Digest Highlights

Updates to the Digest: New content and layout
We've recently made a few updates to our monthly Digest in order to better meet the needs of our growing list of subscribers and partners. The new title, "Conservation Digest," will reflect these expansions to our monthly mailing. In addition to the usual list of climate-science publications provided by the Northwest Climate Science Center, we have expanded our content to include news and publications related to landscape scale conservation issues. If you would like to contribute content to our new section, please send it our way, and you can continue to send climate-science information to the NW CSC

Developing Evaluation Indicators for Coproducing Usable Climate Science
How can scientists measure the success of their coproduced climate science research? Researchers, supported by the Southwest Climate Science Center, present 45 potential indicators for doing so in a recent publication in Water, Climate, and Society. The paper shares results from two case studies that were used to test the indicators and lessons learned from evaluation. 
Read the full report here

Apply now for travel support to the National Adaptation Forum: Travel support to attend the National Adaptation Forum is available in limited quantities due to a handful of generous sponsors and will be awarded through a competitive review process. Eligible applicants include staff from government, tribal, non-profit organizations, community leaders, and university students working on or studying climate change adaptation. There are five tiers of Travel Support available depending on you travel needs. For detailed application instructions please click here.

Third Oregon Climate Assessment Report Released
Oregon State University scientists in the Oregon Climate Change Research Institute (OCCRI) just released the Third Oregon Climate Assessment Report. They produced the report in response to House Bill 3543 passed by the Oregon State Legislature in 2007 that, among other things, directs OCCRI to periodically "assess the state of climate change science, including biological, physical and social science, as it relates to Oregon and the likely effects of climate change on the state." Their latest assessment relies on recent published research to update previous work on climate change science and the impacts of climate disruption in Oregon, both as already seen and as projected to the mid- and late century. 
Learning Opportunities
*All times are Pacific time zone unless otherwise noted
2/15-2/16 – Symposium, Lakeview, OR. Northwest Basin and Range Ecosystem Symposium
2/21-2/23 – Training, Anchorage, AK. Institute for Tribal Environmental Professionals Tribal Climate Change Training.
2/22-2/24 – Conference, Canyonville, OR. 
State of the Beaver Conference 2017
2/24, 12pm (AK) – Webinar. National Weather Service Alaska Climate Outlook Briefing
3/2, 11-12pm – Webinar. Estuary Restoration and Salmon Recovery: Lessons from Salmon River, Oregon.
3/3, 10:30am-12pm - Webinar. Cascadia Partner Forum Webinar Series: Grizzly Bears
3/7-3/9 - Training, Spokane, WA. Institute for Tribal Environmental Professionals Tribal Climate Change Training.
3/8-3/10 – Conference, Washington D.C. National Environmental Justice Conference & Training Program

3/24-3/25 – Workshop, Seattle, WA. ComSciCon-PNW 2017
4/12-4/13 - Training, Durango, CO. National Conservation Training Center 
Climate Adaptation Workshop
5/9-5/11 – Forum, St. Paul, MN. National Adaptation Forum
Bull elk at Big Spring Creek, Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve, CO Photo credit: NPS

Landscape Conservation

Designing corridors with dispersal ecology in mind: Landscape connectivity describes how the movement of animals relates to landscape structure. The way in which movement among populations is affected by environmental conditions is important for predicting the effects of habitat fragmentation, and for defining conservation corridors. One approach has been to map resistance surfaces to characterize how environmental variables affect animal movement, and to use these surfaces to model connectivity. 

Scientists need to spend more time with their head in the clouds, study finds: A new agenda for aeroconservation seeks to restore habitat in the fragmented skies. From birds to bacteria, airborne organisms face substantial anthropogenic impacts. The airspace provides essential habitat for thousands of species, some of which spend most of their lives airborne. In this study, researchers provide a framework for defining aerial habitats to advance the study of aeroconservation and the protection of the airspace in environmental policy.

