Announcements

For Trout Fishermen, Climate Change Will Mean More Driving Time, Less Angling

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- When trying to explain the potential effects of climate change on plants, fish and wildlife, scientists usually resort to language that fails to convey the impact of warming. Now, a study by Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences fisheries researchers clearly explains the impact of projected warming waters on wild brook trout in the eastern U.S. for fishermen.

Brook TroutThe eastern brook trout is a socially and economically important fish that occurs in small cold-water streams and lakes, and self-sustaining populations support angling throughout the Appalachian Mountains, from Maine to Georgia. However, warming air temperatures are expected to reduce available cold-water habitat and result in a smaller brook trout distribution and fewer angling opportunities.

Building on recent research at Penn State, Tyler Wagner, adjunct professor of fisheries ecology and Tyrell DeWeber, now a postdoctoral scholar at Oregon State University, used two models they previously developed, one predicting stream temperature and one predicting where brook trout might occur, to identify streams likely to support wild brook trout under current and future climate scenarios.

The researchers then calculated the distance required to drive from the centers of 23 cities spread throughout the eastern brook trout range to the 10 nearest stream segments likely to have wild brook trout under current and future conditions. They published their study in a recent issue of Fisheries.

Continue reading this story at Penn State News >>

This research was funded by the National Climate Change and Wildlife Science Center.

Image on page: Eastern Brook Trout, College of Agricultural Sciences / Penn State

 

Alaska Climate Science Center To Co-Host Climate Science Expo in Advance of GLACIER Conference

On Sunday, August 30, 2015 from 2:00pm - 4:30pm, the DOI Alaska Climate Science Center (AK CSC) will co-host a Climate Science Expo on "How Climate Change Impacts the Alaskan Arctic".

This "meet and great" panel event is in advance of the Conference on Global Leadership in the Arctic: Cooperation, Innovation, Engagement and Resilience (GLACIER). The GLACIER conference is being hosted by the U.S. Department of State on August 30-31 to highlight international and domestic priorities in the Arctic. More than 200 journalists have signed up to attend the GLACIER conference and attendance at the expo is expected to also be high.

Panelists at the expo will be addressing topics including boreal forests & wildfires, wetland drying, permafrost & infrastructure, coastal erosion, food security, ocean acidification, sea ice, fisheries, marine mammals, weather, and climate. Scott Rupp, University Director of the AK CSC, will be participating on a panel. USGS staff and scientists will also be attending the event.

See the full list of speakers and details >>

FOR MEDIA: See the Media Advisory for the event >>

Researchers Work to Understand Climate Change Impacts to Vegetation in the Northern Rockies

As climate change impacts begin to manifest in the north central US, researchers are actively working to understand the vulnerability of key species. Climate change will impact plants directly in terms of establishment, growth, and death of populations, but it will also have an indirect effect as the result of disturbances such as fire and pests, competition for resources, pollination, and seed dispersal. Models that incorporate climate may not predict exactly which species will thrive in the future, but they may provide one filter for where particular species are likely to be most successful. Forest managers cannot manipulate large-scale climate change to suit certain vegetation types, but they may be able to use their knowledge of suitability to alter disturbances, establishment, and interactions with other species.

Whitebark PineIn an attempt to assess vulnerability of tree species and biome types in the Northern Rocky Mountains, partners of the North Central Climate Science Center (NC CSC) are creating models that combine climate data and scale-relevant land management options. Impacts team lead Andy Hansen is working alongside Linda Phillips (Montana State University) to sample 11 subalpine tree species and 8 biome types to run under IPCC emissions scenario models. According to their findings, subalpine species will substantially lose suitability, particularly whitebark pine which is projected to face a drop from 21% suitability currently down to just .5-7% by 2100. Chang et al. (2014) focused specifically on this species in his own research, arguing that restoration strategies including strategic planting of seedlings and control of competing vegetation may be necessary to maintain species like whitebark pine under more extreme climate scenarios.

