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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.

Interesting Image


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.




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