9th Annual Northwest Climate Conference

Working Together to Build a Resilient Northwest

October 9-11, 2018


The Effect of Biofuels on Biodiversity and Soil Organic Carbon Stabilization in Midwest Agricultural Fields

Jennifer Butt (Boise State University), Megan Kelly-Slatten, Marie-Anne de Graaff   

Atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) concentrations are increasing due to anthropogenic activities. Increased CO2 contributes to climate change; thus, it is important to understand by which mechanisms we can reduce atmospheric CO2 levels. Perennial grass species utilized as biomass feedstocks are being studied to test the sustainability of biofuel production while minimizing negative effects on the environment. In a field site in northeastern Illinois, USA there are agricultural plots containing switchgrass (Panicum virgatum) and big bluestem (Andropogon gerardii) at various levels of genotypic diversity with and without nitrogen fertilization. Using soil cores, microarthropods and nematodes will be isolated and identified to compare differences in diversity below-ground at each treatment level. Soil will also be fractionated and using mass spectrometry, the isotopic ratio of carbon sequestered into the soil will give information into the stability of soil organic carbon. The effects of perennial grass genotypic diversity on both soil carbon stabilization and below-ground biodiversity will aid in understanding how these biofuels impact the environment as we further the effort to mitigate climate change.

Perceptions, Knowledge, and Behaviors of the Yakima River Basin Agricultural Community: Adapting to Changing Water Availability Linked to Climate Change in the Pacific Northwest

Sarah Cox (University of Virginia), Kelly Ewing, Pamela McMullin-Messier   

The Pacific Northwest is faced with the worsening effects of climate change - spring rainfall is increasingly replacing winter snowfall, which limits the accumulation of snowpack in the Cascades. Irrigators east of the mountains rely on this slow-melting snowpack to irrigate crops throughout the hot, dry summers. Without the vital melt, summer droughts are becoming far more frequent and severe in the Yakima River Basin --- having the potential to devastate the unprepared region in the future. As water becomes increasingly scarce, advocates for environmental reclamation, agriculture, and fish migration must continuously vie for the right to use it. Though the goals of the various stakeholders often seem antithetical, an agreement by all parties on regional water usage must be reached to effectively mitigate the harsh effects of drought in the region. A deep understanding of stakeholder viewpoints is a crucial step towards reaching such an agreement. However, little is known about individual irrigators’ perceptions towards water issues, knowledge about water policy, or personal adaptive actions to increase resilience to climate change. To fill this gap, we developed a 34 question survey that was distributed to ~85 farm and ranch owners in the Yakima River Basin. Questions in the survey examine respondents’ perceptions of drought and water policy in the basin area and their motivations for/against adopting water efficient practices. A paper version of the survey was distributed at local farmers markets in conjunction with an online Qualtrics version publicized via social media outreach. To inform the research project on the framing of water issues in the news, a media content analysis of two local newspapers - the Daily Record and the Yakima Herald - was conducted through NVivo software to examine the dialogue surrounding climate change and drought. Through our analyses, we found that while water conservation practices are widespread among individual irrigators in the Yakima Basin, perceptions about climate change and drought vary widely, and knowledge of water policy in the area is lacking. Community outreach and education on local water issues should be considered in the future as an avenue for increasing understanding.

Narrowing the Gene Pool: Assessing Resistance to Nutrient and Drought Stress in Crop Sunflowers

Hanan Farah (University of Minnesota-Twin Cities) & Jennifer Dechaine   

As climate change continues to beget uncertainty regarding soil conditions and water supply, it is imperative to identify more stress resistant crop varieties that require fewer resources. This study assessed soil nutrient and drought stress resistance in crop sunflower (Helianthus annuus) lines grown in the field. Using plant stem diameter as a predictor of seed yield, we compared how well 49 genetically different sunflower lines were able to maintain stem diameter under stressful (unfertilized and dry) versus their respective control (fertilized and wet) treatments. Lines that maintained stem diameter under stress significantly better than predicted were considered stress resistant. We identified 17 – 18 lines that were resistant to each stress treatment. Out of the 10 most resistant lines in each treatment, two lines were resistant to both nutrient and drought stress. The identification of these sunflower lines is a first step toward elucidating the genetic basis of stress resistance in sunflower and may contribute to the future development of more stress resistant crop sunflower germplasm.

Climate Change Attitudes and Adaptations Among Pacific Northwest Farmers: The Case of the Dry Farming Collaborative

Melissa Parks (Oregon State University ) & Gabrielle Roesch-McNally   

Farmers in the Pacific Northwest must adapt to climate change at the local level in order to ensure the sustainability of their farms. This study explored attitudes and beliefs about climate change among farmers in the Pacific Northwest who are a part of the Willamette Valley Dry Farming collaborative led by Oregon State University Extension, in partnership with the USDA Northwest Climate Hub. Dry farming is a strategy put in place to address water right curtailments during peak production in fruit/vegetable production. It may also provide benefits as a climate change adaptation strategy. The Dry Farming Collaborative is a space created to share research findings and develop a more participatory research effort with OSU Extension and farmers. This participatory approach could be used in other research settings to improve stakeholder engagement with and participation in research. Farmer attitudes and beliefs about climate change have been found to influence their subsequent adaptations and responses, thus this research examines trends in farmers’ attitudes, beliefs and current adaptations, as well common discourses around adaptive strategies such as maintaining soil health and enhancing farm resilience. Benefits and barriers to implementing dry farming practices in particular and experiences in the participatory collaborative are also explored, while assessing differences between farmers who produce different crops for multiple markets and have variable farming histories. These results can help to inform regional climate adaptation tools, resources, and outreach for farmers. Additionally, lessons learned regarding designing and implementing participatory research with farmers on their adaptation strategies will be shared with researchers and others interested in implementing similar kinds of projects.

