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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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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...
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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 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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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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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...
Categories: Project; Types: Map Service, OGC WFS Layer, OGC WMS Layer, OGC WMS Service; Tags: 2014, Bird Conservation, Birds, Birds, CASC, All tags...
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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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Understanding how to manage scarce water during drought is one of the great challenges we face as a society, particularly for communities in the Rio Grande Basin. Severe drought coupled with human development have profoundly impacted the quantity and quality of water in the basin. Running through Colorado, New Mexico, Texas, and Mexico, the Rio Grande is a multi-national resource that is managed by many different state, federal, and local authorities and used by diverse stakeholders. Developing the basin-wide responses necessary for drought resilience throughout the Basin can be challenging in such a complex management context. This project seeks to understand how different human and environmental factors affect...
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Tribal nations are one of the most vulnerable populations to climate change in the United States, because of their reliance upon the natural environment to sustain traditional ways of life and current lack of training and resources to respond to climate change impacts. This project sought to increase south-central U.S. tribes’ basic knowledge of climate science, connect them with tools to assess their communities’ vulnerabilities, and build their skills to develop adaptation and mitigation strategies. Researchers conducted multiple two-day climate training sessions for Native American tribes in Louisiana and New Mexico. The trainings emphasized regionally specific scientific and social scientific aspects of climate...
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During the severe drought of 2010-2015, several communities in southeast Oklahoma almost ran out of water. Some of these communities rely on streams and rivers as their sole source of water and when these sources almost ran dry, it left them searching for alternatives and wondering how to continue growing, economically, with this water uncertainty. The possibility of climate change has these communities further concerned, primarily because they do not know what to expect. Previously, the USGS, both Chickasaw and Choctaw Nations collaborated on a project to apply a range of possible climate change scenarios to the Red River watershed to determine future water availability. This study will focus specifically on southeast...
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On its southbound course from Colorado to the Gulf of Mexico, the Rio Grande provides water resources for more than 13 million people. The quantity of water flowing into the northern section of the river depends on how much snowpack from the Rocky Mountains melts into runoff and on seasonal precipitation rates. Models describing the relationship between winter snowpack quantity and springtime snowmelt runoff quantities for the basin are combined with models describing long-term natural variation in precipitation to create water supply outlooks. The outlooks developed by the U.S. Natural Resources Conservation Service are currently used by stakeholders to make critical water allocation decisions in the basin. Improvements...
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Global Climate Models (GCMs) use our understanding of atmospheric physics and other earth processes to simulate potential future changes in climate on a global scale. However, these large scale models are not fit for predicting smaller scale, local changes. Downscaling methods can be applied to the outputs of GCMs to give guidance appropriate for a more regional level. No standard approach to downscaling currently exists, however, and the process often results in climate projections that suggest a wide array of possible futures. It is critical that decision-makers looking to incorporate climate information understand the uncertainties associated with different downscaling approaches and can evaluate downscaled data...
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Most resource managers need to take climate impacts into account when making decisions during the course of their career, whether their work protects native species populations, reduces the impact of extreme storms on infrastructure, or improves water quality in a watershed. Professional training that develops an understanding of the climate system, how it is changing, and what that means for various natural and cultural resources can help improve long-term management outcomes. However, not all agencies or organizations have the capacity to provide this important training, limiting the ability of managers to interpret complex climate data and address climate-related questions. Therefore, this project developed...
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The Colorado and Rio Grande Rivers provide drinking water to millions of people in the Southwest and South Central U.S. Snowmelt accounts for 70% of streamflow in these rivers, meaning that water use downstream is directly impacted by snow accumulation and snowmelt patterns in the mountains. Mountain forests are a critical part of the hydrologic cycle that feeds these rivers, providing water supply and storage. However wildfire, which is becoming more common as temperatures rise, can disrupt the role of mountain forests in the hydrologic cycle. Uncertainty about the interactions between wildfire and snow-water, and how these interactions may change as climate conditions shift, impedes effective water resource planning...
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Karst aquifers—formed when the movement of water dissolves bedrock—are critical groundwater resources in North America. Water moving through these aquifers carves out magnificent caves, sinkholes, and other formations. These formations are home to high concentrations of rare and endangered species, but the hydrological conditions that support these species can change rapidly. Managing these ecosystems into the future requires a better understanding of how climate, hydrology, and karst ecosystems interact. The objective of this project was to determine how species and ecosystems associated with karst might respond to future temperature and precipitation extremes and accompanying changes in groundwater levels and...
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Hydrologic drought and declining water availability are among the foremost stressors of stream ecosystems in the Red River basin. Resource managers face the challenge of apportioning scarce water resources among competing uses, but they lack a systematic framework for comparing the costs and benefits of proposed water management decisions and conservation actions. In 2016, Co-PIs Neeson and Moreno were funded by the Great Plains LCC to develop a decision support model for identifying the most cost-effective water conservation alternatives across the Red River basin. Here, we propose to extend this optimization model in three significant ways to support cost-effective conservation decisions in the face of climate...