A decrease in whitebark pine in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem could impact black bear habitat, soil stability, and snowmelt runoff. Climate suitability shifts also come alongside mountain pine beetle infestations and white pine blister rust, both of which alter whitebark pine's success as a species. Meanwhile, some vegetation types including Ponderosa pine and grand fir are projected to increase their suitability range significantly. Climate change will ultimately mean an upward elevation movement for species currently in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, but rocky terrain in this area will further constrain suitability. Climate change is also expected to favor conditions for certain pests and disturbances such as mountain pine beetle, which adds extra management challenges for decision makers. Through the use of vulnerability studies, an improved understanding of climate suitability, and the insertion of climate change data into future models, researchers hope to help prioritize tree species in line with climate adaptation strategies in the Greater Yellowstone region.

Learn more about NC CSC funded research on this topic:

Informing Implementation of the Greater Yellowstone Coordinating Committee’s (GYCC) Whitebark Pine (WBP) Strategy Based on Climate Sciences, Ecological Forecasting, and Valuation of WBP-Related Ecosystem Services

Impacts and Vulnerability: Climate, Ecosystem Processes, and Vegetation in the NC CSC Region: Ecological Impacts Foundational Science for the North Central Climate Science Center

New Study Encourages Inclusion of Adaptive Capacity when Assessing Vulnerability

A new paper led by U.S. Geological Survey Ecologists Erik Beever (Research Ecologist, Northern Rocky Mountain Science Center) and Michelle Staudinger (Science Coordinator, Northeast Climate Science Center) addresses the importance of including adaptive capacity of species as a fundamental component when assessing vulnerability to rapid climate change.

Vulnerability to climate change is dependent on the amount of climate change a species will experience (exposure), its responsiveness to direct and indirect climate impacts (sensitivity), and – the focus of this study – its ability to accommodate those changes through adaptive capacity. Adaptive capacity accounts for coping mechanisms such as changes in behavior, movements including shifts in geographical range and distribution, as well as genetic evolution to adjust to environmental or ecological stressors.  

Pika in NevadaA nationwide survey conducted by the National Climate Change and Wildlife Science Center (NCCWSC) of hundreds of climate change vulnerability assessments found that among the three components of vulnerability, adaptive capacity is evaluated the least frequently, that adaptive capacity is often omitted entirely, and that adaptive capacity is often confused with sensitivity.  To address these limitations, USGS and colleagues from a broad range of federal and state agencies, academic institutions, and non-governmental organizations identify ecological features that contribute to adaptive capacity, highlight the potential role for management and conservation to enhance species’ adaptive capacity, outline research needed to better understand adaptive capacity, and provide case studies illustrating how the inclusion of adaptive capacity can enhance species-response models to climate change. 

The authors argue that consistent inclusion of adaptive capacity would improve existing vulnerability assessments, the efficacy of climate change adaptation efforts, natural resource management, conservation, decision-making, and related policies.  By not fully accounting for species’ inherent abilities to respond to environmental and ecological change, future projections may be overestimating extinction potential of some species; however, the authors assert that existence of adaptive capacity does not indicate species can handle unlimited amounts of contemporary climate change.  In sum, variability in adaptive capacity among populations and species will have profound implications for which species are most rapidly and markedly affected by climate change. 

The study, “Improving Conservation Outcomes with a New Paradigm for Understanding Species’ Fundamental and Realized Adaptive Capacity” has recently been published in the early online edition of Conservation Letters.  The publication represented a collaborative effort between the U.S. Geological Survey, Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, National Research Council, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Park Service, universities from across the country and world, and several NGOs.    

For more information, contact Erik Beever at 406-994-7670, ebeever@usgs.gov or Michelle Staudinger at (413) 577-1318, mstaudinger@usgs.gov.   

Image on page: Pika by Shana Weber

Visit NCCWSC & CSC Researchers at the 2015 American Fisheries Society Meeting!

Several researchers and staff, including the Director of the USGS National Climate Change and Wildlife Science Center (NCCWSC), will be attending and presenting at this year's annual meeting of the American Fisheries Society in Portland, OR (August 16-20, 2015). If you are attending the meeting, don't miss these presentations!

