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In the Western U.S., approximately 65% of the water supply comes from forested regions with most of the water that feeds local rivers coming from snowmelt that originates in mountain forests. The Rio Grande headwaters (I.e. the primary water generating region of the Rio Grande river) is experiencing large changes to the landscape primarily from forest fires and bark beetle infestations. Already, 85% of the coniferous forests in this region have been affected by the bark beetle, and projections indicate greater changes will occur as temperatures increase. In this area, most of the precipitation falls as snow in the winter, reaches a maximum depth in the late spring, and melts away due to warmer temperatures by early...
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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 sky island forests of the southwestern United States are one of the most diverse temperate forest ecosystems in the world, providing key habitat for migrating and residential species alike. Black bear, bighorn sheep, mule deer, and wild turkey are just a few of the species found in these isolated mountain ecosystems that rise out of the desert landscape. However, recent droughts have crippled these ecosystems, causing significant tree death. Climate predictions suggest that this region will only face hotter and drier conditions in the future, potentially stressing these ecosystems even further. Simple models predict that vegetation will move to cooler and wetter locations in response to this warming. However,...
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The South Central U.S. encompasses a wide range of ecosystem types and precipitation patterns. Average annual precipitation is less than 10 inches in northwest New Mexico but can exceed 60 inches further east in Louisiana. Much of the region relies on warm-season convective precipitation – that is, highly localized brief but intense periods of rainfall that are common in the summer. This type of precipitation is a significant driver of climate and ecosystem function in the region, but it is also notoriously difficult to predict since it occurs at such small spatial and temporal scales. While global climate models are helpful for understanding and predicting large-scale precipitation trends, they often do not capture...
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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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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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Pollinator restoration requires information about what species to plant and when to plant them to ensure food sources are available throughout the periods when pollinators are active. Changes in climate, including earlier spring warming and warmer fall temperatures, may cause flowering to become out of sync with pollinator activity. When restoring land to support pollinators, managers are challenged to select a mix of species that support pollinators of concern throughout their periods of activity. Existing planting tools have several disadvantages such as, their usability is location specific, they are virtually non-existent for the South Central region, and they do not often account for future changes in plant...
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A limited amount of valid scientific information about global climate change and its detrimental impacts has reached the public and exerted a positive impact on the public policy process or future planning for adaptation and mitigation. This project was designed to address this limitation by bringing together expertise in the social and communication sciences from targeted academic institutions affiliated with the Department of the Interior’s Climate Science Centers (CSCs) through a workshop. The project team brought together expertise in the social and communication sciences from targeted academic institutions, particularly experts and scholars who are affiliated with the nation’s CSCs, by means of an invited...
Categories: Project; Types: Map Service, OGC WFS Layer, OGC WMS Layer, OGC WMS Service; Tags: 2012, CASC, Completed, Completed, Completed, All tags...
Global climate models (GCMs) are numerically complex, computationally intensive, physics-based research tools used to simulate our planet’s inter-connected climate system. In addition to improving the scientific understanding of how the large-scale climate system works, GCM simulations of past and future climate conditions can be useful in applied research contexts. When seeking to apply information from global-scale climate projections to address local- and regional-scale climate questions, GCM-generated datasets often undergo statistical post-processing generally known as statistical downscaling (hereafter, SD). There are many different SD techniques, with all using information from observations to address GCM...
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Developing novel solutions to complex problems demands innovative approaches that are inclusive of diverse perspectives from both scientific experts and stakeholders. Across networked communities, like the South Central Climate Adaptation Science Center (CASC), it can sometimes be challenging to identify and build collaborations among researchers from different disciplines. Particularly at times like the present, during a global pandemic and recovery from its impact, a means to support a diverse, integrated and engaged network is essential for producing innovative outcomes for complex problems relevant to our changing climate. One method to foster more engaged networks is through the use of Exaptive’s Cognitive...
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Coastal wetlands are some of the most productive and valuable habitats in the world. Louisiana contains 40% of the coastal wetlands in the United States, which provide critical habitat for waterfowl and fisheries, as well as many other benefits, such as storm surge protection for coastal communities. In terms of ecosystem services, biological resource production, and infrastructure investments, the value of Louisiana’s coastal wetlands exceeds $100 billion. Thus, stakeholders are gravely concerned about sea-level rise which is causing coastal marsh habitat to convert to open water and resulting in the highest rates of wetland loss in the world, with nearly 1.2 million acres lost since the 1930s. This concern has...
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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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Freshwater mussels are an important component of freshwater ecosystems. They can filter a large amount of water, affecting both water clarity and water chemistry. Their shells provide physical habitat for other organisms, they re-direct necessary nutrients to the bottom of the water column, and their excreted material can enhance the growth of algae and macroinvertebrates. However, dramatic declines of freshwater mussels have occurred due to habitat loss, destruction and modification, pollution, and invasive species. One mussel species in Texas (Texas Hornshell) has been listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act and several other species are candidates for listing. Changes in precipitation patterns...
