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Elodea spp. (Elodea) is Alaska’s first known invasive aquatic plant, first discovered in urban lakes in 2010. The combination of human pathways and climate change related shifts in seasonality and temperature have resulted in Elodea’s range expansion into Alaska’s freshwater resources. Elodea transmission often occurs when plant fragments get entangled in seaplane rudders and are carried to remote waterbodies where they quickly establish dense plant growth. This growth inhibits seaplane access and drastically alters aquatic ecosystems. Recent research showed that Elodea can have significant negative impacts on parks, subsistence, aviation‐related recreation, and Alaska’s salmon fisheries. For example, the economic...
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In Alaska, recent research has identified particular areas of the state where both a lack of soil moisture and warming temperatures increase the likelihood of wildfire. While this is an important finding, this previous research did not take into account the important role that melting snow, ice, and frozen ground (permafrost) play in replenshing soil moisture in the spring and summer months. This project will address this gap in the characterization of fire risk using the newly developed monthly water balance model (MWBM). The MWBM takes into account rain, snow, snowmelt, glacier ice melt, and the permafrost layer to better calculate soil moisture replenishment and the amount of moisture that is lost to the atmosphere...
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Future climate conditions in the Upper Mississippi River Basin are projected to include many more extreme precipitation events. These intense periods of rain can lead to flooding of the Mississippi River itself, as well the small streams and rivers that feed it. This flooding presents a challenge for local communities, farmers, small businesses, river users, and the ecosystems and wildlife in the area. To reduce the damage done by these extreme rainfall events, ‘natural solutions’ are often helpful. This might include preserving forests and grasslands to absorb rainwater before it arrives at streams or restoring wetlands to slow and clean runoff water. For river and natural resource managers to adapt to future climate...
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Freshwater is a critical driver for island ecosystems. In Hawaiʻi, though rainfall intensity has increased, total rainfall has been on the decline for the last two decades and, as a result, streamflow has also been reduced. The changes in dynamic patterns of streamflow could result in impacts to river, estuarine, and coastal habitats. In turn, these changes also affect the nine native Hawaiian aquatic species found in these habitats at different stages of their amphidromous life cycle (in which they migrate from fresh to salt water or vice versa). To examine how changes in streamflow regime have impacted habitat quality for native migratory aquatic species, an ongoing project has been examining statewide long-term...
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Haleakalā National Park (HNP) and the surrounding landscape spans many different land cover types, some of which are undergoing vegetation changes that can reduce the amount of water that infiltrates into soil. Decreased soil infiltration can lead to the erosion of terrestrial habitats, increases in the amount of sediment entering aquatic habitats, and flooding of downstream areas as runoff increases after storms. Currently, HNP managers are attempting to control runoff and erosion to avoid loss and damage within park boundaries and parks located downstream. Managers in HNP have expressed a need for information on current and future runoff and erosion risk to help prioritize management within the park and other...
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The Ogallala Aquifer lies beneath 111 million acres of land in Wyoming, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Colorado, Oklahoma, Texas, and New Mexico. The aquifer provides water for approximately 1.9 million people and has been instrumental in the development of the robust agriculture economy of the Great Plains region. It is also vitally important to the ecology of the region, serving as a critical source of groundwater and sustaining creeks and streams that would otherwise run dry during periods of water scarcity. However, the various social, economic, and ecological challenges of managing this aquifer are expected to increase with climate change as hotter, drier summers exacerbate already unsustainable water demands....
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Water is a key ecosystem service that provides life to vegetation, animals, and human communities. The distribution and flow of water on a landscape influences many ecological functions, such as the distribution and health of vegetation and soil development and function. However, the future of many important water resources remains uncertain. Reduced snowfall and snowpack, earlier spring runoff, increased winter streamflow and flooding, and decreased summer streamflow have all been identified as potential impacts to water resources due to climate change. These factors all influence the water balance in the Pacific Coastal Temperate Rainforest (PCTR). Ensuring healthy flow and availability of water resources is...
