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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: 


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