Desert LCC launches Landscape Conservation Design webinar series: This series is an informal learning opportunity for Desert Landscape Conservation Cooperative (Desert LCC) partners interested in landscape conservation.  Webinars in this series will showcase prominent regional and national examples that offer insights and lessons applicable to the Landscape Conservation Design (LCD) effort, specifically for three pilot landscapes – Eastern Mojave, Madrean Watersheds, and Dos Rios. The series will be a monthly, interactive webinar series, with presentations by key program leaders from each of the case examples. For more information, please contact Ashwin Naidu.

Tribes & First Nations

The Importance of Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) When Examining Climate Change: Dr. Samantha Chisholm Hatfield shares a personal account of her revelation about the importance of combining traditional ecological with western knowledge in a blog post for the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS). In her words “Traditional Ecological Knowledge evolves from generations of experience; a base that is incomparable in terms of the depth, breadth, and holistic perspectives that it provides for a given ecosystem.” Along with the value of incorporating diverse ways of knowing into climate science, Dr. Hatfield also discusses some of the risks and emphasizes the importance of using the Guidelines for Considering Traditional Knowledges (TKs) in Climate Change Initiatives.

Still time to register for February Anchorage, AK Climate Change Adaptation Training Course: The Institute for Tribal Environmental Professionals (ITEP) is excited to be collaborating with the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium (ANTHC) to offer a Climate Change Adaptation Planning course on February 21-23, 2017 in Anchorage, AK. There are still spots left in the course, so please apply.

Nisqually Tribe decides not to fish chum salmon in historic decision: For the first time ever, worries about population declines have led the Nisqually Tribe to close fishing for chum salmon this season. After several years of fish declines, they believe it's necessary to save the fish from disappearing completely. Nisqually Tribal member, Willie Frank III, son of famed environmental activist Billy Frank Jr., explains that his tribe’s connection to their environment and cultural traditions face historic challenge. In his words, "It was tough to explain to our elders and our tribal members that we're not going to be able to fish this year, because of the lack of salmon.”

Credit: David Hubbard

Climate-Science Publications

Coastal | Freshwater | Biodiversity | Fire | Forests | Climate Weather Reports

Much of the below information is compiled in partnership between the NPLCC and the Northwest Climate Science Center. Many thanks to those who have provided material for this edition, particularly the Pacific Northwest Climate Impacts Research Consortium, the Climate Impacts Group and theEnvironmental Protection Agency’s Climate Change and Water News

Coastal/Marine Ecosystems; Ocean Acidification; Sea Level Rise:

Short-lived greenhouse gases cause centuries of sea-level rise: Researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Simon Fraser University recently published their findings on the effect of short-lived greenhouse gases on sea-level rise. Using an Earth’s Systems Model (EMIC), the study quantified global temperature and sea-level rise in response to various greenhouse gas emission scenarios. Estimates of the effects of carbon dioxide (a long-lived greenhouse gas) were in line with previous studies, however the short-lived greenhouse gases, such as methane, exhibited a much longer impact on sea-level rise than formerly expected. 

Last year's El Nino resulted in unprecedented erosion of the Pacific coastline: The El Niño-Southern Oscillation is the dominant mode of interannual climate variability across the Pacific Ocean basin, with influence on the global climate. The two end members of the cycle, El Niño and La Niña, force anomalous oceanographic conditions and coastal response along the Pacific margin, exposing many heavily populated regions to increased coastal flooding and erosion hazards. However, a quantitative record of coastal impacts is spatially limited and temporally restricted to only the most recent events. Here, researchers report on the oceanographic forcing and coastal response of the 2015–2016 El Niño, one of the strongest of the last 145 years. 

Newly discovered phytoplankton groups appear to favor warmer oceans: An international team of scientists published new research on the discovery of new phytoplankton groups. Published in Current Biology, the team found high abundance of the new group of phytoplankton species in warmer, low-nutrient surface waters. These desert-like waters included the Sargasso Sea, Bay of Bengal and the North Pacific Gyre and represent projected future conditions under climate change. The team discovered these new groups through continuous year-round sampling and the construction of the Baseline Initiative, a database of over 6,000 RNA gene sequences. The study emphasized the need to better understand these groups of phytoplanktons species in order to gain a clearer picture of marine ecosystems under increased warming.

