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ClimateWise Enews April 2015

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Geos Institute

ClimateWise Enews April 2015


In this issue:
  • Why You Should Be at the National Adaptation Forum
  • Whole Community Adaptation: Testing the Concept
  • Whole Community Adaptation in the Real World: A Framework for Creating Lasting Solutions
  • Talking about Climate Change
  • First, Do No Harm: Recognizing and Preventing Maladaptation


Whole Community Adaptation: Testing the Concept

Please help us by filling out our survey!

As climate change continues to unfold, we are seeing it touch and alter every part of our communities. As decision makers respond, they need to be aware of how others are impacted and how they are also responding. Without cross-sector coordination, our experience tells us that actions in one sector are likely to exacerbate climate change impacts to other sectors, simply shifting the risk instead of increasing overall resilience.

At the Geos Institute, we have developed an approach to climate change preparedness called “Whole Community Adaptation.” This approach involves working across sectors to foster a more holistic understanding of the variety of impacts across a community.

We think it works better than single sector planning, which focuses specifically on one particular issue (water, transportation, health impacts, etc.), but have not yet tested that premise from a research standpoint. That is, until now.

In order to test whether Whole Community Adaptation works better than single sector planning in creating community resilience, we have initiated a comparative research project. We are looking at whether the types of adaptation strategies developed in cross-sector planning adaptation planning processes differ from those developed using traditional single-sector adaptation planning processes.

To move this research along, our ClimateWise team is reviewing adaptation plans from both cross-sector and single sector planning processes.

Some of the questions we hope to answer include:

  • Are adaptation strategies developed in cross-sector planning processes more or less likely to result in conflict or maladaptation?
  • Are adaptation strategies developed in cross-sector planning processes more or less likely to result in co-benefits to other resources and populations?
  • Are adaptation strategies developed in cross-sector planning processes more or less likely to increase greenhouse gas emissions?
  • What types of planning frameworks have been used to develop cross-sector adaptation strategies?

If you have been involved in a planning process that incorporated climate change, please fill out our 10-question survey on the process and the types of strategies that were developed.

If you are familiar with an adaptation plan or strategy development process that you think we should include in our review, please contact Dr. Marni Koopman. Remember, we need both single sector and multi-sector plans for our study.

Sharing our experiences and learning at this time is incredibly important for the development of best practices for building climate change resilience in our communities. Thank you!



Talking about Climate Change

Climate change is an awkward subject to talk about. In some circles, bringing up the topic can lead to an acute case of silence (cue crickets). But we need to be talking about it in all circles and especially in decision-making capacities. One of the leading organizations on climate change communication is Climate Access.

We recently listened in on a Climate Access webinar on how to talk about climate change during extreme cold and snow events. They suggested communicating the links between climate change and changes in the jet stream or polar vortex destabilization to show how larger storms are one of the many outcomes of accelerating climate change.

Climate Access has also released a new report that provides guidance for local leaders in how to move people to action with solutions-based messaging. In preparing the report, they investigated American attitudes, experiences, and terminology preferences.
Some important findings:

  • “Preparedness” and “readiness” are preferred terms over “adaptation” and “resilience”
  • 74% of survey respondents support taking precautionary actions now rather than waiting to respond to worsening climate change impacts
  • Extreme events present an opportunity for communication and outreach to help build awareness that climate change is affecting us now
  • Effective communications focus on local and current climate impacts and what can be done to prepare for additional impacts instead of waiting until it is too costly or too late to act
  • Conversations about the science create polarization while conversations about the solutions bridge the political divide
  • It is important to link to core American values like preparedness, ingenuity, and leadership to action on climate change
  • Storytelling is a powerful technique for framing the issue
  • Mitigation can be framed as a “preparedness” strategy – the most important way to reduce risk.

Why You Should Be at the National Adaptation Forum, May 12-14


NAF logoTwo months from now, hundreds of climate change adaptation practitioners and service providers will descend on St. Louis, Missouri to share, learn, and be inspired at the 2nd National Adaptation Forum.


The first forum, held in Denver in 2013, attracted over 500 people representing 44 states. The 2015 Forum expects to welcome an even larger crowd – a testament to the speed with which the nascent field of climate change adaptation is growing.


As a Forum sponsor, the ClimateWise® team will have an exhibit in the tradeshow and will organize two sessions – a working group that will take on the topic of maladaptation and a three hour training in the ClimateWise planning framework for local leaders.




Whole Community Adaptation in the Real World: A Framework for Creating Lasting Solutions


In this interactive training, participants will learn how to get started with adaptation, identify community vulnerabilities, integrate across diverse sectors, and make sure that implementation happens. Climate change is complex and an integrated, whole community approach is vital to long-term success.


Our team has carried out ClimateWise adaptation processes in several states and will share lessons learned and tools to make local efforts more successful. This training involves short presentations by experienced adaptation practitioners, group and breakout discussions, and role playing – participants might get to be a public health official, fisheries biologist, fire chief, or public works director!


This fun and informative training is appropriate for anyone who wants to help their community create solutions that work across sectors, make the best use of their resources, and reduce community conflict.




First, Do No Harm: Recognizing and Preventing Maladaptation


“Maladaptation” is a mouthful, but the topic is an important one for us to take up now that adaptation actions are being implemented and we are beginning to see some of the unintended consequences.


Maladaptation occurs when adaptation strategies have negative consequences, sometimes outweighing any benefit, especially over longer time frames. Maladaptive actions are those that: 

  • increase emissions of greenhouse gases,
  • disproportionately burden the most vulnerable,
  • have high opportunity costs,
  • reduce the incentive to adapt, or
  • create path dependencies that limit future generations (Barnett and O’Neill 2010).