Monday, August 17, 2015

Portfolio Effects for Resident Trout: Implications for Management
Presenter: Keith Nislow, Northern Research Station, USDA Forest Service; Northeast Climate Science Center funded research
Monday, August 17, 2015: 1:40 PM
Symposium: The Plastic Portfolio Effect: Managing the Life History Composition of Populations

Preliminary Examination of Atlantic Bluefin Tuna Thunnus thynnus Feeding Ecology in the Northern Gulf of Mexico
Presenter: Christopher M. Butler, University of Southern Mississippi
Co-author: Michelle D. Staudinger, Science Coordinator, Northeast Climate Science Center
Oral Presentation: Marine Fish Habitat Associations Part 1

Ecological and Management Implications of Climate Change Induced Shifts in Phenology of Coastal Fish and Wildlife Species in the Northeast Region
Presenter: Michelle D. Staudinger, Science Coordinator, Northeast Climate Science Center
Monday, August 17, 2015
Poster Session: Monitoring Methods for Marine Fisheries

Predicting Temporal and Spatial Shifts in Bluefin Tuna (Thunnus thynnus) Diets in the Atlantic Ocean Using a Bagged Classification Tree Approach
Presenter: Michelle D. Staudinger, Science Coordinator, Northeast Climate Science Center
Monday, August 17, 2015
Poster Session: Nutrition of Marine and Freshwater Fish

Crossing the Divide: Promoting Cross-Disciplinary Discussion Between Inland and Marine Fisheries for Improved Sustainability Part 1
Symposium Co-organizer: Abigail Lynch, Research Fisheries Biologist, USGS National Climate Change and Wildlife Science Center
Monday, August 17, 2015: 1:20 PM-5:20 PM


Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Crossing the Divide: Promoting Cross-Disciplinary Discussion Between Inland and Marine Fisheries for Improved Sustainability Part 2
Symposium Co-organizer: Abigail Lynch, Research Fisheries Biologist, USGS National Climate Change and Wildlife Science Center
Tuesday, August 18, 2015: 8:00 AM-10:00 AM


Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Why Carp Are More Valuable than Bluefin Tuna
Presenter: Doug Beard, Chief, USGS National Climate Change and Wildlife Science Center
Wednesday, August 19, 2015: 8:00 AM
Symposium: Enhancing Sustainability of Inland Fisheries through Cross-Sectoral Collaboration
Symposium Co-organizers include Abigail Lynch and Doug Beard

Fishing from Space: A Bayesian Model of Global Inland Fish Production
Presenter: Andrew Deines, Michigan State University
Co-author: Doug Beard, Chief, USGS National Climate Change and Wildlife Science Center
Wednesday, August 19, 2015: 9:20 AM
Symposium: Enhancing Sustainability of Inland Fisheries through Cross-Sectoral Collaboration

Drivers and Synergies in the Management of Inland Fisheries: Searching for Sustainable Solutions
Presenter: Abigail Lynch, Research Fisheries Biologist, USGS National Climate Change and Wildlife Science Center
Co-author: Doug Beard, Chief, USGS National Climate Change and Wildlife Science Center
Wednesday, August 19, 2015: 9:40 AM
Symposium: Enhancing Sustainability of Inland Fisheries through Cross-Sectoral Collaboration

Use of Household Dynamics to Estimate Inland Fisheries Harvest
Presenter: So-Jung Youn, Michigan State University
Co-author: Doug Beard, Chief, USGS National Climate Change and Wildlife Science Center
Wednesday, August 19, 2015: 11:40 AM
Symposium: Enhancing Sustainability of Inland Fisheries through Cross-Sectoral Collaboration

The Fisheries Blog: A Lesson in Engaging People with Fisheries Science
Presenter: Stephen Midway, Pennsylvania State University
Co-author: Abigail Lynch, Research Fisheries Biologist, USGS National Climate Change and Wildlife Science Center
Wednesday, August 19, 2015: 1:40 PM
Symposium: Science Communication: Lessons Learned, Best Practices and the Future
 

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Documented Effects of Climate Change on Warm-Water Fishes: Workshop Synthesis and Data Gaps
Presenter: Bonnie Myers, Research Fish Biologist, National Climate Change and Wildlife Science Center
Co-authors: Abigail Lynch & Doug Beard
Thursday, August 20, 2015: 8:00 AM
Symposium: Warm-Water Fishes in a Warming World: Impacts of Climate Change on Populations, Distributions, and Habitat

