Integrating short-term climate forecast into a restoration management support tool

Science Center Objects

Natural resources managers are regularly required to make decisions regarding upcoming restoration treatments, often based on little more than business as usual practices. To assist in the decision-making process, we created a tool that predicts site-specific soil moisture and climate for the upcoming year, and provides guidance on whether common restoration activities (i.e. seeding, planting) ...

Natural resources managers are regularly required to make decisions regarding upcoming restoration treatments, often based on little more than business as usual practices. To assist in the decision-making process, we created a tool that predicts site-specific soil moisture and climate for the upcoming year, and provides guidance on whether common restoration activities (i.e. seeding, planting) will be successful based on these conditions. This tool is hosted within the Land Treatment Exploration Tool (LTET), an application already used by land managers that delivers a report of site condition and treatment history.

 

Incorporated within the short-term drought forecaster (STDF) is a rigorous statistical process, that takes monthly forecasts from the National Weather Service (NWS) and downscales these predictions in both space and time. Furthermore, this logic accounts for the inherent uncertainty in weather forecasting, while maintaining the likely predicted outcome from the NWS. These downscaled weather forecasts are then used to drive an ecohydrology model that predicts soil moisture.

 

The STDF allows users to explore historical climate and soil moisture for reference and access multi-month forecasts that provide specific quantitative guidance about what these metrics suggest for the likelihood of seeding and planting success (Figure 1). With this added functionality to the LTET, managers are provided a suite of information that provide site-specific reference of conditions and treatments, as well as potential upcoming conditions, that can guide decision making for greater restoration success.



Figure caption: Screenshot of short-term forecasts of soil moisture for a specific site, incorporated in the Land Treatment Exploration Tool. These are 18 month time-series displaying observed data for 6 months in the recent past, and 12 month predictions of the future. The top panel shows observed (yellow) and predicted (purple) medians, with the long-term historical median (black) for comparison in the background. The bottom panel shows deviations of the observed and predicted values from the historical median.