Maladaptation can arise as a surprise when new and innovative approaches are tried, as a predictable “trade-off” to make gains in another area, or even due to mainstreaming, which relies on tools or frameworks that are already in place.


Working group participants will help to refine the definition of maladaptation, identify common examples of maladaptation, discuss how time frame and trade-offs play a role, investigate whether mainstreaming contributes to the problem, and identify planning frameworks that can be used to minimize the likelihood of maladaptation.

ClimateWise Enews January 2015

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Geos Institute

ClimateWise Enews January 2015


In this issue:
  • Hot Enough Yet? The Future of Extreme Weather in Central Texas
  • Summary of Past and Future Climate Extremes in Austin, Texas
  • ClimateWise in Alaska
  • President’s Taskforce on Climate Preparedness and Resilience


Hot Enough Yet? The Future of Extreme Weather in Central Texas


Austin and Killeen, Texas have experienced many temperature and precipitation extremes in the last decade. As climate change accelerates, residents can expect more days of extreme heat, fewer overnight freezes, and more frequent periods of drought than there have been historically.

Many of the long-term impacts can be avoided if emissions are reduced, creating a more positive future for residents of Central Texas. A Nurtured World, Geos Institute, and the cities of Austin and Killeen collaborated to assess recent past and future changes in extreme heat, low temperatures, extended drought, and wildfire.

Most people experience climate through the extremes. Crops are affected when temperatures drop below freezing, and we stay indoors when the day’s high is over 100° F. We worked with city decision makers to determine the most meaningful thresholds to assess.

The next step will occur in the spring, when we will hold workshops on climate change with local community leaders.

The ClimateWise team developed a dynamic, online presentation to make the information in the final report more accessible for busy residents and public officials. For the full report, please click here.

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President’s Taskforce on Climate Preparedness and Resilience



The President’s Taskforce on Climate Preparedness and Resilience was set up to develop guidance on how the federal government can best support local communities in the face of climate change. The Taskforce was composed of 26 governors, mayors, county officials, and tribal leaders from around the nation. The Taskforce met from Nov. 2013-July 2014 and released their final report in Nov. 2014.

Recognizing that climate change will affect virtually all aspects of the nation’s future, the Taskforce focused on opportunities to build climate preparedness and resilience in key domains, including disaster recovery, infrastructure investment, natural resource management, human health, community development, and agriculture.

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Members of the President’s Taskforce on Climate Preparedness and Resilience, at the White House in 2014.


Some notable recommendations include:

  • Increase infrastructure resilience through use of green and natural infrastructure;
  • Provide incentives for the development of clean energy distribution and storage;
  • Identify the most vulnerable populations to climate change impacts for federal support;
  • Develop climate-sensitive health tracking and surveillance tools;
  • Remove federal barriers to disaster planning that considers climate change risk;
  • Increase partnerships and collaboration in disaster planning and recovery efforts;
  • Assist communities in building food security; and
  • Increase natural systems resilience through improved natural systems management, watershed protection, and investments in conservation.

“In my time as Mayor, Des Moines has experienced an unprecedented number of 100 and 500 year flood events. Our responsibility as a City is to ensure the safety of all our citizens and their property. Sometimes that process requires strategic buyouts of properties that fall within the floodplain. For this to work effectively, local, state, and federal partners must work closely together and interagency coordination must be a priority in order to avoid conflicting direction from multiple authorities that negatively impact residents.”
– Mayor Frank Cownie, Des Moines, Iowa

Support ClimateWise


ClimateWise is working to bring technical and planning support to the communities that are on the front lines of climate change. We see increasing need for this work, at a time when other funding sources are declining. Please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to our work for 2015.


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Summary of Past and Future Climate Extremes in Austin, Texas

  • The region has warmed by 2°F since the early 1900s.
  • Frost free season is 10 days longer, on average, than the early 1900s.
  • Extreme precipitation has become heavier and more frequent.
  • Wildfire frequency and length of season have increased in Texas.
  • Continued warming of 6-11°F by 2100 is expected if emissions remain high.
  • With severe emissions reductions, warming could level off at 3-7°F by mid-century.
  • Overnight temperatures over 80°F could become common.
  • Days over 100°F expected to become 2-5 times more common by mid-century.
  • More year-to-year variation in precipitation is expected.
  • Soils are expected to become drier from heat and evaporation, even if precipitation increases.
  • Many of the most severe impacts can be avoided by reducing emissions globally.


ClimateWise in Alaska


On January 2, the Los Angeles Times reported that temperatures in Anchorage, Alaska did not drop below zero degrees Fahrenheit at any time in 2014. And, data from the National Weather Service shows that 2014 was the warmest year in the city since 1926. In an average year, Anchorage residents experience 29 days with temperatures that dip below zero, so this is a significant change from a typical Alaskan winter.

You do not need to tell Alaskans that the climate is changing. From the coastal villages to the larger cities, Alaskans are grappling with changes to their food, infrastructure, and livelihoods. For example, for the first time ever, febrile seizures caused by overheating were reported in infants living in native villages last summer.
The ClimateWise team has been working with the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium for the past several years to determine how best to assist Alaskan communities as they address the impacts of changing climate conditions. Recently, our Executive Director, Tonya Graham, was invited to speak as part of a climate change track at the Alaska Tribal Conference on Environmental Management. The Conference brings together tribes, nonprofits, and government agencies for a week of break-out sessions, presentations, and trainings – all with the goal of finding solutions for concerns facing Alaskan communities.

According to Tonya, “In each of my trips to Alaska, I have heard many powerful, painful stories of loss related to climate change – particularly among Alaska’s native people. The impacts are accelerating rapidly and more communities and families are in real danger because of it. We are hopeful that ClimateWise can offer real help to the communities that need it.”

