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Posts tagged: Climate Change

A Year Round Fire Season?

A pine burns with snow on the ground on the Boise National Forest (Photo Credit: US Forest Service)

A pine burns with snow on the ground on the Boise National Forest (Photo Credit: US Forest Service)

There was a time when fire season for Western states meant only certain months out of the year. Not so long ago the U.S. Forest Service considered it primarily a summer problem with a few regions breaking the trend in early spring and late fall.

But climate change, according to most wildland fire experts, has turned fire season into a year-round issue.

What used to slow down fire season was winter—a long and cold time of year with lots of snow that killed off many invasive or destructive pests and filled rivers and reservoirs with ample water to supply the needs of millions living in the West. Read more »

Midwest and Northern Forests Regional Climate Hubs Vulnerability Assessment Published

Betts, L. (2011). Iowa Field Erosion (pp. Topsoil as well as farm fertilizers and other potential pollutants run off unprotected farm fields when heavy rains occur.). Iowa: NRCS.

Betts, L. (2011). Iowa Field Erosion (pp. Topsoil as well as farm fertilizers and other potential pollutants run off unprotected farm fields when heavy rains occur.). Iowa: NRCS.

USDA’s Regional Climate Hubs were established in February of 2014 to deliver science-based knowledge, practical information, and program support to farmers, ranchers, forest landowners, and resource managers to support climate-informed decision-making in light of the increased risks and vulnerabilities associated with a changing climate. As part of their function, the Hubs were tasked with providing periodic regional assessments of risk and vulnerability to production sectors and rural economies, building on material provided under the National Climate Assessment conducted through the United States Global Change Research Program (USGCRP).  With the publication of this Vulnerability Assessment, the Midwest and Northern Forests Regional Climate Hubs are providing their stakeholders with an introduction to the region, regional sensitivities and adaptation strategies for working lands, a greenhouse gas emissions profile with mitigation opportunities, and an overview of how partner USDA agencies are being affected by a changing climate. This vulnerability assessment is an important first step in establishing a baseline “snapshot” of current climate vulnerabilities, and provides region-specific adaptation and mitigation strategies to increase the resilience of working lands in the region. Read more »

Cold Water Can be Used as a Climate Shield to Protect Native Aquatic Species

Maps showing the study area and locations of stream temperature data that were contributed by hundreds of people working for more than 80 natural resource agencies to develop high-resolution stream temperature scenarios that encompass 450,000 kilometers of stream. (Courtesy of U.S. Forest Service Rocky Mountain Research Station)

Maps showing the study area and locations of stream temperature data that were contributed by hundreds of people working for more than 80 natural resource agencies to develop high-resolution stream temperature scenarios that encompass 450,000 kilometers of stream. (Courtesy of U.S. Forest Service Rocky Mountain Research Station)

Climate change and species invasions raise fears that iconic cold-water species like trout, salmon, and char could be extirpated from most of their ranges this century.

A new study by researchers at the U.S. Forest Service Rocky Mountain Research Station published in Global Change Biology shows that high-resolution stream temperature scenarios can be used to forecast which streams will serve as climate refuges for native cutthroat and bull trout later this century and that many streams are forecast to be too cold to be invaded by non-native species. Read more »

How Trees Help Fight Climate Change – All Over the World

A Limber Pine on the near barren landscape of the Craters of the Moon National Monument & Preserve stands as a strong symbol of the power of one tree. (Photo by Robert Westover, U.S. Forest Service)

A Limber Pine on the near barren landscape of the Craters of the Moon National Monument & Preserve stands as a strong symbol of the power of one tree. (Photo by Robert Westover, U.S. Forest Service)

The first in a series of blogs honoring the United Nation’s 2015 International Day of Forests

Did you know that carbon dioxide, or CO2, is one of the main contributors to the greenhouse gases that are causing climate change?

And, did you know that one averaged-size tree – say a 30-footer – can store hundreds of pounds of CO2 over its lifetime and even longer if it’s used in building materials for a house or furniture? Read more »

At the Agricultural Outlook Forum, Prognosticators Peer Ahead to 2060

Tom Brown, Economist, Rocky Mountain Research Station's Social and Economic Values Group, Forest Service, USDA, Fort Collins, CO. outlined climate models during his panel presentation at the 2015 Agricultural Outlook Forum. USDA photo by Lance Cheung.

Tom Brown, Economist, Rocky Mountain Research Station's Social and Economic Values Group, Forest Service, USDA, Fort Collins, CO. outlined climate models during his panel presentation at the 2015 Agricultural Outlook Forum. USDA photo by Lance Cheung.

No one can say with certainty what the American climate will be like 45 years from now, but looking at climate models discussed at the Agricultural Outlook Forum last week in suburban Washington, D.C., the best prediction is that the American southwest will be drier, the northwest may get more rain and less snow, and the entire nation will see more climate variability.  Weather swings, and their effect on production, will be more pronounced.  Some areas may get too much rain in the winter and spring and not enough in the summer and fall.  That’s a guess, but it’s an educated one.

A few things are fairly certain:  There will be more people, and with a highly diffused American water management system, it will be a challenge to adapt. People will take priority over crops like rice.  Every drop of water will count. It will be necessary for areas accustomed to getting much of their water from melting snowpack to store more water in reservoirs, and water now discarded as “dirty” or “grey” can no longer be flushed away. Read more »

Puerto Rico: Collaborating for the Future of Our Climate

Agriculture Deputy Secretary Krysta Harden listens to  farmer José Delgado describe his initiative to introduce locally-grown sorghum feed to Puerto Rico on Jan. 25, 2015. USDA photo by Julie Wright.

Agriculture Deputy Secretary Krysta Harden listens to farmer José Delgado describe his initiative to introduce locally-grown sorghum feed to Puerto Rico on Jan. 25, 2015. USDA photo by Julie Wright.

Climate change has been deemed one of the greatest challenges facing agriculture, world food security, and human development in the 21st century.  It’s a challenge that USDA is working to mitigate while also making sure that our farmers, ranchers and forest landowners are ready to adapt to the challenges it will pose. Just last year we announced the creation of several regional climate hubs — information centers that help to connect a community of farmers, ranchers, researchers and partners committed to finding viable climate solutions. One area that’s been identified as particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change is the Caribbean.

On a recent trip to Puerto Rico, I had the pleasure of visiting the USDA Caribbean Climate Sub Hub in Rio Piedras where I was joined by the Puerto Rico Secretary of Agriculture Hon. Myrna Comas and the Puerto Rico Secretary of Natural Resources Hon. Carmen Guerrero. I was truly impressed by the collaboration taking place at the Caribbean Climate Sub Hub at every level – federal, state, and local. While at the hub, I saw some examples of products, from musical instruments to home decor, made from native wood grown on the island. By working collaboratively with the hub, local producers are able to harvest native woods in a way that both supports forest health and creates new market opportunities. Read more »