Spatial Variation in the Fish Assemblage of a Large Great Plains River
Presenter: Jonathan Kennen , U.S. Geological Survey; South Central Climate Science Center funded research
Thursday, August 20, 2015: 8:00 AM
Oral Presentation: Freshwater Fish Assemblages

 

Updated: August 5, 2015
Posted: August 3, 2015

 

Postdoctoral Researcher Openings: Reducing risks to biodiversity and human well-being from ecological effects of drought

We are seeking two postdoctoral researchers to participate in the project "Landscape Sensitivity to Ecological Drought: The Knowns, Needs, and Solutions for the Real World". Funded by the National Climate Change and Wildlife Science Center (NCCWSC) in partnership with Science for Nature and People (SNAP), the project will assess the state of understanding of current and future drought impacts across a range of ecological systems in the United States, and connect those impacts with actional strategies for reducing risks to biodiversity and human well-being.

Position is open until filled!

Find more details on the position announcement >>

Posted on July 27, 2015

Don't Miss these CSC Presentations at the 2015 ESA Meeting!

If you're heading to the Ecological Society of America (ESA) annual meeting this year (August 9-14, 2015), be sure to check out these presentations by some of our Climate Science Center staff and researchers: 

Monday, August 10:

Climatic and nonclimatic controls shaping early postglacial conifer history in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, USA (COS 14-1)
Speaker: Teresa R. Krause, Postdoctoral Fellow, Southwest Climate Science Center
Monday, August 10, 2015: 1:30 PM
Contributed Talk: Paleoecology (COS 14)

Amphibians and climate change: Perspectives on where we are & looking forward (OPS 2-8)
Presenter: Maureen E. Ryan, University of Washington; Northwest Climate Science Center funded research
Monday, August 10, 2015
Organized Poster Session: New Frontiers in Amphibian Conservation (OPS 2)


ESA Logo for 2015Tuesday, August 11:

Visualizing the effects of climate change on hawk migration phenology: Results from an experimental collaboration between the academic, public, private, and non-governmental sectors (COS 28-1)
Speaker: Richard Feldman, University of Massachusetts; Northeast Climate Science Center supported research
Tuesday, August 11, 2015: 8:00 AM
Contributed Talk: Education: Community-Based Learning (COS 28)

Biodiversity across varying environments: Mechanisms of compositional stasis and change (SYMP 4-2)
Speaker: Jessica Blois, University of California - Merced; with Steve Jackson, Director, Southwest Climate Science Center
Tuesday, August 11, 2015: 8:30 AM
Symposium: Understanding Temporal Trends of Biodiversity (SYMP 4)

Changes in our story: Traditional and Western discussions of change and how it affects subsistence gathering for the Port Gamble S'Klallam Tribe (OOS 29-4)
Speaker: Gail Woodside, Oregon State University; Northwest Climate Science Center funded research
Tuesday, August 11, 2015: 2:30 PM
Organized Oral Session: Resilience to Climate Change Using Traditional Ecological Knowledge and Western Science (OOS 29)

Adaptive capacity of socioecological systems under climate change in north central United States (OOS 26-7)
Speaker: Dennis Ojima, University Director, North Central Climate Science Center
Tuesday, August 11, 2015: 3:40 PM
Organized Oral Session: Climate Change in Wildlands: Pioneering Applications of Science to Management in the Rocky and Appalachian Mountains (OOS 26)

Anthropogenic change drives non-parallel sexual signal divergence among three species of Bahamian mosquitofish (COS 50-7)
Speaker: Sean T. Giery, Applied Ecology, North Carolina State University, Southeast Climate Science Center Fellow
Tuesday, August 11, 2015: 3:40 PM
Contributed Talk: Evolutionary Ecology (COS 50)

Elements of success for climate adaptation planning: A USGS perspective (OOS 26-8)
Speaker: Jeff Morisette, Director, North Central Climate Science Center
Tuesday, August 11, 2015: 4:00 PM
Organized Oral Session: Climate Change in Wildlands: Pioneering Applications of Science to Management in the Rocky and Appalachian Mountains (OOS 26)

Accounting for dispersal and habitat use when estimating survival of a migrant songbird (PS 40-202)
Presenter: Grant M. Connette, University of Missouri, Postdoctoral Fellow, Northeast Climate Science Center
Tuesday, August 11, 2015
Poster Session: Modeling (PS 40)