We are working with a variety of agencies, individuals, and funding organizations to put a program on the ground in Alaska by the end of 2015.
The powerpoint for Tonya’s presentation can be found here: 


ClimateWise Enews Fall 2014

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Geos Institute

Fall 2014 ClimateWise Enews


  • Climate Change Adaptation in Fort Collins, Colorado
  • Georgetown Climate Center Releases Recommendations to the President’s Taskforce on Climate Preparedness and Resilience
  • HUD Announces $1 Billion National Disaster Resilience Competition
  • California Adaptation Forum 


Climate Change Adaptation in Fort Collins, Colorado


In 2012-2013, Fort Collins Colorado experienced a series of extreme events – drought, fire, heat, and flooding that broke historic record after record. The city was ready for some of these events, but not all of them, and not in such quick succession. Luckily, city leaders are taking climate change seriously. They are looking at the model projections and coming up with win-win solutions that not only reduce the risk, but also improve peoples’ daily lives. These strategies build resilience across all parts of the community as conditions continue to become more extreme and less predictable.
The Geos Institute helped city department heads identify their vulnerabilities to climate change so that they can develop integrated and long lasting solutions that are specific to their community’s needs and values. This process was just one step in a much longer effort that will eventually engage local businesses, residents, and surrounding communities as well.

We were so impressed with the local leadership and their practical yet proactive approach that we made a video about them! We hope this video helps other community leaders realize the urgency of taking action on climate change and protecting their citizens and resources in a coordinated and collaborative manner.


watch video




HUD Announces $1 Billion National Disaster Resilience Competition


States and communities that have been struck by natural disasters in recent years are now able to apply for funding for risk assessment, planning, and implementation of innovative resilience projects through the National Disaster Resilience Competition.

Eligible applicants include all states with counties that experienced a Presidentially Declared Major Disaster from 2011 to 2013. This includes 48 of 50 states along with Washington DC and Puerto Rico. In addition 17 local governments that have received PL 113-2 funding are eligible.

The Competition seeks to meet the following six objectives:

  1. Fairly and effectively allocate $1 billion in remaining CDBG-DR funds.
  2. Create multiple examples of modern disaster recovery that apply science-based and forward-looking risk analysis to address recovery, resilience, and revitalization needs.
  3.  Leave a legacy of institutionalizing—in as many states and local jurisdictions as possible—the implementation of thoughtful, sound, and resilient approaches to addressing future risks.
  4. Provide resources to help communities plan and implement disaster recovery that makes them more resilient to future extreme weather events or other shocks, while also improving quality of life for existing residents.
  5. Fully engage community stakeholders to inform them about the impacts of climate change and develop pathways to resilience based on sound science.
  6. Leverage investments from the philanthropic community to help communities define problems, set policy goals, explore options, and craft solutions to inform their own local and regional resilient recovery strategies.

Phase I applications will be due in March of 2015. If your community is eligible for this funding and you need technical, planning or outreach assistance, please contact Tonya Graham at the Geos Institute:





California Adaptation Forum 


Organized by the Local Government Commission and the State of California, the first California Adaptation Forum welcomed over 600 attendees from a diverse array of backgrounds, including elected officials, public and private-sector leaders, nonprofits, and researchers. Topics addressed included public health, energy, water, emergency management, agriculture, biodiversity conservation and coastal management issues associated with climate change and adaptation.

This forum built off last year’s successful National Adaptation Forum in Colorado. Our Executive Director, Tonya Graham, attended the Forum and was struck by the breadth and depth of adaptation discussions. Lunch time keynotes with representatives from the banking industry, insurance companies, utilities, emergency management, and the White House National Security Council underscored the complexity of the problem of climate change and the fact that there will be no simple answers.

Perhaps better than anywhere else in the country, Californians understand that climate change is not an environmental issue. While we experience it through natural systems, climate change is an issue that affects all aspects of our lives, both individually and collectively. With its strong state level leadership on this issue, California is blazing a trail of regulatory reform and community response that benefits their citizens while providing guidance for other states that are just now beginning to understand the magnitude of the threats posed by a changing climate.
Audio recordings of the sessions can be found here.


Thanks for reading! We are interested in your adaptation work and how our services might complement what you have underway so feel free to contact Marni Koopman, Climate Change Scientist for Geos Institute or call 541.482.4459 x303. Please keep in touch by signing up for ClimateWise News and “liking” Geos Institute on Facebook.



Georgetown Climate Center Releases Recommendations to the President’s Taskforce on Climate Preparedness and Resilience

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The Georgetown Climate Center has released 100 recommendations to improve, repurpose, and deploy federal programs to help communities prepare for the impacts of climate change.  
This new report “Preparing Our Communities for Climate Impacts: Recommendations for Federal Action” builds upon lessons learned by local leaders post-disaster in New Orleans (Hurricane Katrina), New York (Hurricane Sandy), and Vermont (Hurricane Irene).

The report is perfectly timed as President Obama’s Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience is taking up this very issue – how to adapt federal programs, funding streams, regulations, and policies to better meet the needs of communities as they work to build resiliency and address climate change-driven threats.
Identified in the report are more than 30 federal programs, initiatives, and laws that can be used to prepare for rising seas as well as extreme events, such as storms, floods, and heat waves.



ClimateWise Enews Summer 2014

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Geos Institute

Summer 2014 ClimateWise Enews

  • Geos Institute delivers recommendations to the President’s Taskforce on Climate Preparedness and Collaborative Planning for Water Resources in the Southern Sierra, California
  • GIS Services available
  • President Obama Announces $1 Billion National Disaster Resiliency Competition
  • 2014 National Climate Assessment Released



Geos Institute Delivers Recommendations to the President’s Taskforce on Climate Preparedness and Resilience

Geos Institute drafted and submitted recommendations for President Obama’s Taskforce on Climate Preparedness and Resilience. These recommendations were delivered to the Taskforce, along with 67 other signers who have actively engaged in climate change adaptation in 39 states and 27 foreign countries.

