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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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One of the biggest challenges facing resource managers today is not knowing exactly when, where, or how climate change effects will unfold. To help federal land managers address this need, the North Central CASC has been working with the National Park Service to pioneer an approach for incorporating climate science and scenario planning into NPS planning processes, in particular Resource Stewardship Strategies (RSS). These strategies serve as a long-range planning tool for a national park unit to achieve its desired natural and cultural resource conditions, and are used to guide a park’s full spectrum of resource-specific management plans and day-to-day management activities. To support adaptation planning within...
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Grasslands in the northern Great Plains are important ecosystems that support local economies, tribal communities, livestock grazing, diverse plant and animal communities, and large-scale migrations of big game ungulates, grassland birds, and waterfowl. Climate change and variability impact how people and animals live on and interact with grasslands, and can bring more frequent droughts, fires, or new plant species that make managing these landscapes challenging. Understanding how climate change and variability will impact grassland ecosystems and their management in the 21st century first requires a synthesis of what is known across all of these scales and a gap analysis to identify key areas of focus for future...
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Changing climate conditions such as increasing droughts, floods, and wildfires, hotter temperatures, declining snowpacks, and changes in the timing of seasonal events are already having an impact on wildlife and their habitats. In order to make forward-looking management decisions that consider ongoing and future projected changes in climate, managers require access to climate information that can be easily integrated into the planning process. Co-production, a process whereby scientists work closely with managers to identify and fill knowledge gaps, is an effective means of ensuring that science results will be directly useful to managers. Through a multi-phase project, researchers are implementing co-production...
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Researchers with the North Central Climate Science Center have made substantial progress in assessing the impacts of climate and land use change on wildlife and ecosystems across the region. Building on this progress, researchers will work with stakeholders to identify adaptation strategies and inform resource management in the areas that will be most affected by changing conditions. There are several components of this project. First, researchers will use the Department of Interior “resource briefs” as a mechanism to communicate information to resource managers on climate and land use change and their impacts to resources. These briefs will support coordinated management of ecosystems that contain public, private,...
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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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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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Covering 120 million acres across 14 western states and 3 Canadian provinces, sagebrush provides critical habitat for species such as pronghorn, mule deer, and sage-grouse – a species of conservation concern. The future of these and other species is closely tied to the future of sagebrush. Yet this important ecosystem has already been affected by fire, invasive species, land use conversion, and now, climate change. In the western U.S., temperatures are rising and precipitation patterns are changing. However, there is currently a limited ability to anticipate the impacts of climate change on sagebrush. Current methods suffer from a range of weakness that limits the reliability of results. In fact, the current uncertainty...
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In southwestern Colorado, land managers anticipate the impacts of climate change to include higher temperatures, more frequent and prolonged drought, accelerated snowmelt, larger and more intense fires, more extreme storms, and the spread of invasive species. These changes put livelihoods, ecosystems, and species at risk. Focusing on communities in southwestern Colorado’s San Juan and Gunnison river basins, this project will expand opportunities for scientists, land managers, and affected residents to identify actions that can support resilience and adaptation in the face of changing climate conditions. This project builds on the project “Building Social and Ecological Resilience to Climate Change in southwestern...
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Climate change is causing an increase in the amount of forested area burned by wildfires in the western U.S. The warm, dry post-fire conditions of the region may limit tree regeneration in some areas, potentially causing a shift to non-forest vegetation. Managers are increasingly challenged by the combined impacts of greater wildfire activity, the significant uncertainty about whether forests will recover, and limited resources for reforestation efforts. Simultaneously, there has been an increased focus on post-fire reforestation efforts as tree planting has become a popular climate change mitigation strategy across the nation. Therefore, with increased interest and need, it is crucial to identify where varying...
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Natural and cultural resource managers across the country have begun to use a tool known as "scenario planning" to help prepare for climate change effects that may unfold in the future. In this process, scientific projections are used to identify different plausible, relevant, and divergent climate conditions for a particular area, and then through a participatory process, scientists and resource managers develop "scenarios" which describe the implications of these different conditions for resources and management. The North Central CASC has been working with the National Park Service (NPS) Climate Change Response Program (CCRP) to encourage and support national parks in incorporating climate science and scenario...
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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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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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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 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 sagebrush ecosystem is home to diverse wildlife, including big-game and Greater sage-grouse. Historic and contemporary land-uses, large wildfires, exotic plant invasion, and woodland expansion all represent threats to this multiple-use landscape. Efforts of federal and state agencies and private landowners across the landscape are focused on restoration and maintenance of conditions that support wildlife, livestock, energy development, and many other uses. However, this semi-arid landscape presents challenges for management due to highly variable patterns in growing conditions that lead to differences in plant composition, fuel accumulation, and vegetation recovery. Much of this variability is created by soil...