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Vernal pools are small, seasonal wetlands that provide critically important seasonal habitat for many amphibian species of conservation concern. Natural resource managers and scientists in the Northeast, as well as the Northeast Refugia Research Coalition, coordinated by the Northeast CSC, recently identified vernal pools as a priority ecosystem to study, and recent revisions to State Wildlife Action Plans highlighted climate change and disease as primary threats to key vernal pool ecosystems. Mapping out the hydrology of vernal pools across the Northeast is an important step in informing land management and conservation decision-making. Project researchers modeled the hydrology of roughly 450 vernal pools from...
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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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Climate change is projected to cause earlier and less snowmelt, potentially reducing water availability for terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems and for municipal and agricultural water supplies. However, if forested landscapes can be managed to retain snow longer, some of these environmental and financial impacts may be mitigated. Results from our research team demonstrate that in the Pacific Northwest (PNW), opening dense forest canopies through creating forest gaps will generally lead to more snow accumulation and later melt (i.e., up to 13 weeks later). However, under certain conditions, such as locations on ridges with high wind speeds and sunny south-facing slopes, the snow that accumulated in the forest is...
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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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Snow conditions are changing dramatically in the mountains of the interior Pacific Northwest, including eastern Washington, northern Idaho, and western Montana. These changes can both benefit and hinder a variety of wildlife species. The timing and extent of seasonal snowpacks, in addition to snow depth, density, and hardness, can impact the ability of wildlife to access forage, their ability to move across the landscape, and their vulnerability to predators, to name a few. In order to respond effectively to changes in snow conditions, wildlife managers need tools to identify areas and promote conditions that maintain late spring and early summer snowpack for some sensitive species. Managers also require an index...
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In Arctic and sub-Arctic regions, snow plays a crucial role in atmospheric and hydrologic systems and has a major influence on the health and function of regional ecosystems. Warming temperatures may have a significant impact on snow and may therefore affect the entire water cycle of the region. A decrease in precipitation in the form of snow, or “snow drought”, can manifest in several ways including changes to total snowfall amounts, snow accumulation, and the timing/length of the snow season. Understanding these changes is then critical for understanding and predicting a variety of climate impacts to wildlife and ecosystems. However, little research has been conducted to date to understand how this change may...
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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).
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Increasing water usage and demands, combined with potentially less source water as a result of climate change impacts, are causing water resource managers to evaluate and implement alternative solutions for reducing water shortages, maximizing water availability, and reducing costs. The capture and reuse of wastewater is a promising strategy for increasing available water, but the costs and benefits of wastewater reuse are poorly quantified. In many locations, wastewater forms a significant component of stream flows for downstream beneficial uses. While wastewater reuse can boost local water availability, it also may reduce downstream flows and have negative impacts on downstream ecosystems. Therefore, assessing...
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Several times during the severe drought of 2010-2015, communities within the jurisdictional territories of the Chickasaw Nation and the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma were precariously close to running out of water. According to previous studies, temperatures are expected to continue to rise throughout the southern states, and droughts are predicted to be longer and more severe. Even small changes to a river’s water flow regime may have unanticipated consequences on the water resources, especially for communities that rely on direct river diversions to supply their needs. A suitable water availability model is a key tool needed to help communities investigate where vulnerabilities in water resources may occur and the...
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The southeast United States has many lakes, streams and reservoirs that serve as important drinking water sources, recreational, agricultural, and ecological uses. Unfortunately, harmful algal blooms are becoming more common in these waters, causing health issues for humans and animals. While it is clear that nutrients stimulate algae growth, it isn’t clear if there are other parameters that stimulate the development of harmful algal blooms. The scientific literature describes additional parameters that may affect algae growth, such as storm occurrence, temperature, dissolved metals, erosion of soils, length of growing season, and hydroperiod.This project will address these different parameters and examine how climate...
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Snow is extremely important to a wide range of natural processes in Alaska. Snow cover helps regulate the earth’s temperature and stores water on the landscape. As it melts, snow hydrates the soil and replenishes the freshwater supplies of streams and lakes, providing water for vegetation, wildlife, and human activities such as agriculture and electricity generation. Understanding present and future snow conditions under climate change is critical for managing Alaska’s natural resources, yet many scientists, land managers, and policymakers lack this information at useful scales. Hence, the goal of this project was to produce an advanced snow modeling system for part of the Arctic that predicts a variety of factors...
