help identify habitat...
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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...
This guide is intended to provide lessons learned and best practices for developing and implementing an early-career researcher-based training, including integrating educational sessions on interdisciplinary topics. Such a guide can be useful as a blueprint for future regional or national trainings that bring together students, post-docs, and early-career faculty members from research organizations, such as the USGS Climate Science Centers. The following guide is split into pre-event, the event itself, and post-event items to consider.
Daily streamflow and reservoir water elevation data for modeled locations in the Red River Basin. Values reported are for 18 different GCM (Global Climate Model) / RCP (Representative Concentration Pathway) / GDM Downscaling scenarios. Climate data from each scenario was input into a Variable Infiltration Capacity (VIC) model, that output flow values. These values were then input into RiverWare, to determine the impacts on regulated flows, lake levels and water availability. RiverWare was used for this project, because of its ability to simulate water use, reservoir operations, and local/interstate regulations.
The south-central U.S. exists in a zone of dramatic transition in terms of eco-climate system diversity. Ecosystems across much of the region rely on warm-season convective precipitation. These convective precipitation is subject to large uncertainties under climate change scenario, possibly leading to gradual or sudden changes in habitats, and ecosystems. The convective precipitation in this region, occurring on a range of time and space scales, is extremely challenging to predict in future climate scenario. In this project, we established a unique, cutting-edge, dynamic downscaling capability to address the challenge of predicting precipitation in the south-central U.S. in current and future climate scenarios....
Abstract (from http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11258-016-0568-y): Resprouting is a key functional trait for species in disturbance prone environments. In many semi-arid environments, woody plants face both fire and drought as recurring disturbances. Past work has demonstrated that oaks inhabiting sky-island forests of the northern Sierra Madre Oriental have differing microhabitat preferences and heavy stem dieback occured during the historic 2011 drought indicating potential xylem failure. These oak species, representing two sections within the genus, are all post-fire resprouters: they can resprout from underground storage organs when fire kills above ground tissue. Resprouts provide an opportunity to...
Abstract (from Wiley): An estimate of a river's natural flow regime is useful for water resource planning and ecosystem rehabilitation by providing insight into the predisturbance form and function of a river. The natural flow regime of most rivers has been perturbed by development during the 20th century and in some cases, before stream gaging began. The temporal resolution of natural flows estimated using traditional methods is typically not sufficient to evaluate cues that drive native ecosystem function. Additionally, these traditional methods are watershed specific and require large amounts of data to produce accurate results. We present a mass balance method that estimates natural flows at daily time step...
Abstract (from http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10584-016-1598-0): Empirical statistical downscaling (ESD) methods seek to refine global climate model (GCM) outputs via processes that glean information from a combination of observations and GCM simulations. They aim to create value-added climate projections by reducing biases and adding finer spatial detail. Analysis techniques, such as cross-validation, allow assessments of how well ESD methods meet these goals during observational periods. However, the extent to which an ESD method’s skill might differ when applied to future climate projections cannot be assessed readily in the same manner. Here we present a “perfect model” experimental design that quantifies...
Abstract (from http://ascelibrary.org/doi/abs/10.1061/(ASCE)HE.1943-5584.0001282): A novel multisite cascading calibration (MSCC) approach using the shuffled complex evolution–University of Arizona (SCE-UA) optimization method, developed at the University of Arizona, was employed to calibrate the variable infiltration capacity (VIC) model in the Red River Basin. Model simulations were conducted at 35 nested gauging stations. Compared with simulated results using a priori parameters, single-site calibration can improve VIC model performance at specific calibration sites; however, improvement is still limited in upstream locations. The newly developed MSCC approach overcomes this limitation. Simulations using MSCC...
This webinar is part of a series featuring South Central Climate Science Center researchers studying the Rio Grande, a critical water resource for people and wildlife. Learn more at southcentralclimate.org and view the other webinars in this series here.


map background search result map search result map Community Resilience to Drought Hazard: An Analysis of Drought Exposure, Impacts, and Adaptation in the South Central U.S. Developing Effective Drought Monitoring Tools for Farmers and Ranchers in the South Central U.S. Science to Assess Future Conservation Practices for the Mississippi River Basin Developing Tools for Improved Water Supply Forecasting in the Rio Grande Headwaters Building a Decision-Support Tool for Assessing the Impacts of Climate and Land Use  Change on Ecological Processes Identifying Conservation Objectives for the Gulf Coast Habitats of the Black Skimmer and Gull-billed Tern Wildfire Probability Mapping Based on Regional Soil Moisture Models Developing Tools for Improved Water Supply Forecasting in the Rio Grande Headwaters Identifying Conservation Objectives for the Gulf Coast Habitats of the Black Skimmer and Gull-billed Tern Wildfire Probability Mapping Based on Regional Soil Moisture Models Community Resilience to Drought Hazard: An Analysis of Drought Exposure, Impacts, and Adaptation in the South Central U.S. Building a Decision-Support Tool for Assessing the Impacts of Climate and Land Use  Change on Ecological Processes Developing Effective Drought Monitoring Tools for Farmers and Ranchers in the South Central U.S. Science to Assess Future Conservation Practices for the Mississippi River Basin