Integrated Adaptive Scenarios for Agriculture: Synergies and Tradeoffs

Kirti Rajagopalan (Washington State University), Jennifer Adam, Keyvan Malek, Mingliang Liu, Claudio Stockle, Michael Brady   

A wide variety of factors can drive adaptation of the agricultural production sector in response to climate change. Warming and increased growing season length can lead to adoption of newer plant varieties as well as increases in double cropping systems. Changes in expectations of drought frequency or economic factors could lead to adoption of new technology (such as irrigation technology or water trading systems) or crop choices with a view of reducing farm-level risk, and these choices can result in unintended system wide effects. These are all examples of producer adaptation decisions made with a long-term (multiple decades) view. In addition, producers respond to short-term (current year) shocks - such as drought events - through management strategies that include deficit irrigation, fallowing, nutrient management, and engaging in water trading. The effects of these short- and long-term decisions are not independent, and can drive or be driven by the other. For example, investment in new irrigation systems (long-term) can be driven by expectations of short-term crop productivity losses in drought years. Similarly, the capacity to manage for short-term shocks will depend on crop type and variety as well as adopted irrigation technologies.

Our overarching objective is to understand the synergies and tradeoffs that exist when combining three potential long-term adaptation strategies and two short-term adaptation strategies, with a view of understanding the synergies and tradeoffs. We apply the integrated crop-hydrology modeling framework VIC-CropSyst, along with the water management module Yakima RiverWare to address these questions over our test area, the Yakima River basin. We consider adoption of a) more efficient irrigation technologies, slower growing crop varieties, and increased prevalence of double cropping systems as long-term adaptation strategies; and b) fallowing and deficit irrigation as short-term responses to droughts. We evaluate the individual and combined effect of these strategies on agricultural production. Preliminary results indicate that long-term adaptation strategies impact short-run adaptive capacities to drought shocks. The strategies are complementary under certain situations and results in tradeoffs in other situations, and we characterize these differences.

Decision Tree Modeling of Agricultural Insurance Loss in Relationship to Climate for the Palouse Region of the Pacific Northwest

Erich Seamon (University of Idaho), Paul E. Gessler, John Abatzoglou, Philip Mote   

There has been considerable work done to estimate the effects of a changing climate on agricultural production (Long et al, 2006, Miao et al, 2015), with particular work around the impact of climate conditions on commodity pricing and yields (Schlenker and Roberts, 2009, Deschenes and Greenstone, 2007, McCarl, Villavicencio and Wu, 2008, Kucharik and Serbin, 2008). Extending this approach, we compared time lagged climate relationships, using University of Idaho gridMET data (Abatzoglou, 2013), to USDA agricultural insurance loss claims for the 26 county Palouse region of the Inland Pacific Northwest (IPNW), from 2001 to 2015. USDA county level insurance claims, attributed to drought, were aggregated on a seasonal water year basis (October – June) for a set of select commodities (wheat, barley, and apples), and compared to all combinations of the previous years’ monthly individual climate variables. Loss data was transformed using a cube root function for normality. The set of months with the highest climate variable correlation with insurance loss (for each commodity), for each county, were selected and assembled with the associated insurance loss data (i.e. for precipitation within Whitman county, WA, three months previous to September - June/July/Aug/Sept – had the highest correlation with seasonal mean Whitman wheat/drought loss claims). Using this time lagged trend analysis approach for drought based wheat insurance claims for 2001-2015, for all counties, yielded R2 values of .44 for potential evapotranspiration, .35 for max temperature, and .47 for precipitation. There was considerable spatial variation with regards to time lagged correlational relationships: For example, for potential evapotranspiration, counties above the Snake river tending to the highest correlation with June/July/Aug/Sept month spans, while below the Snake river had the highest correlations for earlier seasonal months (Feb/Mar/Apr). Using these time-associated correlated variables, we constructed a regional regression based decision tree to examine the conditional relationships between climate and the transformed wheat/drought insurance loss. Our results indicated that potential evapotranspiration and precipitation were dominant factors in claim values ($).

