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Climate Change Impacts & Resource Management Stephen T. Gray Water Resources Data System WY State Climate Office University of Wyoming.

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Presentation on theme: "Climate Change Impacts & Resource Management Stephen T. Gray Water Resources Data System WY State Climate Office University of Wyoming."— Presentation transcript:

1 Climate Change Impacts & Resource Management Stephen T. Gray Water Resources Data System WY State Climate Office University of Wyoming

2 The Scientific Consensus The earth as a whole is getting warmer (>99 in 100 chance)* –Approximately 1°F over past 100 years Most of this warming is very likely (9 in 10) caused by human activities Warming will very likely (9 in 10) continue for centuries to come *EPA 2006 and IPCC 2005, 2007

3 How do we know the earth is warmer? Measured by thermometers and satellite observations Hansen et al. 2006, PNAS Brohan et al. 2006, JGR

4 1932 Boulder Glacier Agassiz Glacier 1913 “The place we used to call Glacier National Park”

5 1932 1988 Boulder Glacier Agassiz Glacier 19131998 “The place we used to call Glacier National Park”

6 Observed Biological Responses

7 The Scientific Consensus Multiple lines of evidence show that the earth’s climate is changing –Instrumental observations –Observations of physical and biological systems Rate and magnitude of changes unsurpassed in (at least) the last 2000 years Spatial extent of changes unsurpassed for many 1000’s of years IPCC 2005, 2007

8 Temperature increase and other climatic changes will continue for many centuries to come IPCC 2007

9 The “Greenhouse Effect”

10 Ice cores and other archives give us information on past climate and CO 2

11

12 Orbital changes and the amount of solar radiation reaching Earth’s surface

13 Trumps other climate drivers

14 CO 2 etc. GLOBAL CLIMATE Earth’s Orbit & Tilt Dust Aerosols Ash Solar Output

15 CO 2 GLOBAL CLIMATE Earth’s Orbit & Tilt Dust Aerosols Ash Solar Output

16 Ecosystem Management in the Western US Regional Impacts:

17 Predictions for future precipitation trends -Small increases possible by end of 21 st century -Predictions within the range of variability over the past 1,000 years

18 Predictions for future climate in the Central Rocky Mountain Region Based on regionalized output from seven leading climate models Source: Natl. Acad. Sciences temp change vs. 1951-1980 mean All assessments agree — the West will be WARMER! 2 to 4 °C (3.6 to 7.2 °F) within our lifetimes

19 Small Warming, Big Changes Small increases in regional temperature would have major consequences for the West’s natural resources, even in the absence of major precipitation change

20 Warming = Perpetual Drought? Source: Hoerling and Eischeid - SW Hydrology, 2007 No significant change In precipitation plus 1.4 °C temp. increase No significant change In precipitation plus 2.8 °C temp. increase Small increases in temperature lead to increased evaporation and decreased water yield to streams Calculated Palmer Drought Severity Index Values

21 2007: Melt-out Comes 4 to 8 Weeks Early

22 Rain vs. Snow Rain is likely to run off immediately rather than soaking into the soil Rain may not be as effective as snow for recharging groundwater supplies Shifting towards more rain will likely intensify late-summer droughts Switching from snow to rain may have significant consequences for Western ecosystems

23 The West’s Desert Climate Our #1 Vulnerability

24 Average Annual Precipitation (inches) Source: NRCS http://www.ncgc.nrcs.usda.gov/products/datasets/climate/data/index.html Wyoming Average Annual Precipitation: 1961-1990

25 Wyoming: Areas with < 16” Annual Precipitation 71% of Wyoming averages less than 16” of precipitation each year

26 Western Regional Climate STATE RankAnn PPT Nevada110.68” Arizona213.13 Utah313.90 New Mexico414.93 Wyoming516.84 Colorado718.55 National Average 37.74

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28 TNC Invasives Project

29 Challenges to Management Communities in transition Cycles of rapid change Novel associations Exotic species

30 Conclusions Wyoming and the West are extremely vulnerable to all types of climate change, natural and otherwise

31 Conclusions Wyoming and the West are extremely vulnerable to all types of climate change, natural and otherwise The West will be drier Less water overall Potential for major changes in seasonal climate

32 Conclusions Wyoming and the West are extremely vulnerable to all types of climate change, natural and otherwise The West will be drier Less water overall Potential for major changes in seasonal climate Many factors will impact natural resources in the West Climate will interact with land-use change, land-cover change, fire, etc.

33 And now the good news… We know enough to start acting TODAY Adaptation is not dependant on causation

34 Thanks!

35 Contact Information: –Steve Gray –Water Resources Data System –307-766-6651 –stateclim@wrds.uwyo.edu


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