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Climate change is likely to impact erosion rates, the magnitude and frequency of extreme rainfall/mass wasting events, and the accumulation of sediment in coastal areas. However, long-term rates of erosion and sediment delivery to coastal systems are poorly constrained and there is limited understanding of the relative effects of climate change versus land-use change on these processes. Furthermore, existing instrumental and historical observations are inadequate for constraining the frequency of extreme events and evaluating the potential for changes in the magnitude and frequency of these events through time

Project

Climate change is shifting the hydrodynamics and temperature of both the Great Lakes and their tributary rivers.  Both hydrology and temperature may play potent roles in mediating the magnitude of watershed nutrient load and their fate upon reaching the lake.  Tributary hydrology reflects the source of water (groundwater vs. surface runoff) and seasonal timing of discharge, while tributary temperature determines the density difference between river and lake water.  Similarly, mixing patterns in these massive lakes strongly influence whether tributary loads remain near the shore or become diluted in the open water, while the thermal profile determines whether inflowing river water is trapped at the surface, sinks to the bottom, or stays at an intermediate depth.  These physical interactions are critical for understanding the ecological impact of tributary loads, and how it is mediated by climate change

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A reconnaissance study distinguishes coastal areas of the northeastern U.S. (approx. Virginia to Maine) that will experience an inundation-dominated response to sea-level rise from those that will respond dynamically due to physical and bio-physical sedimentation and erosion processes. Areas that will be dominated by inundation include urban regions of intense development and/or coastal engineering, as well as bedrock coasts. Areas that will respond dynamically include beaches, unconsolidated cliffs, barrier islands, and wetlands. Distinguishing which processes are relevant to sea-level rise impacts in these areas aids prioritization of scientific research and decision support efforts. Also see Dr. Robert Thieler's A Research and Decision Support Framework to Evaluate Sea-level Rise Impacts in the Northeastern U.S. Tools and Products Sea Level Rise Viewer https://coast.noaa.gov/digitalcoast/tools/slr

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Our project focused on anticipated effects of 21st century climate change on winter severity, snowpack, and lake ice across the Great Lakes Basin and the response of wildlife populations, namely white-tailed deer and dabbling ducks. Winter conditions have changed substantially since the mid-20th century, with rising temperatures, declining lake ice cover, and increased lake-effect snowfall. Nonetheless, due coarse resolution, poor lake representation, and insufficient treatment of lake-effect processes in global climate models, basinwide climate change projections remain uncertain. Changing winter conditions may greatly alter wildlife behavior and survival rates. The primary wintertime stressors for deer are air chill and snow depth, with extreme winters triggering population declines. Snow/ice cover limit foraging by waterfowl, thereby regulating the timing/intensity of migration and their distributions during non-breeding season

Project

We improved downscaling of general circulation model (GCM) data for climate change impacts assessments in the Lake Champlain Basin as part of the VT Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR).  This effort investigated the potential for using high-resolution topographic data to further downscale existing bias-corrected and statistically downscaled GCM simulations of temperature and precipitation. We found large changes in several impact variables of relevance to the region, including hot days, cold days, maple syrup production, and cooling degree days. This project evaluated local projected changes in climate across, as well as drives high-resolution hydrologic and ecological models for, the Lake Champlain Basin

Project

Using Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 5 (CMIP5) and CMIP3 data, we are developing a range of projections for the Eastern U.S.  We are also developing extreme event projections for stakeholder-relevant metrics (e.g., days over 90 °F, days below 32 °F, and days with over 1 inch of precipitation) based on CMIP5 models and North American Regional Climate Change Assessment Program (NARCCAP) dynamical downscaling.  We are also evaluating the performance of these models over historical time periods. Current research thrusts include emphasis on extreme heat stress (heat plus humidity) events and the relationship between extreme minimum temperatures and Southern Pine Beetle range expansion in the Northeast U.S.   We are finding that small changes in average conditions are associate with large changes in the frequency and intensity of extreme events

Project

Historical climate data for the Midwestern U.S. show substantial regional variability in the occurrence of extreme rainfall events.  Climate projections for the region based on both statistically downscaled General Circulation Models and Regional Climate Models show significant inter-model variability in the magnitude and frequency of extreme rainfall events.  As a result, these climate projections cannot be used alone to adaptively manage water resources in a changing climate.  We believe that storm transposition provides an effective way to evaluate the vulnerability from extreme rainfall and flooding. We have reconstructed the 2008 storm that caused catastrophic damage across parts of south-central Iowa and Wisconsin.  We are currently using an existing hydrodynamic model of the Yahara Lakes (http://infosyahara.org/) to estimate the extent of damage that would have occurred had the storm been centered over the lakes

Project

The one-dimensional Simultaneous Heat and Water (SHAW) model was used to simulate two continuous 29-year periods representing historical (1970-1999) and future (2040-2069) climate conditions in southern Wisconsin, based on downscaled GCM data from the North American Regional Climate Change Assessment Program (NARCCAP). Modeling showed that warmer winter and spring temperatures lead to a decrease in runoff and a commensurate increase in recharge. Additional modeling with the frost portion of the model disabled confirmed the importance of soil frost formation to the results. These results held across different climate models and a wide range of soil types. Groundwater and stream baseflows are critical to many water resource issues (e.g., water supply, wastewater discharge permitting,  fisheries, groundwater flooding). In the midwestern U.S

Project

This research investigates forecast skill in predicting the onset and severity of drought.  One of the unique features of NECASC research agenda is the active engagement of major a number of water supply utilities and an evaluation of how climate informed short-term stream flow forecasts and longer-range climate change forecasts influence the water supply systems.  We have engaged with the cities of Boston, New York, Providence, Philadelphia, and Baltimore to explore how operational policies that consider climate change can help them prepare for the future conditions that may be different than in the past, particularly in terms of variability.   In one case, a project, including an evaluation of seasonal-scale hydrologic forecasts for the east coast, has been advised by ongoing discussions with the New York City Department of Environmental Protection, the organization responsible for providing the city's drinking water. This has been performed with conjunction of CCRUN

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