North Central CASC Receives Funding from the Community for Data Integration (CDI) for New “Climate Scenarios Toolbox”

Release Date:

With support from the USGS Community for Data Integration (CDI), researchers at the North Central CASC will develop and implement an efficient and robust “Climate Scenarios Toolbox” to help on-the-ground management partners access and interpret relevant climate data, assess resource vulnerabilities to climate variability and change, and design adaptation strategies.

Stagecoach Lake, Steamboat, Colorado

Sunset at Stagecoach Lake, Steamboat, Colorado

(Credit: Mindy Ritchie, USGS. )

Scientific projections of future climate conditions provide crucial information to help land, water, and other resource managers anticipate and plan for future risks and develop adaptation strategies in response. However, these projections cannot perfectly predict the future and have uncertainties associated with them, and the related datasets can often be difficult to work with. Scientists and resource managers often use a process called “scenario planning” to help grapple with these challenges and uncertainties and their implications for resource management. In climate change scenario planning, climate projections are used to identify a small set (usually 3-5) of different plausible scenarios for particular areas. Managers and scientists can then use these scenarios to evaluate the range of potential impacts of climate change and identify appropriate and robust adaptation strategies.

Climate Adaptation Science Center (CASC) resource management partners, such as the National Park Service (NPS) Climate Change Response Program, the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), and The Nature Conservancy (TNC), have expressed a recurring need for summaries of climate data (graphics, tables, statistics) to use in scenario planning. With support from the USGS Community for Data Integration (CDI), researchers at the North Central CASC will develop and implement an efficient and robust “Climate Scenarios Toolbox” to help on-the-ground management partners such as these access and interpret relevant climate data, assess resource vulnerabilities to climate variability and change, and design adaptation strategies. This North Central CASC initiative is one of 14 projects awarded funding through CDI’s 2019 Request for Proposals (RFP).

The Climate Scenarios Toolbox will enable users to view scenarios of future changes in selected climate conditions for a certain time and place. The Toolbox will provide summaries of the trends and patterns, as well as customizable graphics, for historic and future time periods. Users will be able to make key choices about parameters for summarizing and displaying data, thereby tailoring it to their specific resource needs. A key goal for the research team is to support an open community of practice and foster community-driven improvements to future versions of the Toolbox. Management partners will play a key role in designing the Toolbox to maximize its utility and output for climate adaptation planning and decision-making. This online, public Toolbox will improve data integration within USGS and access to and usability of existing climate datasets. The Toolbox will be distinct from existing online tools for climate data visualization because it will be designed specifically to meet the needs of the resource management community and will be open-source and open-workflow.

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