Landmark global scale study reveals potential future impact of ocean acidification: A team of scientists from Quebec and the United Kingdom analyzed metabolic behaviors in an intertidal snail (Littorina littorea) to better understand the impact of ocean acidification on a species with wide latitudinal range. The team collected snails from six different populations along the European coast that represented variation in water temperature (warm temperate, cold temperate and subpolar). They then placed the snails in a range of pH conditions and examined their metabolic responses. 

New NOAA report projects possible 8 feet of sea level rise by 2100: The Sea Level Rise and Coastal Flood Hazard Scenarios and Tools Interagency Task Force has recently released a report updating global sea level rise projections. The authors report that new scientific literature points to an extreme upper-bound scenario of 2.5m of global mean sea level rise by 2100. This is an increase in 0.5m from the upper-bound scenario enlisted in the Third National Climate Assessment (NCA3) and is due to the incorporation of Greenland and Antarctica rapid ice melt. In addition to the updated global mean sea level rise projection, the report discussed regional factors that affect sea level rise along the United States coastline. 


Freshwater Aquatic Resources and Ecosystems, Water Resources, Hydrology:

The 2014/2015 Snowpack Drought in Washington State and its Climate Forcing: The American Meteorological Society has released its 5th annual report of extreme events from the previous year. Included in the report is a section titled “The 2014/2015 Snowpack Drought in Washington State and its Climate Forcing.” Authored by Boniface Fosu and colleagues, the article discussed the “snowpack drought” of 2015, where an alteration in temperature caused a reduction in snowfall and an increase in rainfall, and consequently reduced snowpack and led to drought conditions. The authors concluded that a significant portion of the change in precipitation was due to changes in circulation patterns that were associated with the North Pacific climate variability. Specifically, the authors highlighted the North Pacific Index, a low frequency variability, as the driver for the cyclical relationship between temperature and precipitation.


Biodiversity/Species & Ecosystem Response:

Climate change prompts fish to change breeding behavior: A study led by biologists from the University of Washington examined the impact of climate change on growth and reproduction of high-latitude freshwater fish. Specifically, the study analyzed the biological and physical factors affecting Alaska’s three-spined stickleback fish using 5 decades of time series data. Their findings showed that three-spined stickleback spawned earlier in years when ice breakup occurred earlier. In some cases, this also resulted in the fish producing more than one brood. 

Testing how species respond to climate change: A study recently published in Global Change Biology examined the adaptability of species to respond to climate change. Led by scientists from the University of Bristol, the research team tested the adaptability of the tropical rainforest fly, Drosophila birchii, by transplanting them in cages along mountain gradients that represent the species altitudinal limits and measuring their reproductive success. The study found that abundance was greater in cooler, high-altitude sites while species fitness was greater in warmer, low-altitude sites. There was no evidence of local adaptation as the team found very little genetic variation across gradients.

Effects of past climate change on Heermann's Gull from late Quaternary to present: Climate change during the late Quaternary period (LQP) was a major driver in the shaping of species distributions and abundances. Understanding of the effects of climate change on population dynamics of marine species in temperate zones is growing. However, studies on the demographic history of seabirds are rare, and there is no description of how regional climate change has affected high-trophic-level marine species such as Heermann's Gull (Larus heermanni; Charadriiformes: Laridae). Authors of this study investigated whether the demographic history of Heermann's Gull reflects population change consistent with past changes in climate during the LQP. They also explored whether past changes affected the demographic history of codistributed marine organisms in a similar way. 

A new vulnerability assessment provides insights into where the effects of future ocean acidification will likely be greatest: A recent vulnerability assessment conducted on the the California Current, an upwelling system that already experiences inherently low pH conditions, suggests that  Dungeness crab fisheries, valued at about $220 million annually, may face a strong downturn over the next 50 years. Dungeness crabs will likely suffer from ocean acidification as their food sources decline. In contrast, pteropods and copepods, tiny marine organisms with shells that are vulnerable to acidification, will likely experience only a slight overall decline because they are prolific enough to offset much of the impact. Marine mammals and seabirds are less likely to be affected by ocean acidification, the study found.