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Precipitation in Hawaiʻi’s higher elevation upland areas provides needed water to both people and ecosystems. Once it reaches the ground, rain can either run off and contribute to water flow in streams, or it can infiltrate into the ground and provide water for plants and recharge aquifers and groundwater. The exact route that water takes is controlled by many factors, including the duration and intensity of rainfall, the topography of the land, soil properties, and vegetation. The introduction and spread of invasive plants and animals in Hawaiian forests, which alters the water-use and soil characteristics of ecosystems, can have large impacts on downstream water users. Increased demand and competition for limited...
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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...


map background search result map search result map Assessment of Available Climate Models and Projections for the Southwest Region Projecting the Future Distribution and Flow of Water in Alaskan Coastal Forest Watersheds Modeling and Predicting Future Changes in Snowfall and Snow Cover in Alaska Evaluating the Impacts of Climate Extremes on Karst Hydrology and Species Vulnerability Forest Management Tools to Maximize Snow Retention under Climate Change Assessing the Impacts of Restoration Efforts on Water and Natural Systems in a Changing World Changes in Water Flow through Hawaiian Forests due to Invasive Species and Changing Rainfall Patterns Snow Drought: Recognizing and Understanding its Impacts in Alaska Learning From Recent Snow Droughts To Improve Forecasting of Water Availability for People and Forests Improving Characterizations of Future Wildfire Risk in Alaska Mapping Climate Change Resistant Vernal Pools in the Northeastern U.S. Identifying the Risk of Runoff and Erosion in Hawaiʻi’s National Parks Organizing and Synthesizing Ogallala Aquifer Data to Facilitate Research and Resource Management The Impacts of Changing Snow Conditions and Winter Severity on Wildlife in the Interior Pacific Northwest Building Tools to Assess Climate Change Impacts on Water Resources of the Canadian River Basin Connecting Ecosystems from Mountains to the Sea in a Changing Climate Evaluating the Impacts of Potential Wastewater Reuse on Streams in the Red River Basin of Oklahoma Detecting and Predicting Aquatic Invasive Species Transmission Via Seaplanes in Alaska Clarifying Science Needs for Determining the Impact of Climate Change on Harmful Algal blooms in Southeastern United States Workshop: Natural solutions to ecological and economic problems caused by extreme precipitation events in the Upper Mississippi River Basin Assessing the Impacts of Restoration Efforts on Water and Natural Systems in a Changing World Changes in Water Flow through Hawaiian Forests due to Invasive Species and Changing Rainfall Patterns Evaluating the Impacts of Potential Wastewater Reuse on Streams in the Red River Basin of Oklahoma Forest Management Tools to Maximize Snow Retention under Climate Change The Impacts of Changing Snow Conditions and Winter Severity on Wildlife in the Interior Pacific Northwest Evaluating the Impacts of Climate Extremes on Karst Hydrology and Species Vulnerability Projecting the Future Distribution and Flow of Water in Alaskan Coastal Forest Watersheds Modeling and Predicting Future Changes in Snowfall and Snow Cover in Alaska Workshop: Natural solutions to ecological and economic problems caused by extreme precipitation events in the Upper Mississippi River Basin Assessment of Available Climate Models and Projections for the Southwest Region Mapping Climate Change Resistant Vernal Pools in the Northeastern U.S. Identifying the Risk of Runoff and Erosion in Hawaiʻi’s National Parks Learning From Recent Snow Droughts To Improve Forecasting of Water Availability for People and Forests Building Tools to Assess Climate Change Impacts on Water Resources of the Canadian River Basin Organizing and Synthesizing Ogallala Aquifer Data to Facilitate Research and Resource Management Clarifying Science Needs for Determining the Impact of Climate Change on Harmful Algal blooms in Southeastern United States Snow Drought: Recognizing and Understanding its Impacts in Alaska Improving Characterizations of Future Wildfire Risk in Alaska Detecting and Predicting Aquatic Invasive Species Transmission Via Seaplanes in Alaska Connecting Ecosystems from Mountains to the Sea in a Changing Climate