Most regions of the United States are projected to experience a higher frequency of severe droughts and longer dry periods as a result of a warming climate. Even if current drought regimes remain unchanged, higher temperatures will interact with drought to exacerbate moisture limitation and water stress. Observations of regional-scale drought impacts and expectations of more frequent and severe droughts prompted a recent state-of-science synthesis (Vose et al. 2016). The current volume builds on that synthesis and provides region-specific management options for increasing resilience to drought for Alaska and Pacific Northwest, California, Hawai‘i and U.S.-Affiliated Pacific Islands, Interior West, Great Plains, Northeast and Midwest, and Southeast.
Learn about research into dry farming techniques for vegetable crops in the maritime Pacific Northwest. This project is supported by the USDA Northwest Climate Hub which provides science-based information to assist with making climate-informed decisions. Dry farming is a technique that utilizes the natural moisture retention of soil to grow crops without irrigation, which may be a useful strategy for farmers experiencing drought or altered precipitation patterns. This research was led by the Oregon State University Extension Service Small Farms program.
To learn more about the USDA Northwest Climate Hub, check out our website.
Shorelines in Alaska are changing, with significant consequences for the animals and people in this region. Organizing a series of student-led discussions with community leaders and Alaskan Native elders, Pacific Northwest Research Station scientists Adelaide Johnson and Linda Kruger have identified which coastal resources are of most concern to local communities and how coastal changes may impact these valued resources.
Click here for additional information about this project and a list of resources.
The South-Central Oregon Adaptation Partnership (SCOAP) was developed to identify climate change issues relevant for resource management on federal lands in south-central Oregon (Deschutes National Forest, Fremont-Winema National Forest, Ochoco National Forest, Crooked River National Grassland, Crater Lake National Park). This science-management partnership assessed the vulnerability of natural resources to climate change and developed adaptation options that minimize negative impacts of climate change and facilitate transition of diverse ecosystems to a warmer climate. The vulnerability assessment focused on water resources and infrastructure, fisheries and aquatic organisms, vegetation, wildlife, recreation, and ecosystem services. The vulnerability assessment shows that the effects of climate change on hydrology in south-central Oregon will be highly significant. Decreased snowpack and earlier snowmelt will shift the timing and magnitude of streamflow; peak flows will be higher, and summer low flows will be lower. Projected changes in climate and hydrology will have far-reaching effects on aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems, especially as frequency of extreme climate events (drought, low snowpack) and ecological disturbances (flooding, wildfire, insect outbreaks) increase. Distribution and abundance of cold-water fish species are expected to decrease in response to higher water temperature, although effects will vary as a function of local habitat and competition with nonnative fish. Higher air temperature, through its influence on soil moisture, is expected to cause gradual changes in the distribution and abundance of plant species, with drought-tolerant species becoming more dominant. Increased frequency and extent of wildfire and insect outbreaks will be the primary facilitator of vegetation change, in some cases leading to altered structure and function of ecosystems (e.g., more forest area in younger age classes). Vegetation change will alter wildlife habitat, with both positive and negative effects depending on animal species and ecosystem. Animal species with a narrow range of preferred habitats (e.g., sagebrush, riparian, old forest) will be the most vulnerable to large-scale species shifts and more disturbance. The effects of climate change on recreation activities are more difficult to project, although warmer temperatures are expected to create more opportunities for warm-weather activities (e.g., hiking, camping) and fewer opportunities for snow-based activities (e.g., skiing, snowmobiling). Recreationists modify their activities according to current conditions, but recreation management by federal agencies has generally not been so flexible. Of the ecosystem services considered in the assessment, timber supply and carbon sequestration may be affected by increasing frequency and extent of disturbances, and native pollinators may be affected by altered vegetation distribution and phenological mismatches between insects and plants.
Future alongshore benthic species shoreline lengths undergoing both sea level rise and relative sea level lowering (postglacial isostatic rebound) where SE Alaska Natives regularly conduct traditional and cultural harvests were approximated. From 30-km radii of six community centers, shorelines were examined by merging relevant portions of the NOAA ShoreZone database (utilizing alongshore bioband length segments as accounting units) with nearshore bathymetry and measures of mean global sea-level rise along with local GPS information of isostatic rebound rate. For this analysis, adjustments for the year 2108 were made by using 9868 alongshore length units (totaling 3466 km), each unit having uniform substrate and biologic type, by conducting geometric analysis of shoreline attributes. Given up to 1.8 m of sea level lowering, up to 30% decreases in estuary shoreline lengths are predicted. Trends, verified with both archeologic and land ownership records, confirm utility of simple geometric-based assessments (bathtub approach), particularly for low-energy bays with minimal stream input and bedrock/sediment-dominated shorelines and sites dominated by either isostatic rebound, sea level rise, or both. Predicted changes have implications for traditional and cultural gathering, food webs, and ocean carbon sequestration rates. For example, greater change in shoreline length segments is predicted for protected low-slope gradient bays and estuaries dominated by eelgrass (Zostera marina) and inferred butter clam (Saxidomus gigantean) habitats than for exposed, rocky, steep-gradient peninsulas with red foliose algae, including dulce (Palmaria sp.) and bull kelp (Nereocystis luetkeana).