The Taskforce was established to advise the Obama Administration on how the Federal Government can respond to the needs of communities nationwide that are dealing with the impacts of climate change.
Taskforce members include state, local and tribal leaders from across the country who are using their first-hand experiences in building climate preparedness and resilience in their communities to inform their recommendations to the Administration.

The Taskforce has been very open to receiving input as they work to develop their recommendations, so our ClimateWise team decided to share what we have learned by working with community leaders and adaptation colleagues over the past six years.

Our five top recommendations for federal action are:

  1. Support whole community solutions. Because climate change is all-encompassing, its impacts will be felt throughout entire communities and ecological systems. Solutions need to be derived from collaborative, integrated planning that considers diverse needs and values. These whole community solutions tend to be better investments for the community, have greater overall support, and prevent current and future conflict. It is particularly important that the federal government encourage and support local leaders and resource managers in implementing collaborative solutions that address community needs while maintaining and enhancing the natural systems through which we experience climate change. This means integrating our responses across natural and human systems, across sectors within a community, and across political and ownership jurisdictions.
  2. Consolidate federal support. Local leaders around the country need a single, regional point of engagement for assistance from the federal government. Currently there are too many different places communities need to go to for assistance in building resiliency and preparedness, none of which are comprehensive. Climate Science Centers, Landscape Conservation Cooperatives, USDA Regional Hubs, and state climate change hubs all exist to serve a particular sector or need. Local leaders need a single place to access planning and technical assistance. A series of regional centers that combine, where possible, federal and state resources to provide planning guidance, technical resources, and funding streams would greatly assist them.  
  3. Prioritize vulnerable populations and resources. Climate change is expected to most impact those who are least able to respond due to ongoing stressors and socioeconomic vulnerabilities. Yet, at the same time, climate change presents us with an opportunity to resolve historic inequities, conflicts, and chronic stressors in order to strengthen vulnerable populations and resources. A national vulnerability assessment could help identify and prioritize the most vulnerable populations, economic drivers, and natural resources in order to provide additional support.
  4. Bring in the experts. Data, models and tools are widely available for local leaders to use to better understand natural disasters, long-term trends, and the nature of accelerating change. Most communities, however, lack the staffing or technical capacity needed to process the data, understand the output, and incorporate this new information into their day-to-day operations and long-term plans. Federal funding sources are needed for communities to secure expert assistance so that they may make the best use of the technical resources available to them and implement solutions.
  5. Protect watersheds. Issues of water quality, quantity, and timing are already fraught with conflict and differing values. It is increasingly clear that our best long-term solutions are ones that will protect, enhance, and restore natural watershed function and minimize the use of technologies that disrupt this function. Water issues are topping the list of concerns for communities around the country. Federal funding and policies that support projects that provide multiple human and ecological benefits, along with model projects implemented by federal agencies, would serve as powerful motivators for communities to rethink how they plan for water security.     
The Taskforce will present its formal recommendations to the Obama Administration later this fall. 


Collaborative Planning for Water Resources in the Southern Sierra, California

The Geos Institute is assisting Provost and Pritchard Consulting, Bobby Kamansky Ecological Consulting, and many others to develop a water management plan for the Southern Sierra that is resilient to climate change.

Broad scale changes in climate are already impacting local conditions across the West and are likely to continue and accelerate in the coming decades. Changes include the timing and availability of water, changes in tree and wildlife species, and changes in wildfire frequency and intensity.

Overall, managers in the Southern Sierra can expect warmer temperatures, declining snowpack, a dramatic shift in timing for runoff, and shifts in major types of vegetation. Changes in precipitation and wildfire patterns are also likely.

Local communities will need to plan for such changes in order to continue to provide vital services to local residents and to support the economy. Integrating climate change science into water management planning is one step towards preparing people for climate change.

The state of California has committed to an integrated approach to managing its water resources. This approach, called Integrated Regional Water Management (IRWM) planning, brings together water-related interests to plan for sustainable water use, reliable supply, improved water quality, ecologically sound management, low use development, protection of agriculture, and a strong local economy.

On June 5, 2014, a diverse group of local stakeholders and water managers convened at the Provost and Pritchard office in Fresno, CA to develop adaptation strategies to incorporate into the SSIRWMP. These strategies included watershed restoration to hold water at higher elevations and keep it in the system longer. Also recommended was a return to more natural wildfire regimes that allow forests to burn over large landscapes. This would allow restoration of forests, reducing overly dense stands, and releasing more water into the wetlands, streams, and rivers.

A final SSIRWM Plan is expected in September 2014. For more information and updates on the project, view our project web page.

Southern Sierra snowpack change


In Need of GIS Services?

Geos Institute can provide custom and locally-specific analysis of spatial data, including data on land use, climate change, carbon storage, energy corridors, intact ecosystems, hydrology, and others. We can help identify potential climate refugia, areas of high importance for water resources, or corridors for wildlife facing climate change. Geos Institute can maximize spatial data to provide the results you’re looking for, as well as well-designed, attractive maps that can make a difference when communicating your message effectively.

Services offered:

  • Advanced Spatial Analysis
  • Cartography
  • Interactive Web Mapping Applications
  • Geoprocessing Tools for Map Automation
For more information, contact Jessica Leonard, Spatial Analysis Program Manager, or call 541.482.4459 x309.

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2014 National Climate Assessment Released

In spring, 2014, the U.S. Global Change Research Program released its Third National Climate Assessment (NCA). The National Climate Assessment provides an in-depth look at climate change impacts on the U.S. It details the multitude of ways climate change is already affecting and will increasingly affect the lives of Americans.