Wednesday, August 12:

Decoupling direct and indirect effects of atmospheric warming on decomposition rates of wood-rot fungi (COS 61-9)
Speaker: Madeleine A. Rubenstein, Yale University; National Climate Change and Wildlife Science Center Presidential Management Fellow
Wednesday, August 12, 2015: 10:50 AM
Contributed Talk: Biogeochemistry: Linking Community Structure And Ecosystem Function II (COS 61)

Natural is not enough: Expanding Leopold’s Quadrant in a world of change (SYMP 15-1)
Speaker: Steve Jackson, Director, Southwest Climate Science Center
Wednesday, August 12, 2015: 1:30 PM
Symposium: Coupled Natural and Human Systems Science: The Need, Challenges and Rewards (SYMP 15)

Managing climate change refugia for climate adaptation (SYMP 13-6)
Speaker: Toni Lyn Morelli, Research Ecologist, Northeast Climate Science Center
Wednesday, August 12, 2015: 4:10 PM
Symposium: High-Elevation Ecosystems in a Warmer World: Mechanisms of Change and Interactions Between Abiotic and Biotic Processes (SYMP 13)

Can a fire-vegetation-microclimate feedback maintain community boundaries under simulated global change? (PS 46-59)
Presenter: Michael Just, North Carolina State University, Southeast Climate Science Center Fellow
Wednesday, August 12, 2015
Poster Session: Fire (PS 46)

Estimating abundance for three endangered Florida Keys butterflies (PS 50-106)
Presenter: Erica H. Henry, North Carolina State University, Southeast Climate Science Center Fellow
Wednesday, August 12, 2015
Poster Session: Conservation Management (PS 50)
 

Thursday, August 13: 

Biology, chance, and environment: Three contrasting perspectives on community structure and composition (OOS 80-4)
Speaker: Steve Jackson, Director, Southwest Climate Science Center
Thursday, August 13, 2015: 2:30 PM
Organized Oral Session: External Influences on Ecological Theory: The Effects of Economic, Sociopolitical, Climatic, and Other Conditions (OOS 80)


Friday, August 14:

Chasing the tail: The importance of extremes in a changing climate (OOS 88-1)
Speaker: Alexander Gershunov, University of California San Diego; Southwest Climate Science Center funded research
Co-author: Steve Jackson, Director, Southwest Climate Science Center
Friday, August 14, 2015: 8:00 AM
Organized Oral Session: Extreme Disturbance Events Leading to Forest Ecosystem Change (OOS 88)

The biotic and abiotic effects of urban habitats on an herbivorous pest of street trees (COS 151-3)
Speaker: Adam Dale, North Carolina State University, Southeast Climate Science Cener Fellow
Friday, August 14, 2015: 8:40 AM
Contributed Talk: Urban Ecosystems IV (COS 151)

Using GIS to compare street tree performance across a range of urban conditions (PS 106-266)
Kristi M Backe, North Carolina State University, Southeast Climate Science Center Fellow
Friday, August 14, 2015
Poster Session: Latebreaking: Sustainability (PS 106)


Other Items of Interest:

USGS Meet and Greet Reception
Tuesday, August 11, 2015: 6:30 PM-8:30 PM

The co-production of actionable science: A decision maker's perspective (OOS 74-1)
Speaker: David Behar, Advisory Committee on Climate Change and Natural Resource Science (ACCCNRS)
Thursday, August 13, 2015: 1:30 PM
Organized Oral Session: Usable Science: Meeting the Needs of Decision Makers in a Changing World (OOS 74)

 

This year, the ESA is celebrating its centennial! The 100th Annual ESA Meeting will be held August 9-14, 2015, in Baltimore, MD. This meeting's theme is “Ecological Science at the Frontier: Celebrating ESA’s Centennial”. http://esa.org/baltimore/

Updated: August 3, 2015
Posted: July 24, 2015

As Climate Warms Hawaiian Forest Birds Lose More Ground to Mosquitoes

USGS Press Release

Hawai‘i, the name alone elicits images of rhythmic traditional dancing, breathtaking azure sea coasts and scenes of vibrant birds flitting through lush jungle canopy. Unfortunately, the future of many native Hawaiian birds looks grim as diseases carried by mosquitoes are due to expand into higher elevation safe zones.

