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Category: Climate Change

Southern Plains Climate Hub Helps Land Managers Build Resilience to Climate Variability

 

Wind-devastated farmland in Kansas during the Dust Bowl.
Wind-devastated farmland in Kansas during the Dust Bowl.

The U.S. Southern Plains states have always been known for their wild weather. Stories of the volatile climate of this region abound. Whether you’re talking about Pecos Bill roping a tornado in Texas, Dorothy being blown away by a twister to the Land of Oz, or the Dust Bowl in Oklahoma where “the wind comes sweeping down the plains,” all three of the Southern Plains states have a well-deserved reputation for extreme weather events. Never has this been more on display than in 2015. At the beginning of this year, the states of Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas had suffered through four long years of an extreme drought greater even than those that ravaged the region during the Dust Bowl of the 1930’s. This extreme weather cost agriculture in the region well over $20 billion and put an incredible strain on the available water supplies of numerous communities. Then, in what seemed like the blink of an eye, in a repeat of what has happened so many times in the past, the extreme drought on the Southern Plains was finally broken by extreme rainfall. Read more »

Forest Service Funds Landmark Climate Change Study

Workers replace a culvert with a larger one to accommodate higher water flows on the Colville National Forest (Photo Credit: USFS).

Workers replace a culvert with a larger one to accommodate higher water flows on the Colville National Forest (Photo Credit: USFS).

Preparing for the effects of climate change, the U.S. Forest Service has taken the lead in a new report that highlights actions taken by federal agencies to adapt to a changing climate.

“Some federal agen­cies are making good progress in climate change adaptation,” said University of Washington scientist and lead author Jessica Halofsky. “Most agencies have broad plans that describe approaches and priorities for climate change in general … but on-the-ground projects have been implemented slowly across the country.” Read more »

Helping Farmers Adapt to a Changing Climate through Regional Vulnerability Assessments

Jun. 6, 2014, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Agricultural Research Service (ARS) supervisory plant physiologist Dr. Jerry Hatfield discuss gathering information on climate changes and impacts.

Jun. 6, 2014, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Agricultural Research Service (ARS) supervisory plant physiologist Dr. Jerry Hatfield discuss gathering information on climate changes and impacts.

Just over a year after the establishment of the USDA Climate Hubs, we are keeping our promise of “developing the next generation of climate solutions” through regional vulnerability assessments. By October 2015, eight regional vulnerability assessments will be available on the USDA Climate Hubs website. Read more »

Responding to Oak Wilt and Climate Change on the Menominee Nation Forest

Standing in a disturbed patch of forest, Menominee forester Jeff Grignon looks around and explains, “My role is to regenerate the forest, maintain the forest, create diversity, and look toward the future.” This task is becoming increasingly challenging as growing forest health issues intersect with additional stressors brought about by climate change in the forests of the Menominee Nation and elsewhere.

As a leader in forestry and natural resource conservation, USDA has a long history of working with tribes to address their management issues and concerns. Climate change is an active part of that discussion, and has been increasing through development of the new USDA Regional Climate Hubs. The network of Hubs deliver science-based knowledge, practical information, and program support to help natural resource managers, producers, and landowners make climate-informed decisions and then implement those decisions. Read more »

USDA/Microsoft “Innovation Challenge” Offers $60K in Prizes to Software Developers

Farmers have long looked to the clouds for signs of relief, but a new competition launched by USDA and Microsoft will tap the Internet cloud to help farmers and our food systems to adapt to climate change. The “Innovation Challenge” is asking software developers to create applications that will use more than 100 years of USDA data to explore how our food system can achieve better food resiliency.

Climate change will likely affect every aspect of the food system—whether it’s the ability to grow food, the reliability of food transportation and food safety efforts, or the dynamics of international trade in agricultural goods. Even so, we don’t yet fully know how to anticipate and mitigate any negative changes. Read more »

The Climate Hubs Tool Shed – An Inventory of Relevant Tools to Help Land Managers Respond to Climate Variability

Climate Hubs Tool Shed screenshot

Users can search using keywords, user-friendly categories, or a combination of variables via the advanced search feature. (Click to enlarge)

Producers want tools that can help implement adaptation strategies to reduce climate-related pressures and ensure the quality of production. They also need information about the effects of climate change on production systems. These range from management of labor resources in specialty crop production, to market demand for nursery crops, to marketing of locally grown produce. The Climate Hubs Tool Shed can be used to develop innovative management systems that increase profitability and product quality across all systems.

Launched in early 2014, USDA’s Regional Climate Hubs were established to deliver science-based knowledge, practical information, and program support to farmers, ranchers, forest landowners, and resource managers. To this end, the Hubs are excited to announce the release of the Climate Hubs Tool Shed. The Tool Shed is an online, searchable database of tools (data-driven, interactive websites and mobile apps) that can assist land managers, land owners, and extension professionals in adapting working lands to the impacts of climate change. Users can search using keywords, user-friendly categories, or a combination of variables via the advanced search feature. While many of these tools were developed specifically to adapt to climate variability, several were developed to aid in mitigating the indirect effects of climate change such as drought, pests, wildfire, and extreme weather. Read more »