The NCA provides information on overall climate change trends (temperature increase, extreme storms, snowpack, etc.), changes related to different sectors of society (Agriculture, Forests, Human Health, Indigenous Peoples, etc.), trends for different regions of the U.S., and potential response strategies (mitigation, adaptation, research, etc.). The assessment finds that observed warming and other climatic changes are already triggering wide-ranging impacts in every region of our country and throughout our economy. They also determined that these changes are human-caused, and that the impacts being felt today are very small compared to those expected in the coming decades. Agricultural production, for instance, is highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change due to extreme weather events and the influx of pests and diseases. Water resources are also vulnerable, as water shortages and extreme rainfall become more common. Human health is also at risk with more extreme heat, declining air quality (because heat leads to ozone formation and due to smoke from wildfires), and flood risk.  

The NCA outlined a two-pronged approach to responding to climate change risks. The first prong is for the U.S and other nations to undertake aggressive and sustained emissions reductions to reduce the overall magnitude of climate change. While there is currently no federal mandate for reducing emissions, many measures have been taken to increase energy efficiency, clean technology, and alternative fuels. Some states have cap-and-trade or other greenhouse gas regulations in place. Because reducing emissions is associated with a whole suite of co-benefits, including reduced pollution and disease and economic savings, there are many reasons for undertaking an aggressive approach to emissions reductions.

The second prong is to prepare for climate change at the local and regional level. Much preparation (called “adaptation”) is already being developed, but little has been implemented due to a lack of resources and policy impediments. Because climate change risk is greatly exacerbated by other stressors (e.g. pollution, poverty, social inequity, ecosystem degradation), one approach to adaptation is to reduce those stressors and increase community resilience.

If you haven’t already explored the NCA, their online presentation is quite extraordinary, and worth your time. The highlights and full report are both available.


President Obama Announces $1 Billion National Disaster Resiliency Competition

In his commencement address at the University of California at Irvine, President Obama announced a new National Disaster Resilience Competition.

Noting that weather related disasters like droughts, fires, storms, and floods, are going to get “harsher and they are going to get costlier,” President Obama put forward this fund as a means to “help communities prepare for the impacts of climate change and build more resilient infrastructure across the country.”

Eligible entities include any state, city or tribe that experienced one of the more than 200 federally declared major disasters that happened in the U.S. between 2011 and 2013.  Roughly 20% of the fund will be dedicated to addressing housing needs of communities hit by Superstorm Sandy.

Grant winners will need to show how their proposal relates to the disaster from which they are recovering with a focus on innovation. Unlike other funding sources, this competition will allow communities to engage others in their community, including local stakeholders and non-governmental organizations, to determine the best ways to protect themselves in the face of future disruptions.
This funding is available through the US Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Community Development Block Grant-Disaster Recovery fund. The program draws on the experience of the Rebuild by Design program, which has supported ten interdisciplinary design teams in working with a diverse range of stakeholders throughout the Sandy-affected region to develop innovative solutions to rebuild.

The winning proposals can be found here:


Thanks for reading!  We are interested in your adaptation work and how our services might complement what you have underway so feel free to contact Marni Koopman, Climate Change Scientist for Geos Institute or call 541.482.4459 x303. Please keep in touch by signing up for ClimateWise News and “liking” Geos Institute on Facebook.




ClimateWise Enews Fall 2013

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Geos Institute

Fall 2013 ClimateWise Enews


  • IPCC Fifth Assessment WG1 Report Released
  • Project Round-up
  • New Reports & Data
  • Funding Opportunities


IPCC Fifth Assessment Working Group 1 Report Released


The International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), established by the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) in 1988, releases a report on the current state of climate change knowledge along with potential environmental and socio-economic impacts every 6-7 years. Working Group 1 (WG1), tasked with reporting on “The Physical Basis” and “Summary for Policymakers,” recently released its contribution to the Fifth Assessment Report. Working Groups II and III, covering vulnerabilities, adaptation strategies, and mitigation, will release reports in the coming year.

The IPCC does not conduct any research of its own, rather it reviews the body of scientific research and draws on consensus and peer reviewed literature – over 9,200 scientific publications are cited in the report issued by Working Group 1! There are 209 Lead Authors and 50 Review Editors from 39 countries. More than 600 experts provided additional knowledge or expertise.

Important headlines from the Summary for Policymakers:

  • Human influence has been detected in warming of the atmosphere and the ocean, changes in the global water cycle, reductions in snow and ice, sea level rise, and climate extremes. This evidence for human influence has grown since AR4. It is extremely likely that human influence has been the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century.
  • Warming of the climate system is unequivocal, and since the 1950s, many of the observed changes are unprecedented over decades to millennia. The atmosphere and ocean have warmed, the amounts of snow and ice have diminished, sea level has risen, and the concentrations of greenhouse gases have increased.
  • The atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide (CO2), methane, and nitrous oxide have increased to levels unprecedented in at least the last 800,000 years. CO2 concentrations have increased by 40% since pre-industrial times, primarily from fossil fuel emissions and secondarily from net land use change emissions. The ocean has absorbed about 30% of the emitted anthropogenic carbon dioxide, causing ocean acidification.
  • The rate of sea level rise since the mid-19th century has been larger than the average rate during the previous two millennia (high confidence). Over the period 1901–2010, average sea level rose by 0.19 [0.17 to 0.21] m.

For more information:

Stay tuned for our run down of WG2: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability. The report is expected to be released in mid-March 2014.


