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Interior’s Secretary Jewell Announces New Wildlife and Climate Studies at the Southwest Climate Science Center
Climate Science Centers’ Research Designed to Fill Knowledge Gaps, Provide Land and Wildlife Managers with Tools to Adapt to Climate Change
Released: 12/19/2013 12:00:00 PM

Contact Information:
U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey
Office of Communications and Publishing
12201 Sunrise Valley Dr, MS 119
Reston, VA 20192
Stephen  T. Jackson 1-click interview
Phone: 307-760-0750 (C)

Leslie  Gordon 1-click interview
Phone: 650-329-4006

Reporters: Descriptions of the funded projects are available here.

Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell announced today that Interior’s Southwest Climate Science Center is awarding nearly $1.2 million to universities and other partners for research to guide managers of parks, refuges and other cultural and natural resources in planning how to help species and ecosystems adapt to climate change.

"Even as we take new steps to cut carbon pollution, we must also prepare for the impacts of a changing climate that are already being felt across the country," said Secretary Jewell. "These new studies, and others that are ongoing, will help provide valuable, unbiased science that land managers and others need to identify tools and strategies to foster resilience in resources across landscapes in the face of climate change."

The six funded studies will focus on how climate change will affect natural resources and management actions that can be taken to help offset such change. They include:

  • Characterizing how the changing climate of the Southwest is affecting cool- and warm-season precipitation in the Colorado River basin and the corresponding response of stream flow in individual sub-basins. The result will be a stream-flow projection product that better accounts for physical mechanisms of weather and climate on a regional and local scale, which can be directly used by water resource providers.
  • Clarifying impacts of natural climate variability on the frequencies and intensities of specific extreme temperature and precipitation events as well as their cascading influences on stream flow in the changing climate of the Southwest. Results of this study will help water, park, forest, fisheries and wildlife managers make better-informed decisions.
  • Linking climate, hydrological and ecological changes over the next 30 years in a Great Basin watershed. Climate change in this region is forecasted to affect water resources, and this project will help water managers identify threats and opportunities posed by climate variations in the next decades.
  • Examining the changing effects of the North Pacific Jet on water resources and Sierra Nevada fires. The NPJ is a high-altitude narrow path of strong winds over the North Pacific Ocean, and a key determinant of snowpack variability in California. Changes in the NPJ trajectory are forecasted for the future as the climate changes, which could greatly influence California water resources, ecosystems and fire. The project will inform decision makers for proactive wildland fire management.
  • Two studies that together will help improve best practices and communications among climate scientists and stakeholders, including agency managers.  With thousands of resource managers across the Southwest making tens of thousands of decisions that may well require climate science information, effective information transfer and stakeholder engagement in climate science are vital. The results from these assessments will be shared widely among the climate science and resource communities, and will help ensure that climate science is prioritized by what information is most critical for resource managers and decision makers.

"With its dry climate, flammable forests, extensive public lands and urban centers dependent on distant water sources, the southwestern United States faces many significant climate-related challenges," said Stephen T. Jackson, Interior’s Southwest Climate Science Center director.  "These projects will advance our scientific understanding of climate impacts while providing information that resource managers can use directly to guide their decisions and planning."

Each of the Department of the Interior's eight Climate Science Centers worked with states, tribes, federal agencies, Landscape Conservation Cooperatives, universities supporting the CSCs, and other regional partners to identify the highest priority management challenges in need of scientific input, and to solicit and select research projects.

The studies will be undertaken by teams of scientists from the universities that comprise the Southwest CSC, from USGS science centers and from other partners such as the states, the Bureau of Reclamation, the National Park Service, USDA Forest Service, Indian tribes, regional and municipal water-management agencies, and the Landscape Conservation Cooperatives in each region.

The eight DOI Climate Science Centers form a national network, and are coordinated by the National Climate Change and Wildlife Science Center, located at the headquarters of Interior's U.S. Geological Survey. CSCs and LCCs have been created under Interior's strategy to address the impacts of climate change on America’s waters, land, and other natural and cultural resources. Together, Interior's CSCs and LCCs will assess the impacts of climate change and other landscape-scale stressors that typically extend beyond the borders of any single national wildlife refuge, national park or Bureau of Land Management unit and will identify strategies to ensure that resources across landscapes are resilient in the face of climate change.

The Southwest Climate Science Center is hosted by the University of Arizona, Tucson, with the University of California, Davis; University of California, Los Angeles; Desert Research Institute; Scripps Institution of Oceanography (San Diego); and University of Colorado, Boulder. The CSC conducts climate change science for Arizona, California, Nevada, Utah and the Colorado River Headwaters in parts of Colorado, New Mexico and Wyoming.  

Useful links:

Southwest CSC Projects

Southwest CSC Homepage

Southwest CSC Consortium/University webpage

Full list of funded projects for all eight DOI Climate Science Centers

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