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Watershed vulnerability assessment

Posted date: January 23, 2015
Publication Year: 
Authors: Isaak, Daniel J.;
Document type: Briefing Papers


Existing models and predictions project serious changes to worldwide hydrologic processes as a result of global climate change. Projections indicate that significant change may threaten National Forest System watersheds that are an important source of water used to support people, economies, and ecosystems.

Key findings:

  • Climate models predict substantial changes to worldwide temperatures and hydrologic processes throughout the 21st century. These effects pose significant challenges to the Forest Service and other land managers.
  • Many managers may have limited experience applying large-scale climate change information at the local-scale. This has led to uncertainties about likely impacts and appropriate responses.
  • The pilot Watershed Vulnerability Assessment project provides a useful, locally based assessment of water resource vulnerability to the impacts of climate change.
  • Assessing vulnerability is the essential first step in adapting to climate change, and this information provides a basis for managers to target investment of limited resources.

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