A new study published in Global Change Biology, by researchers at the U.S. Geological Survey and the University of Wisconsin-Madison, assesses how global climate change will affect future malaria risk to native Hawaiian bird populations in the coming century.

Mosquito-carried diseases such as avian pox and avian malaria have been devastating native Hawaiian forest birds. A single mosquito bite can transfer malaria parasites to a susceptible bird, where the death rate may exceed 90 percent for some species. As a result, many already threatened or endangered native birds now only survive in disease-free refuges found in high-elevation forests where mosquito populations and malaria development are limited by colder temperatures. Unlike continental bird species, island birds cannot move northward in response to climate change or increased disease stressors, but must adapt or move to less hospitable habitats to survive.

“We knew that temperature had significant effects on mosquitoes and malaria, but we were surprised that rainfall also played an important role,” said USGS Wisconsin Cooperative Wildlife Research Unit scientist Michael Samuel. “Additional rainfall will favor mosquitoes as much as the temperature change.”

With warming temperatures, mosquitoes will move farther upslope and increase in number. The authors expect high-elevation areas to remain mosquito-free, but only until mid-century when mosquito-friendly temperatures will begin to appear at higher elevations. Future increases in rainfall will likely benefit the mosquitoes as well.

Scientists know that historically, malaria has caused bird extinctions, but changing climates could affect the bird-mosquito-disease system in unknown ways. “We wanted to figure out how climate change impacts birds in the future,” said Wei Liao, post-doctorate at University of Wisconsin-Madison and lead author of the article.

As more mosquitoes move up the mountainside, disease-free refuges will no longer provide a safe haven for the most vulnerable species. The rate of disease infection is likely to speed up as the numbers of mosquitoes increase and more diseased birds become hosts to the parasites, continuing the cycle of infection to healthy birds.

Researchers conclude that future global climate change will cause substantial decreases in the abundance and diversity of remaining Hawaiian bird communities. Without significant intervention many native Hawaiian species, like the scarlet ‘I‘iwi with its iconic curved bill, will suffer major population declines or extinction due to increasing risk from avian malaria during the 21st century.

There is hope for the birds. Because these effects are unlikely to appear before mid-century, natural resource managers have time to implement conservation strategies to protect these unique species from further decimation. Land managers could work toward preventing forest bird number declines by restoring and improving habitat for the birds, reducing mosquitoes on a large scale and controlling predators of forest birds. 

“Hawaiian forest birds are some of the most threatened forest birds in the world,” said Samuel. “They are totally unique to Hawai‘i and found nowhere else. They are also important to the Hawaiian culture. And at this point, we still don’t fully understand what role they play as pollinators and in forest dynamics.”

The article, “Will a Warmer and Wetter Future Cause Extinction of Native Hawaiian Forest Birds?” can be found in the online edition of Global Change Biology.

The work was supported by the Department of Interior Pacific Islands Climate Science Center, which is managed by the USGS National Climate Change and Wildlife Science Center. The center is one of eight that provides scientific information to help natural resource managers respond effectively to climate change.

Image on page: The Hawaiian ‘I‘iwi, a native forest bird species only found in the Hawaiian Islands. Robby Kohley.

CSCs Participate in Cross-Cultural Collaboration Workshop for Climate Adaptation Solutions

Members of five Climate Science Centers (North Central, Northeast, Northwest, Southeast, & South Central) attended and participated in this year’s Rising Voices 3 (RV3) workshop in Boulder, CO on June 29-30, 2015 that was co-sponsored by the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) and the North Central Climate Science Center (NC CSC).

CSC Participants at Rising VoicesThe workshop incorporated the theme of Learning and Doing: Education and Adaptation through Diverse Ways of Knowing. Rising Voices workshops are an opportunity for collaboration that facilitate cross-cultural approaches for adaptation solutions to climate variability and change. The Rising Voices “family” is made up of engaged indigenous leaders, indigenous and non-indigenous environmental experts, students, youth, and scientific professionals across the United States, including representatives from tribal, local, state, and federal resource management agencies, academia, tribal colleges, and research organizations. 

