Webinar: Pacific Northwest Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment

Event Type: 
GNLCC Webinar
Date and Time: 
Apr 16, 2014 (All day)

Time: 12-1pm Mountain / 11am-12pm Pacific

Presenter: Julia Michalak, Postdoctoral Researcher, Landscape Ecology and Conservation Lab, University of Washington, Seattle

One of the first steps towards developing strategies to address climate change is to understand how and to what degree ecological systems and species will be vulnerable to projected changes.  The Pacific Northwest Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment (PNWCCVA) is an ongoing effort to provide such an understanding for the systems and species of the northwestern United States and southwestern Canada. The assessment is a joint effort of the Universities of Washington and Idaho, The Nature Conservancy, USGS, National Wildlife Federation, and Idaho, Washington, and Oregon state wildlife agencies. 

Major data components of the project include:

  1. an online database documenting inherent climate sensitivities of species and ecological systems
  2. downscaled (~1-km) datasets of over 40 climate variables
  3. mechanistic model projections of changes in biomes
  4. statistical model projections of shifts in vertebrate species’ climatic niches for over 350 vertebrate species
  5. mechanistic projections of potential changes to vertebrate distribution for a subset of 10 species

While developing climate vulnerability dataset is important, there is an equally great need to apply these data to management of real landscapes. To this end, we held a series of workshops with land managers in four case study landscapes, two in the Great Northern LCC, to explore how the data could be used and also how the data and research could be improved so that it can be more relevant to land management. In the Great Northern LCC, we worked with members of the Pioneers Alliance in the Pioneer Mountain-Craters of the Moon landscape of southeastern Idaho and completed a case study of whitebark pine (Pinus albicaulis). In addition, we worked with the Arid Lands Initiative in the Columbia Plateau Landscape and completed a case study of climate impacts and adaptation strategies for sagebrush steppe in this landscape. In this talk, we provide an overview of the PNWCCVA and its datasets, review results from the workshops, and discuss future challenges and opportunities for climate vulnerability assessment and adaptation planning.