Predicting Wildfire in the Western U.S. Under a Changing Climate: Although a complex process, wildfire modeling can have huge benefits for resource managers and communities who are looking to predict, prepare for, and reduce the damage caused by wildfires. A new publication, co-authored by Jeremy Littell at the Alaska CSC, examines the relationships between climate, hydrology, and wildfire – offering insight for improving the predictive power of wildfire models.

Firefighting blamed for 'megafires' ravaging US forests: So-called "megafires" are becoming increasingly common and destructive in the wildlands of the western United States. Could overzealous firefighting itself be to blame? BBC North America Correspondent, James Cook, interviews fire fighters, conservation directors, ranchers and Tom Tidwell, chief of the US Forest Service to investigate.



Tree-bark thickness indicates fire-resistance in a hotter future: A study led by scientists from Princeton University found that trees residing in fire-prone regions develop thicker bark. The authors studied 572 tree species distributed globally and measured bark thickness along with the wildfire frequency and rainfall levels of each region. They found a positive relationship between bark thickness and fire frequency, suggesting the fire-tolerance trait to be an evolutionary adaptation. The authors highlighted that trees living in regions of infrequent fires, such as tropical rainforests, may lack the ability to withstand burns, a probable consequence of increased drought in these regions due to further warming.


Climate Weather Reports & Services:

Evaluating Urban Resilience to Climate Change: A Multi-Sector Approach: EPA scientists and their collaborators have created an assessment tool to help cities identify climate change risks in eight different municipal sectors. The report identifies indicators of traits that may enhance or inhibit communities’ resilience to climate change, allowing decision makers to focus on planning issues that are least resilient to those impacts.

Projections of 21st century climate of the Columbia River Basin: Academic director of the Northwest Climate Science Center Philip Mote and climate scientists David Rupp from Oregon State University and John Abatzoglou from Idaho State University recently published a comprehensive report of 21st century climate projections for the Columbia River Basin. Using 35 global climate model (GCM) simulations from the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 5 (CMIP5), the authors summarized projections of both temperature and precipitation changes in the Columbia River Basin. Mean annual temperature is projected to increase by 2.8 ℃ by the late 21st century with 18% more warming during summer. Projections for changes in precipitation were slightly less confident than those for temperature as not all GCMs agreed on the sign of change (positive or negative). The report, published in Climate Dynamics, additionally addressed questions regarding the seasonal and interannual variability of climate projections.

The Third Oregon Climate Assessment Report: Oregon State University scientists in the Oregon Climate Change Research Institute (OCCRI) just released the Third Oregon Climate Assessment Report. They produced the report in response to House Bill 3543 passed by the Oregon State Legislature in 2007 that, among other things, directs OCCRI to periodically "assess the state of climate change science, including biological, physical and social science, as it relates to Oregon and the likely effects of climate change on the state." Their latest assessment relies on recent published research to update previous work on climate change science and the impacts of climate disruption in Oregon, both as already seen and as projected to the mid- and late century. 

Climate change to shift global pattern of mild weather: A new study from Princeton University examined the impact of climate change on the global frequency of mild weather. Led by climate scientist Karin van der Wiel, the study found that the global annual number of mild days will decrease by 10-13% by the end of the century, which is equivalent to approximately 10 days. On the regional scale, the study concluded a more varied projection of mild day frequency change. Tropical regions in Africa, Asia and Latin America were projected to exhibit the largest decline in mild days, from 15-50 less days per year. Conversely, regions in the mid-latitudes such as parts of the United States, Canada, and northern Europe were projected to gain mild weather days.


Visit the NPLCC website for a list of useful partner resources and listservs
The North Pacific Landscape Conservation Cooperative is pleased to provide this issue of our Conservation Digest as a service to our partners.  This monthly e-digest highlights emerging information about the conservation of natural and cultural resources, upcoming events, and training opportunities throughout the Pacific Northwest and beyond. 

The contents of the Conservation Digest are solely the responsibility of the cited authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the NPLCC or the Northwest Climate Science Center.

If you have information you would like to see highlighted in future issues, questions or comments, e-mail John Mankowski or Meghan Kearney 
John Mankowski - NPLCC Coordinator
Mary Mahaffy - NPLCC Science Coordinator
Tom Miewald - Data & Information Coordinator
Meghan Kearney - Communication Specialist
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