A Window of Opportunity for Climate-Change Adaptation: Easing Tree Mortality by Reducing Forest Basal Area

Increasing aridity as a result of climate change is expected to exacerbate tree mortality. Reducing forest basal area – the cross-sectional area of tree stems within a given ground area – can decrease tree competition, which may reduce drought-induced tree mortality. However, neither the magnitude of expected mortality increases, nor the potential effectiveness of basal area reduction, has been quantified in dryland forests such as those of the drought-prone Southwest US. We used thousands of repeatedly measured forest plots to show that unusually warm and dry conditions are related to high tree mortality rates and that mortality is positively related to basal area. Those relationships suggest that while increasing high temperature extremes forecasted by climate models may lead to elevated tree mortality during the 21st century, future tree mortality might be partly ameliorated by reducing stand basal area. This adaptive forest management strategy may provide a window of opportunity for forest managers and policy makers to guide forest transitions to species and/or genotypes more suited to future climates.

Historical Climate Trends

Tool Overview: 

The Historical Climate Trends product provides a comparative seasonal or annual analysis for a specified climate division or state. Long term averages are taken from NCDC's monthly and annual temperature and rainfall datasets. These long term averages are depicted in each chart as a horizontal line in the middle of the chart. 5-year moving averages of seasonal (or annual) values are plotted in comparison to the long-term average as red or blue curves for temperature and green or brown curves for precipitation.

The National Weather Service is a component of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). NOAA is an Operating Unit of the U.S. Department of Commerce.

Our Mission Provide weather, water, and climate data, forecasts and warnings for the protection of life and property and enhancement of the national economy.

Our Vision A Weather-Ready Nation: Society is Prepared for and Responds to Weather-Dependent Events

Climate Explorer 2.0

Tool Overview: 

Individuals, businesses, and communities of all sizes can use the Climate Explorer to understand how climate conditions in their location may change over coming decades. This information—derived from global climate models—can help them make decisions and build resilience to extreme events.

Built to accompany the U.S. Climate Resilience Toolkit, the Climate Explorer offers customizable graphs and maps of observed and projected temperature, precipitation, and related climate variables for every county in the contiguous United States.

Tool Description: 

The Climate Explorer is a web application offering interactive maps and graphs to assist users in decision-making and resilience-building contexts. Built to support the U.S. Climate Resilience Toolkit, the Climate Explorer helps people explore the exposure of human populations and valued assets to climate-related hazards that may put those assets at risk.

Rapid Vulnerability Assessment and Adaptation Strategies for the National Marine Sanctuary and Territory of American Samoa

This report summarizes the results of a rapid vulnerability assessment (July 2016) and adaptation strategy planning (September 2016) workshops for 10 focal resources in the Territory and National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa by engaging with stakeholders, including village leaders, community members, resource managers, local government representatives, and business owners that rely on the resources with the goal of increasing climate resilience in the region. 

Climate Change in Colorado: A Synthesis to Support Water Resources Management and Adaptation: A Report for the Colorado Water Conservation Board

The scientific evidence is clear: the Earth’s climate is warming. Multiple independent measurements confirm widespread warming in the western United States; in Colorado, temperatures have increased by approximately 2°F between 1977 and 2006. Increasing temperatures are affecting the state’s water resources. (Sections 1, 2, 4, 5, 6)

This report is a synthesis of climate change science important for Colorado’s water supply. It focuses on observed trends, modeling, and projections of temperature, precipitation,snowmelt, and runoff. Climate projections are reported out to the mid-21st century, because this is a relevant time frame for development of adaptation strategies.

Although many published studies and datasets include information about Colorado, few climate studies focus only on the state. Consequently, many important scientific analyses for Colorado are lacking. This report summarizes Coloradospecific findings from peer-reviewed regional studies, and presents new graphics derived from existing datasets. The state is home to many experts in climate and hydrology, and this report also draws from ongoing work by these scientists.

A Three-Step Decision Support Framework for Climate Adaptation: Selecting Climate-Informed Conservation Goals and Strategies for Native Salmonids in the Northern U.S. Rockies

The impact of climate change on cold-water ecosystems—and the cold-adapted native salmonids present in these systems—is the subject of a substantial body of research.. Recently, scientists have developed a number of datasets and analyses that provide insight into projections of climate change e ects on native salmonid populations in the northern U.S. Rockies region. Alongside this research, a number of management options for helping native salmonids respond to the e ects of climate change—also known as ‘climate adaptation’ strategies and actions—have been identi ed by scientists and managers in the region. These analyses and climate adaptation options o er valuable information to managers charged with making di cult decisions about where and how to best conserve and restore the region’s native salmonids given the challenges posed by shifting climatic conditions. Yet managers in the region continue to identify challenges in applying available information on climate change impacts, particularly in determining forward-looking conservation goals and selecting appropriate actions from the long menu of available climate adaptation options.

 

To augment this research and compilation of climate-informed management options, we have developed a decision support framework aimed at helping managers think critically about how to apply climate information to their management decisions. Speci cally, our framework is meant to help managers:

1) articulate an appropriate conservation goal for cold-adapted native salmonid populations taking into account the impacts of climate change on habitat suitability, threats from non-native sh, and connectivity;

2) consider the climate adaptation strategies that might best support that goal; and

3) identify actions that are available to implement the chosen strategies.

Given the complexity and uncertainty of conserving cold-adapted species in an era of rapid climate change and the limited resources available for conservation, choices about where to invest conservation dollars require defensible and transparent decision making. The three-step decision framework we provide here is meant to be a starting point to help managers document how they have incorporated information on climate change into their management decisions and prioritization of limited resources. The process used to develop the framework for native salmonids can be used to tailor decision support for additional conservation targets of interest. Ultimately, managers can integrate this climate change thinking into existing conservation strategies and management plans, alongside the myriad other regulatory, social, economic and locally-driven factors and mandates that in uence management decisions.

Preliminary Study of Climate Adaptation for the Statewide Transportation System in Arizona

This research study presents recommendations for the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) to continue working toward being more resilient, flexible, and responsive to the effects of global climate change. The main objectives were to identify key individuals within ADOT with decisionmaking authority relevant in incorporating climate change adaptation in planning, design, and operations; review literature and best practices for climate change adaptation as relevant to the desert Southwest; develop a research agenda for ADOT to further understand the impacts of climate change on the agency (including a knowledge-mapping exercise using an online survey questionnaire, structured interviews, and focus groups); and identify key areas for further research.

By initiating this study, there is already an internal interest and momentum at ADOT for climate adaptation planning. Without institutional support, however, it will be difficult to continue forward with the research agenda in a more extensive study. To move beyond a preliminary assessment, ADOT will have to find ways to bring its lessons learned to the forefront and into the national spotlight. This study reveals that ADOT already experiences extreme heat and dust storms, and thus it will be the first to develop tools and techniques that can be applied to other states and regions that will experience climate impacts that Arizona will face first. The study provides some recommendations for ADOT to tap into the national dialogue on climate adaptatio