New Reports and Data


EPA Reports Climate Change Impacts in 20 Watersheds

In a new report published by the EPA, results from watershed modeling in 20 large U.S. drainage basins were assessed on their sensitivity of streamflow, nutrient, and sediment loading to a range of likely mid-century (2041-2070) climate change and urban scenarios. In many study areas, the simulations suggest a likely change in streamflow and water quality endpoints.

Key Findings:

“There is a high degree of regional variability in the model simulated responses of different streamflow and water quality endpoints to a range of potential mid-21st century climatic conditions throughout the nation. Comparison of watershed simulations in all 20 study areas for the 2041-2070 time horizon suggests the following hydrologic changes may occur:

  • Potential streamflow volume decreases in the Rockies and interior southwest, and increases in the east and southeast coasts.
  • Higher peak streamflow will increase erosion and sediment transport; loads of nitrogen and phosphorus are also likely to increase in many watersheds.
  • Many watersheds are likely to experience significant changes in the timing of streamflow and pollutant delivery. In particular, there will be a tendency to shift from snowmelt-dominated spring runoff systems to rain-dominated systems with greater winter runoff.
  • Changes in nutrient and sediment loads are generally correlated with changes in hydrology.
  • Changes in watershed water balance and hydrologic processes are likely in many regions of the nation.”

To read the full report, click here.


Funding Opportunities


Even during the current fiscal situation, there are funding opportunities for vulnerability assessments and adaptation planning. We are interested in pursuing new partnerships with local communities, Tribes, and resource management agencies. Below are a few current funding opportunities.

  • NOAA Climate Program Office has funding opportunities for nine competitions, organized around the Climate Program Office’s Climate Observations and Monitoring (COM); Earth System Science (ESS); Modeling, Analysis, Predictions, and Projections (MAPP); and Climate and Societal Interactions (CSI) Programs. Information about those should be available as soon as the federal government is back up and running. The current deadline for final applications is November 14, 2013.
  • The Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) has up to $600,000 available in fiscal year 2013/2014 available for competitive grants for tribal adaptation, training, and tribal travel support to participate in technical training, workshops, forums and cooperatives. First round submissions are due November 29, 2013. 



Thanks for reading!  We are interested in your adaptation work and how our services might complement what you have underway so feel free to contact Marni Koopman, Climate Change Scientist for Geos Institute or call 541.482.4459 x303. Please keep in touch by signing up for ClimateWise News and “liking” Geos Institute on Facebook.
Project Round-up



Managing Coast Redwoods for Resilience in a Changing Climate


Climate change is good for redwoods! What? How could that be true? Recent research shows that redwoods are growing at unprecedented rates, likely due to longer growing seasons, more CO2, and even lower fog levels that allow more sun. The news isn’t all so sunny, however. Models show that short-term benefits of climate change will be far outweighed by the long-term impacts from higher temperatures and changes to fog and other precipitation.

Geos Institute and its partners, North Pacific Landscape Conservation Cooperative, Society for Conservation Biology, and EPIC, hosted a workshop and fieldtrip in early September to bring together scientists and mangers with expertise in redwood ecosystems. Few forests in the world have comparable species assemblages, enormous tree sizes, rich and structurally complex canopies, and exceptional biomass as the coast redwoods (Noss 2000, DellaSala 2011).

Yet, there is no comprehensive strategy currently available for helping managers prepare coast redwoods for climate change and land-use stressors despite the global significance of these forests, their important role storing carbon, and their vulnerability to disturbances.

The workshop brought together the diverse set of scientists and managers who work with redwoods to evaluate the leading science on stressors, including climate change, and identify and prioritize adaptation strategies for increasing the resilience of the redwood ecosystem. The all-day field trip provided participants with an opportunity to see first-hand the different strategies for moving young forests more quickly towards mature redwood structure.
Stay tuned for results from the workshop! We will compile a suite of best practices for redwood restoration and management for continued persistence as climate change progresses throughout the region.  

Noss, Reed F., ed. 2000. The redwood forest: History, ecology, and conservation of the Coast Redwoods. Washington D.C: Island Press.


Fort Collins Climate Change Adaptation and Planning Facilitation


The Geos Institute is pleased to announce a new partnership and project with the Brendle Group in Fort Collins, Colorado. Fort Collins has already established itself as a national leader in sustainability by setting goals and taking actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. With the launch of this planning effort, they are now taking steps to increase municipal and community preparedness in the face of climate change.
Building on past efforts of climate change scenario planning, we are developing a vulnerability assessment and adaptation planning framework to assist nine municipal departments in preparing for changes in temperature, precipitation patterns, wildfire, natural systems, weather extremes, and other variables. The framework will be available for other city departments and regional partners as well. 


Southern Sierra Integrated Regional Water Management Plan


The Southern Sierra Region of California is the fourth largest water management unit in the state and includes portions of the Kern, White Rivers, Deer Creek, Tule, Kaweah, Kings, and San Joaquin watersheds in Madera, Fresno, and Tulare counties. This region sources water for the globally-important agricultural operations on the San Joaquin valley floor.

Climate change is a critical issue facing water resources nationwide. With the Southern Sierra region having some of the state’s most iconic natural resources and the rivers already fully appropriated, climate change will have dramatic impacts on the area. Increasing temperature and changes in precipitation have already been observed, as reported in the Geos Institute publication “Integrated Strategies for a Vibrant and Sustainable Fresno County.” Climate change is expected to cause fluctuations in water yield and timing for run-off, necessitating changes in how the region manages its water.

Kamansky’s Ecological Consulting has tapped the ClimateWise team to provide updated climate projections that will inform the water planning process for the SSIRWMP. These will include projections for temperature, precipitation, snowpack, runoff, water deficit, vegetation change, and wildfire.