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Pinyon pine woodlands are among the most widespread and iconic vegetation types in the western United States and support recreation, resource extraction, grazing, and cultural enrichment. However, severe drought conditions have recently caused dramatic mortality of pinyon pines, creating concern about the long-term impact of increasing aridity on the viability of pinyon woodlands. Ecological transformations, or regime shifts, are rapid reorganizations of an ecosystem’s species composition, governing processes, and functions. The goal of this project is to investigate ecological transformation across the Western U.S, characterize the environmental drivers of these changes in vegetation, and apply those insights...
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The goal of this project was to identify climate-related scientific information needs in the North Central region that will support the management of key species and help avoid species declines. Researchers worked closely with state fish and wildlife agencies, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, tribes, and other relevant natural resource management and conservation agencies to identify priority information needs and to design and implement studies that will address these needs. Researchers identified stakeholders, including those engaged by the North Central Climate Science Center USGS Liaisons project. Researchers worked with stakeholders to identify priority conservation targets. Selected targets were those...
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One of the biggest challenges facing resource managers today is not knowing exactly when, where, or how climate change effects will unfold. In order to plan for this uncertain future, managers have begun to use a tool known as scenario planning, in which climate models are used to identify different plausible climate conditions, known as “scenarios”, for a particular area. In a previous project, researchers with the North Central Climate Science Center worked with natural resource managers at Badlands National Park and on surrounding federal lands to model how different climate scenarios and management activities would impact the area’s resources. The model that was developed answers critical “what if” questions...


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 Projecting the Future Encroachment of Woody Vegetation into Grasslands of the Northern Great Plains by Simulating Climate Conditions and Possible Management Actions 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. Climate Change and Federal Land Management: Assessing Priorities Using a Social Network Approach Science and Forecasting to Inform Implementation of the Greater Yellowstone Coordinating Committee’s Whitebark Pine Management Strategy Capacity Building in the North-Central U.S.: Tribal Engagement, Climate Training, and PhenoCam Deployment Forecasting Future Changes in Sagebrush Distribution and Abundance Building Social and Ecological Resilience to Climate Change in Southwestern Colorado: Phase 2 Enabling Climate-Informed Planning and Decisions about Species of Conservation Concern in the North Central Region: Phase 1 Foundational Science Area: Climate Adaptation Strategies for Wildlife and Habitats in the North Central U.S. Informing Climate Change Adaptation Planning in National Parks Mapping the Risk of Ecological Transformation Across Pinyon Woodlands and the U.S. West Enabling Climate-Informed Planning and Decisions about Species of Conservation Concern in the North Central Region: Phase 2 Refining Guidance for Incorporating Climate Science and Scenario Planning into National Park Service Resource Stewardship Strategies Understanding Local Resistance and Resilience to Future Habitat Change in the Sagebrush Ecosystem Synthesis of Climate Impacts and Adaptation on Grassland Ecosystems in the Northern Great Plains Science to Inform Post-fire Conifer Regeneration and Reforestation Strategies Under Changing Climate Conditions Supporting the National Park Service in Climate Adaptation Planning Refining Guidance for Incorporating Climate Science and Scenario Planning into National Park Service Resource Stewardship Strategies Informing Climate Change Adaptation Planning in National Parks Building Social and Ecological Resilience to Climate Change in Southwestern Colorado: Phase 2 Projecting the Future Encroachment of Woody Vegetation into Grasslands of the Northern Great Plains by Simulating Climate Conditions and Possible Management Actions Science to Inform Post-fire Conifer Regeneration and Reforestation Strategies Under Changing Climate Conditions Forecasting Future Changes in Sagebrush Distribution and Abundance Using a Collaborative Modeling Approach to Explore Climate and Landscape Change in the Northern Rockies and Inform Adaptive Management 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. Capacity Building in the North-Central U.S.: Tribal Engagement, Climate Training, and PhenoCam Deployment Enabling Climate-Informed Planning and Decisions about Species of Conservation Concern in the North Central Region: Phase 2 Synthesis of Climate Impacts and Adaptation on Grassland Ecosystems in the Northern Great Plains Supporting the National Park Service in Climate Adaptation Planning Enabling Climate-Informed Planning and Decisions about Species of Conservation Concern in the North Central Region: Phase 1 Foundational Science Area: Climate Adaptation Strategies for Wildlife and Habitats in the North Central U.S. 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 Understanding Local Resistance and Resilience to Future Habitat Change in the Sagebrush Ecosystem Climate Change and Federal Land Management: Assessing Priorities Using a Social Network Approach Mapping the Risk of Ecological Transformation Across Pinyon Woodlands and the U.S. West