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In previous climate trainings conducted for tribes and pueblos in Oklahoma and New Mexico, impacts to water resources have emerged as a priority concern. Building on the success of past South Central CSC trainings such as Climate 101, this project will provide opportunities for water managers from 20 tribes to exchange knowledge in a series of workshops. These workshops, some virtual and some face-to-face, will allow water management professionals to discuss emerging issues with climate scientists, cultivate a community of practice, and increase their capacity for successful climate adaptation. Through the workshops, water resource professionals will collaborate to understand the latest developments in climate...
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Led by members of the South Central Climate Science Center (SC CSC) consortium, this project builds upon the successes of the 2014 and 2016 trainings to develop and implement professional development training for graduate students, postdocs, and early-career researchers within the SC CSC region. The objectives were: (1) introduce a new cohort of early-career researchers to the research challenges of the SC CSC, offering them insight into how their research fits into the broader priorities of the SC CSC and applicability to end user needs; (2) facilitate interdisciplinary interactions to discuss research with peers and foster collaborative opportunities; and (3) generate a syllabus, knowledge tests, and specific...
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Across the Southern Great Plains, increasing temperatures are expected to alter the hydrological functioning of the region by contributing to severe droughts, more intense rainfall events, and more severe flooding episodes. These changes could adversely affect human and ecological communities. The ability to better predict future changes in precipitation and the response of hydrologic systems in the region could help mitigate their negative impacts. Yet while today’s global climate models provide large-scale projections of future temperature and precipitation patterns that can be broadly useful for large-scale water resource planning, they are often not appropriate for use at a smaller, more local scale. This research...
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Investigating the complex natural and cultural resource management challenges we face today requires building diverse, interdisciplinary research teams. Robust stakeholder engagement is also critical for ensuring that publicly funded science answers questions that are relevant to natural and cultural resource management decisions. Early career scientists who learn how to engage with multi-disciplinary research teams and stakeholders in the early stages of their career have a competitive advantage in the workforce and can help develop actionable science that addresses critical management questions. This project built upon the successes of the 2014 Early Career Training to develop and host a week-long professional...


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 Evaluating the Impacts of Climate Extremes on Karst Hydrology and Species Vulnerability Online Climate Change Impacts Course to Inform Managers about Planning for the Future Climate Training for Native Tribes of Louisiana and New Mexico Regional Graduate Student and Early Career Researcher Training II Informing Hydrologic Planning in the Red River Valley through Improved Regional Climate Projections Informing the Management and Coordination of Water Resources in the Rio Grande Basin Developing Tools for Improved Water Supply Forecasting in the Rio Grande Headwaters Improving Predictions of Water Supply in the Rio Grande under Changing Climate Conditions Characterizing Uncertainties in Climate Projections to Support Regional Decision-Making 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 Regional Graduate Student, Post-Doc, and Early Career Researcher Training III Wildfire Probability Mapping Based on Regional Soil Moisture Models Balancing Water Usage and Ecosystem Outcomes Under Drought and Climate Change: Enhancing an Optimization Model for the Red River Evaluation of Sustainable Water Availability in Drought Prone Watersheds in Southeastern Oklahoma The Effects of Wildfire on Snow Water Resources under Multiple Climate Conditions Cultivating a Climate Science Learning Community Amongst Tribal Water Managers The Effects of Wildfire on Snow Water Resources under Multiple Climate Conditions Developing Tools for Improved Water Supply Forecasting in the Rio Grande Headwaters Improving Predictions of Water Supply in the Rio Grande under Changing Climate Conditions Balancing Water Usage and Ecosystem Outcomes Under Drought and Climate Change: Enhancing an Optimization Model for the Red River Evaluation of Sustainable Water Availability in Drought Prone Watersheds in Southeastern Oklahoma Cultivating a Climate Science Learning Community Amongst Tribal Water Managers Evaluating the Impacts of Climate Extremes on Karst Hydrology and Species Vulnerability Identifying Conservation Objectives for the Gulf Coast Habitats of the Black Skimmer and Gull-billed Tern Informing the Management and Coordination of Water Resources in the Rio Grande Basin Climate Training for Native Tribes of Louisiana and New Mexico 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. Online Climate Change Impacts Course to Inform Managers about Planning for the Future Regional Graduate Student and Early Career Researcher Training II Building a Decision-Support Tool for Assessing the Impacts of Climate and Land Use  Change on Ecological Processes Regional Graduate Student, Post-Doc, and Early Career Researcher Training III Developing Effective Drought Monitoring Tools for Farmers and Ranchers in the South Central U.S. Informing Hydrologic Planning in the Red River Valley through Improved Regional Climate Projections Science to Assess Future Conservation Practices for the Mississippi River Basin Characterizing Uncertainties in Climate Projections to Support Regional Decision-Making