ClimateWise Enews Summer 2013

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Geos Institute


Summer 2013 ClimateWise Enews

Lessons from the National Adaptation Forum:

  • Climate Change and Historical Injustice (Op-Ed in the Ashland Daily Tidings)
  • Amazing Adaptation Professionals and Their Work

Snapshots of ClimateWise communities with a quiz question:

  • Greetings from the Kuskokwim River Watershed, AK
  • Plus, can you name the 1948 movie with a hurricane? (See below for clues)


Historical Injustices Surface Due to Climate Change

by Marni Koopman Ph.D., climate change scientist, Geos Institute

Published in the Ashland Daily Tidings

I recently attended the first nationwide meeting on climate change adaptation, called the National Adaptation Forum, in Denver, Colorado. This was a meeting of people from diverse backgrounds, all working on the same global issue — how to plan for and respond to the accelerating and inevitable impacts of climate change. There were sessions on biodiversity, water resources, tribal lands, coastal areas, social equity issues, infrastructure, coastal property rights and many other topics.

I attended a powerful session on social equity and an eye-opening session on impacts to Native American tribes. Here is what I learned…

Read the rest of Marni’s article here.



Meeting Amazing Adaptation Professionals

By Keith Henty, ClimateWise Project Developer

More than 500 people attended the National Adaptation Forum in Denver, and I wish I could have talked to them all. I did get to chat with dozens of fascinating, super-smart people and mention a few here. Those brief conversations plus excellent workshops sparked my imagination for dream jobs and potential partnerships.

The Geos Institute participated as a sponsor, presenter, and exhibitor (see our poster Creating ClimateWise Communities).

Read more highlights from the National Adaptation Forum.


Partnering in Alaska

By Ken Margolis, Geos Institute Development Director

Among other services, the Kuskokwim River Watershed Council provides training for village-based technicians who are responsible for many aspects of resource and environmental management. Thanks to their new partnership with the Geos Institute, KRWC will now add preparation for climate change impacts to its training elements.

KRWC will run a pilot Discovery Voyage in 2013. Staff members and volunteers will travel the length of the river by canoe, stopping at every village to collect demographic information.  They will install water monitoring stations at selected points along the river. If this initial journey goes well, it will become the template for an annual Discovery Voyage, collecting and sharing information each year.  The voyage is also symbolic of the way the river unifies all the people who make their home along it.

Council website
Read their current newsletter



In a previous ClimateWise enews we mentioned the National Estuarine Research Reserves and we want to highlight them again. They are fast becoming primary movers in the adaptation field and are notable conveners and catalysts for their communities.



Thanks for reading!  We’d be interested in your work in adaptation—don’t hesitate to write or call 541.482.4459 x303. Please keep in touch by signing up for ClimateWise News and “liking” the Geos Institute on Facebook.



Our Continuing Series: Snapshots of ClimateWise Communities

By Keith Henty, ClimateWise Project Developer


Community #1

The Geos Institute is collaborating with planners in the Kuskokwim River Watershed in Alaska!
Kuskokwim River, Alaska, after the rain

Who: Our partners at the Kuskokwim River Watershed Council (KRWC) serve and are governed by the 39 indigenous communities located along the river.

Where: See the Kuskokwim River Basin map
Welcome from KWRC Executive Director John Oscar:

The Kuskokwim River is the longest free flowing river in the USA.  It flows through a rich region that Yup’ik and Athabaskan peoples rely on for their subsistence activities. There are few places on earth where the relationship and dependence between a river, the land that drains into it, and its residents is so intense and crucial as it is along this mysterious and beautiful river. The Kuskokwim and the people that live along this river can’t be understood separately. We are all interconnected…



Community #2

Can you name the 1948 movie with a hurricane? It was directed by John Huston and starring some of the biggest stars of that time. Sound familiar?

More clues: At one point, as a hurricane outside grows stronger—the bad guy, Rocco, played by Edward G. Robinson, shows his anxiety. Humphrey Bogart does his famous sneer, and says, “You don’t like it, do you Rocco, the storm?  Show it your gun, why don’t you…?”
The name of this movie is the name of our project location. Click here to find out if your guess is correct and read more about the project!


ClimateWise E-news January 2013

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Geos Institute


ClimateWise® E-news January 2013

  • Project Launch! Protecting Vulnerable Communities in the Gulf (National Estuarine Research Reserves Take Action)
  • What’s at Risk from a Changing Climate?
  • Assessing Vulnerability and Developing Solutions in the Sierra Nevadas
  • Finding Funding and Assistance for Planning
  • What will be the Legacy of Hurricane Sandy?

  The Geos Institute is developing ClimateWise® in Alaska and the Gulf of Mexico, including the Florida Keys. Look for a feature on the Florida Keys and the Alaska projects in a future E-news.


Project Launch! Protecting Vulnerable Communities in the Gulf

by Keith Henty, ClimateWise Project Developer

Coastal communities and ecosystems in the Gulf of Mexico are especially vulnerable to extreme weather events as climate change accelerates. Sustainability coordinators, community managers, scientists, elected officials and others are already deeply involved in ongoing climate adaptation planning to protect their regions.

Lydia Ann Lighthouse, Texas. Photo: Kiersten Madden (Mission-Aransas NERR) 

The National Estuarine Research Reserves (NERRs) are already active in community education and coastal stewardship. (Estuaries are located where rivers meet the sea.) There are 28 NERRs around the U.S.; many are located in fragile coastal areas that are especially vulnerable to climate change. The reserve system is a networked partnership between the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and coastal states. The Gulf NERRs and the Geos Institute share NOAA’s strategic goal: A climate-literate public that understands its vulnerabilities to a changing climate and makes informed decisions.


