Model-Based Scenario Planning to Inform Climate Change Adaptation in the Northern Great Plains

Project Summary

Affiliation(s): North Central CSC

Principal Investigator(s):
  • Amy Symstad (Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center)

One of the biggest challenges facing resource managers today is not knowing exactly when, where, and how climate change effects will unfold. While models can be used to predict the types of impacts that climate change might have on a landscape, uncertainty remains surrounding factors such as how quickly changes will occur and how specific resources will respond.
In order to plan for this uncertain future, managers have begun to use a tool known as scenario planning. In this approach, a subset of global climate model projections are selected that represent a range of plausible future climate scenarios for a particular area. Through a series of facilitated workshops, managers can then explore different management options under each scenario, enabling them to be proactive in the face of uncertainty. However, selecting and synthesizing climate information for scenario planning requires significant time and skills, and it can be difficult to predict exactly how resources might respond to a combination of climate, management actions, and other factors.
Therefore, the goals of this project are to develop a process for creating regional climate summaries that can also be used for local scenario planning, and to pilot an approach for enhancing scenario planning through simulation modeling. Researchers will draw on global climate model projections to develop several climate summaries for the northern Great Plains region. The summaries will then be used for local-scale climate adaptation planning efforts for Badlands National Park (South Dakota) and Knife River Indian Villages National Historical Site (North Dakota) and surrounding federal and tribal lands. A final step will be to develop a simulation model for the South Dakota site to help managers address the “what if” questions regarding how management actions might affect focal resources under the different scenarios.
Not only will this project improve climate adaptation efforts in the northern Great Plains region, but it will also result in a new, integrative approach for identifying how climate change might affect key resources of management concern at a local-scale and what actions can be taken to protect these resources – a method that could be applied to management units across the country.

The Great Plains - Credit: Amy Symstad

Affiliation(s): North Central CSC

Principal Investigator(s):
  • Amy Symstad (Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center)
  • Brian Miller (Colorado State University)
  • Nicholas A. Fisichelli (Schoodic Institute at Acadia National Park)
  • Gregor Schuurman (National Park Service)
  • Melinda Koslow (National Park Service)
  • Andrea Ray (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration)
  • Jonathan M Friedman (USGS Fort Collins Science Center)
  • Erika Rowland (Wildlife Conservation Society)
  • Marian K Talbert (North Central Climate Science Center)
  • Milton Haar (National Park Service)
  • Brian Kenner (National Park Service)
  • Alan Anderson (U.S. Forest Service)
  • Mike McNeill (U.S. Forest Service)
  • Wendy Ross (National Park Service)
  • Cami Dixon (U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service)
  • Neil Shook (U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service)

Start Date: April 2015

End Date: July 2017

Project Status: In Progress

Tags: scenario planning, simulation modeling, northern Great Plains, Education, Modeling and Tools, Decision-Making Support and Tools, CSC, North Central CSC, 2015

Fiscal Year: FY 2015 Projects

Publications & Other

  • Resource management and operations in central North Dakota: Climate change scenario planning workshop summary November 12-13, 2015, Bismarck, ND

        • Resource management and operations in southwest South Dakota: Climate change scenario planning workshop summary January 20-21, 2016, Rapid City, SD