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The University of Massachusetts Amherst

Enhancing the Reliability and Usability of Climate Change Information for Wildlife Action Plans in the Northeastern United States

Overview

The northeastern U.S. is home to a wide range of terrestrial and aquatic habitats, leading to a variety of interactions occurring between species and climate on multiple scales. Therefore, the most effective strategy to produce and deliver scientific climate information to resource managers is to align the scales of climate projections with the scales of resource management actions. While available downscaled climate data provides information at very fine resolutions (4-6 km), its usability in helping management decisions and its reliability in capturing various regional weather and climate metrics remain unclear.

The goal of this project is for researchers to collaborate with State Wildlife Action Plan coordinators to produce reliable and usable climate change projections at spatial and temporal scales relevant for informing mangement decisions. This work will be done for the 13 states in the Northeast Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies region. The project team will also compare existing downscaled datasets to highlight their strengths and weaknesses in capturing relevant climate variables, especially extreme precipitation, in the Northeast. This project will use data from the latest generation of climate models to produce climate change projections spanning the 21st century for a diverse set of ecologically-relevant variables (such as soil moisture). The resulting information will be presented in the form of graphics, descriptive summaries, and case studies and will also include guidance on how the projections should be interpreted and used in impact assessments.

While the proposed research is designed to inform fish and wildlife management in the Northeast, the scientific output from this project should be a useful resource for other researchers, modelers, and practitioners in the Northeast to understand species’ vulnerabilities at various scales. This work will also help regional resource managers determine how to best plan, implement, and evaluate temperature, precipitation and other climate variables, as well as related uncertainties, on a finer scale to inform the conservation and management of fish and wildlife species.