Public marina, Apalachicola, Florida. Photo: Florida Dept. of Environmental Protection

The Geos Institute is delighted to begin collaborating with those at work in the Gulf of Mexico to initiate a series of ClimateWise® processes. One new multi-community proposal for 2013 focuses on developing climate change preparedness for National Estuarine Research Reserve Communities in Texas and Florida. To accomplish this, the Geos Institute is collaborating with planning leaders at two National Estuarine Research Reserves (or NERRs); the Mission-Aransas NERR in Port Aransas, Texas (near Corpus Christi), and the Apalachicola NERR in Franklin County, Florida.  


We acknowledge the people who are largely responsible for launching a ClimateWise® collaboration to prepare for regional impacts of climate change. They are:

Sally Palmer
  Sally Morehead Palmer
  Director, Mission-Aransas NERR (TX)

Kristen Hicks

  Kristin Hicks

  Coastal Training Program Coordinator

  Mission-Aransas NERR (TX)

Heather Wade

  Heather Wade Coastal Planning

  Specialist-Texas Sea Grant,

  University of Texas

  Marine Science Institute

Rosalyn Kilcollins
  Rosalyn Kilcollins
  Coastal Training Program Coordinator
  Apalachicola NERR (FL)

Click here to see the mapped National Estuarine Research Reserves project areas and surrounding communities.


Assessing Vulnerability and Developing Solutions in the Sierra Nevada

The California Landscape Conservation Cooperative has stepped up to fund a large-scale project for the Sierra – From Awareness to Action: A Vulnerability Assessment and Adaptation Strategies for Focal Resources of the Sierra Nevada.

Fall color near Conway Summit, Mono County, CA. Photo: Mike Baird

For this project, the Geos Institute is partnering with EcoAdapt, the Conservation Biology Institute and the US Forest Service. The Sierra Nevada is rich in biodiversity, providing a range of natural resources and ecosystem services. It is host to a large portion of the state’s water supply along with important cultural and recreational resources.

Projected climate change in the region is expected to significantly impact natural systems, which already suffer from severe air pollution, resource extraction, and an influx of invasive species. Ongoing conflicts over water resources, residential development, and use of federal lands will be heightened by climate change.

Our collaborative work is beginning with a science synthesis of climate change impacts for the Sierra Nevada. The project will feature two large workshops to review the science, assess resource vulnerabilities, and develop adaptation strategies. Anticipated products include online vulnerability assessment results for focal species and habitats and a portfolio of adaptation options that helps prioritize where, when, and how to implement actions.



For more information about ClimateWise® send an email to Keith Henty or call the Geos Institute 541 482-4459 x310.






What is ClimateWise®?

ClimateWise® is a process designed by the Geos Institute that helps communities develop climate change preparation strategies that are science-based and integrated across natural and human systems. It brings together local leaders and experts to design ecologically-sound and interdisciplinary solutions that increase synergies and cost-savings. The process is adapted to each community, based on local vulnerabilities, economic drivers, climate change impacts, values, and traditions. Read more about ClimateWise® services.


What’s at Risk from a Changing Climate?

By Marni Koopman, Ph.D., Climate Change Scientist, the Geos Institute

Climate change has been communicated and viewed largely as an environmental problem. Yet climate change is already affecting all sectors of local communities, including infrastructure, agriculture, fisheries, human health, emergency response, water supply, native American culture and customs, and many others. As climate change accelerates, extreme events are becoming more common and will eventually become the “norm” instead of the “extreme.”

People will respond to these extreme events in a variety of ways based on their level of preparedness. Unfortunately, when people respond to extreme events, such as drought, storm surge, or hurricanes, they often feel compelled to take action quickly. This often bypasses impact assessments and consideration of alternative strategies.

For example, when hurricane Irene hit the Northeastern U.S. in 2011, state and federal governments declared a state of emergency, allowing the widening and armoring of streams and rivers without permits or review. Unfortunately, such actions came too late to reduce damage to towns and roads, but they resulted in millions of dollars in damage to previously pristine and economically important rivers popular with visiting anglers. In fact, the response to the storm was far more damaging to ecological systems than the storm itself.

Coastal communities have already experienced severe impacts from rising seas combined with storm surges and human-caused stressors, such as drilling and runoff pollution. On a relative scale, however, these impacts will seem small compared to those expected in the coming decade. It is imperative that coastal communities put plans in place now to reduce their vulnerability and increase their resilience.

In areas with extensive and unique biological diversity, it is especially important that climate change preparedness supports both natural and human communities in a synergistic manner. Our attention is focused on communities adjacent to highly vulnerable barrier islands, ecological reserves, and intertidal and marine ecosystems.

We seek to prepare communities for extreme events by developing interdisciplinary and collaborative solutions that will reduce unintended impacts and conflict while increasing synergies and cost-savings through the ClimateWise® process.


Finding Funding and Assistance for Planning

Are you looking for help preparing your community for climate change? The Geos Institute can help. With full-scale ClimateWise® processes completed in seven western communities, and new partnerships developing in Texas, Florida, and Alaska, we have the experience and expertise to assist you in determining your local vulnerabilities and developing strategies to address them. Part of our mission is to help communities prepare for climate change, and we would like to help your community determine its next steps, including securing funding from public and private sources. We are glad to brainstorm and share ideas with you. Email to start the conversation.


What Will Be the Legacy of Hurricane Sandy?

NYC, October 2012. The East River begins to surge from the high winds of Sandy. Photo: NY Times


The tragic impacts of Hurricane Sandy have sparked renewed interest in preparing for “extreme climate events.” It is a wake up call with an increasingly clear message: Climate change is here; it is happening now. We need to take action now to reduce greenhouse gas pollution and prepare for the impacts of a changing climate. We are hopeful that we will come together as a country and start to take the steps necessary to protect our communities and the ecosystems they depend upon. Let’s start planning together.


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