The two and a half day workshop focused on the following topics this year: water, health and livelihoods, phenology, and relocation. Working groups convened to generate discussion and follow-up action items. Additionally, some of the outcomes that RV3 aspired to are: developing new and stronger adaptation partnerships; ideas for improving curricula and student/early-career involvement; recommendations to catalyze national and international climate policy; and to jointly write reports, proceedings, and proclamations stemming from the workshop’s action items and building on previous Rising Voices workshop outcomes. Lastly, a robust evaluation process of Rising Voices, using scientific and indigenous metrics, is being carried out by the College of Menominee Nation’s Sustainability Development Institute and staff of NCAR.

One of the most striking aspects of the workshop are the stories of climate impacts shared throughout the meeting coupled with impressive research and engagement of place by tribal youth. As in previous years, a strong Pacific Islands contingent was also present at RV3.

Several representatives from the CSCs that attended the workshop are pictured above. From left to right in the photo they are: on the first row: Brian Miller (North Central CSC Research Scientist) and Arwen Bird (with the University of Washington, Northwest CSC consortium member) and back: Aranzazu Lascurain (Southeast CSC Program Coordinator), Gary Collins (North Central CSC Joint Stakeholder Committee), Jeff Morisette (North Central CSC Federal Director), Marie Schaefer (with the College of Menominee Nation, Northeast CSC consortium member), Laura Farris (North Central CSC Joint Stakeholder Committee), Dennis Ojima (North Central CSC University Director) and Wendy Dorman (with the College of Menominee Nation, Northeast CSC consortium member). Shannon McNeeley (North Central CSC Research Scientist), Paulette Blanchard and Scott Ketchum (students affiliated with the CSC network) were also in attendance.

Staff from the Department of the Interior (DOI) outside of the CSCs included the active participation of Eric Wood, of the USGS Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) Center and the USGS Climate and Land Use Change representative for the Office of Tribal Relations, as well as Nicole Herman-Mercer of the USGS National Research Office in Denver. 

For more information on Rising Voices, visit: https://www.mmm.ucar.edu/rising-voices-home

Climate and Fires Tightly Linked Over the Past Century in the Northern Rocky Mountains

Despite large changes in forest management and fire suppression, climate strongly influences wildfire activity in the northern Rocky Mountains, according to research published by a team of University of Idaho and U.S. Geological Survey scientists.

The increase in wildfires in the past 30 years coincides with an increase in warm, dry summer conditions, according to the study. The same is true for a period in the early 20th century, including the dramatic fires of 1910. During a cooler, wetter period in the mid-20th century, fire activity decreased.

The team used previously published records documenting burned areas in Idaho and western Montana and compared fire patterns to seasonal climate records revealing the flammability of forest vegetation. The findings were published last week in the peer-reviewed journal PLOS ONE, in a paper lead by Philip Higuera, associate professor in the University of Idaho’s College of Natural Resources. 

Wildfires are a natural component of most forests across the 46,000-square-mile study region, and the team wanted to better understanding how climate relates to periods of widespread burning — and if and how the relationship between climate and wildfire activity changed over the last 110 years.  

While climate and fire have been tightly linked over the past century, the work also suggests increased burning over the past several decades has been larger than expected based on climate alone, potentially related to the lack of burning during the mid 20th century.

“Climate has enabled fire across the Northern Rockies for the past hundred-plus years despite the significant role that humans have played in managing our lands. Our results suggest climate variability and change will continue to shape fire activity across the forests of the interior northwest,” says John Abatzoglou, UI associate professor of geography and coauthor of the study.

With warmer, drier conditions predicted in the future, many scientists expect large wildfires will become more common. By understanding the links between climate and wildfires in the past, this study helps provide context for understanding current wildfires and how forests may respond to future climate change.

Much of the Northwest and Northern Rockies are already in “moderate” or “severe” drought this summer.

“The tight link between fire and climate documented by this research suggests the potential for an unusually large fire season across much of the region,” Higuera said.

Jeremey Littell, co-author on the paper, is a research scientist with the Alaska Climate Science Center. The project was funded by the National Science Foundation and the University of Idaho. 

The paper can be found at: http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0127563

University of Idaho Press Release

Picture on page by Greg Pederson, USGS