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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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Water management in the middle portion of the Rio Grande Basin (between Elephant Butte Reservoir in New Mexico and Presidio, Texas) is challenging because water demand has continued to increase over time despite limited river water and dropping groundwater levels. While urban and agricultural users can cope with frequent droughts by using a combination of river water and pumping groundwater, little to no water reaches living river ecosystems in this region. Improving this situation requires a good understanding of river water and groundwater availability, now and in the future, as well as advantages and disadvantages of water management options to sustain these ecosystems. In particular, there is a need to determine...
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The South Central Climate Adaptation Science Center (CASC) has worked diligently to build new partnerships between scientists and resource managers to help address the science needs and questions of their stakeholders through actionable science. However, the growth of their stakeholder base and the loss of the Landscape Conservation Cooperatives has led to unmet demand for climate “extension services” from stakeholders. This project plans to establish a new scientist position at the South Central CASC focused on climate extension services and research coordination to help discover needed science solutions and to facilitate connections between the researcher and practitioner communities. The Climate Extension...
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The fast pace of change in coastal zones, the trillions of dollars of investment in human communities in coastal areas, and the myriad of ecosystem services natural coastal environments provide makes managing climate-related risks along coasts a massive challenge for all of the U.S. coastal states and territories. Answering questions about both the costs and the benefits of alternative adaptation strategies in the near term is critical to taxpayers, decision-makers, and to the biodiversity of the planet. There is significant public and private interest in using ecosystem based adaptation approaches to conserve critical significant ecosystems in coastal watersheds, estuaries and intertidal zones and to protect man-made...
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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 the changes in the distribution and quantity of, and demand for, water resources in response to a changing climate is essential to planning for, and adapting to, future climatic conditions. In order to plan for future conditions and challenges, it is crucial that managers understand the limitations and uncertainties associated with the characterization of these changes when making management decisions. Changes in consumptive water use (water removed without return to a water resources system) will change streamflow, impacting downstream water users, their livelihoods, as well as aquatic ecosystems. Historical changes in available water may be attributed to changes in precipitation; but these changes...
Categories: Project; Types: Map Service, OGC WFS Layer, OGC WMS Layer, OGC WMS Service; Tags: 2013, CASC, Completed, Completed, Completed, All tags...
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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...


map background search result map search result map Building Capacity within the CSC Network to Effectively Deliver and Communicate Science to Resource Managers and Planners Assessing the Drivers of Water Availability for Historic and Future Conditions in the South Central U.S. Predicting Sky Island Forest Vulnerability to Climate Change: Fine Scale Climate Variability, Drought Tolerance, and Fire Response Improving Representation of Extreme Precipitation Events in Regional Climate Models 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 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 Assessing the Impacts of Rapid Rainfall Shifts (“Whiplashes” and “Boomerangs”) on Freshwater Mussels in Central Texas Understanding New Paradigms for “Environmental Flows” and Water Allocation in the Middle Rio Grande River Basin in a Changing Climate Organizing and Synthesizing Ogallala Aquifer Data to Facilitate Research and Resource Management Evaluating Ecosystem-Based Adaptation Options for Coastal Resilience Climate Extension Services for the South Central U.S. Optimizing Data and Discovery Knowledge Transfer Across Researchers and Stakeholders Using Innovative Technology (“Cognitive Cities”) Understanding Impacts of Sea-Level Rise and Land Management on Critical Coastal Marsh Habitat Estimating the Future Effects of Forest Disturbance on Snow Water Resources in a Changing Environment Time to Restore: Using a Community Based Approach to Identify Key Plant Species for Pollinator Restoration Predicting Sky Island Forest Vulnerability to Climate Change: Fine Scale Climate Variability, Drought Tolerance, and Fire Response Understanding Impacts of Sea-Level Rise and Land Management on Critical Coastal Marsh Habitat Understanding New Paradigms for “Environmental Flows” and Water Allocation in the Middle Rio Grande River Basin in a Changing Climate Identifying Conservation Objectives for the Gulf Coast Habitats of the Black Skimmer and Gull-billed Tern Assessing the Impacts of Rapid Rainfall Shifts (“Whiplashes” and “Boomerangs”) on Freshwater Mussels in Central Texas Wildfire Probability Mapping Based on Regional Soil Moisture Models Building Capacity within the CSC Network to Effectively Deliver and Communicate Science to Resource Managers and Planners Improving Representation of Extreme Precipitation Events in Regional Climate 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 Climate Extension Services for the South Central U.S. Optimizing Data and Discovery Knowledge Transfer Across Researchers and Stakeholders Using Innovative Technology (“Cognitive Cities”) Time to Restore: Using a Community Based Approach to Identify Key Plant Species for Pollinator Restoration Assessing the Drivers of Water Availability for Historic and Future Conditions in the South Central U.S. Developing Effective Drought Monitoring Tools for Farmers and Ranchers in the South Central U.S. Organizing and Synthesizing Ogallala Aquifer Data to Facilitate Research and Resource Management Science to Assess Future Conservation Practices for the Mississippi River Basin Evaluating Ecosystem-Based Adaptation Options for Coastal Resilience