Investigating Stomatal Density as a Drought Resistant Trait in Crop Sunflowers

Bridget Smith (Central Washington University) & Jennifer Dechaine   

With climate change, abiotic stressors that are predicted to decrease crop yields, such as drought, are becoming more intense and frequent. Understanding how agriculturally significant crops respond to drought stress and what traits confer resistance can provide valuable tools for plant breeders to use in cultivating lines that can retain yield quality and quantity under increased water scarcity. Common sunflower, Helianthus annuus (H. annuus), is grown and used worldwide for its oil and confectionary seeds. As a globally significant crop, it is important to study the effects of drought stress and identify traits that confer drought resistance in this species. Stomata are sights of gas exchange found on the epidermis of plants. A reduction in stomata has been shown to reduce water loss during drought stress in some plant species. Location of stomata may also be of significance as stomata on the underside of the leaf lose less water to transpiration than stomata on the top of the leaf. This study examined stomatal density in leaves collected from five crop sunflower lines grown under drought and watered treatments in the field. Leaf impressions were created using nail polish and stomatal density was recorded under a microscope. Average stomatal density did not differ significantly between treatments. Consistent with previous findings, stomatal density was higher on the underside of the leaves versus the top of the leaves. We also observed variation in stomatal density across lines by treatment, suggesting that there is genetic variation in how leaf stomatal density responds to drought stress in crop sunflowers. These results suggest that drought influences stomatal density in sunflower and this response has a genetic basis.

Effects of Nutrient Stress on Leaf Nitrogen Content in Crop Sunflowers

Mira Smith (South Puget Sound Community College) & Jennifer Dechaine   

Crop sunflowers (Helianthus annuus) are a major export for many countries. Sunflower seed oil is used in cosmetics and food preparation, and the 2016 sunflower crop was worth nearly $470 million. In order to meet yield goals, agricultural sunflower production relies heavily on chemical fertilizers. These fertilizers are an important contributor to global climate change, because they release nitrous oxide, a greenhouse gas. It is thus imperative to work toward developing crop sunflower varieties that continue to meet yield demands while requiring less fertilizer. This study evaluated leaf nitrogen (N) in crop sunflower lines grown under nutrient stress in the field. Leaf N correlates with plant photosynthetic rate, which is an indicator of plant health and yield. Leaf N did not differ significantly between fertilized and unfertilized (nutrient stress) treatments, and, surprisingly, was not significantly correlated with leaf chlorophyll content in either environment. Crop sunflower lines were genetically variable for leaf N and exhibited some variation in how leaf N responded to nutrient stress. Future research should assess leaf N directly (instead of only chlorophyll content) on additional crop sunflower lines in order to elucidate the genetic basis of this important trait.

Agclimate.Net – Helping Share Climate Change Science with Agricultural Professionals

Sonia A. Hall (Washington State University), Brooke Saari, Gabrielle Roesch-McNally, Doug Finkelnburg, Chris Schnepf, Laurie Houston, Georgine G. Yorgey, Elizabeth Allen, Chad E. Kruger, Tara J. Zimmerman   

It is often difficult for agricultural professionals (which here includes foresters) to navigate the overwhelming and complex available climate resources. AgClimate.net was created to provide a single place to connect interested agricultural professionals with researchers and their work, mainly through the AgClimate blog. Short articles discuss climate change and agriculture research, emphasizing the implications such findings have for the blog’s primary audience: agricultural professionals working with forest owners, ranchers, farmers and other land managers. AgClimate articles include thought-provoking analyses, scientific perspectives on current issues, highlights of innovations, the researchers that develop them and the professionals that test them. We strive to show how different efforts connect, explain why readers should care about climate change, provide guidance on relevant tools and approaches, and become a model for effective outreach on climate change and agriculture. These easy-to-read articles provide links to the relevant publications, tools, or products, thereby providing access to a range of agriculture and climate science resources available in the Pacific Northwest.

We are expanding our reach through a quarterly newsletter that highlights recent articles. We also promote our articles and share other relevant news and information through social media channels. A rotation of guest authors alongside a more stable editorial and author team keep contributions diverse and relevant. Recent topics include forestry in fire-prone systems, no-till wheat production, the economics of climate change, potential novel Northwest crops under warmer temperatures, increasing crop diversity to improve resilience, biochar and soils, among others. We encourage researchers and professionals alike to engage in dialogue around their areas of expertise. Through our expanding readership we strive to foster a network of researchers and professionals that use the site to discuss climate and agriculture, stimulate innovative thinking, share expertise, and obtain feedback.

The AgClimate readership and reach continue to grow. The blog articles had over 1100 hits in 2015, almost 1340 in 2016, and almost 4000 in 2017, and our newsletter reaches almost 250 subscribers, ranging from researchers to conservation district staff to producers. As the site matures, we are focused on continuing to grow our team of authors, our readership and their interactions. Our goal during the 2018 Northwest Climate Conference is to share recent articles with researchers and managers who are interested in agriculture, and participate in relevant discussions that inform future AgClimate articles. These are part of our efforts to support sustainable, climate-smart and climate-friendly agriculture in the Pacific Northwest.


Case Studies on Building Rangeland Resilience to Climate Change in the Pacific Northwest

Sonia A. Hall (Washington State University), Tipton D. Hudson, Georgine Yorgey, Shannon Neibergs, Matt Reeves   

Rangelands represent about 21.6 million acres in the Pacific Northwest. Cow-calf operations are the primary users of this grazing resource and will have to adapt to climate change effects on rangelands. However, management directed toward current rangeland stresses which may be amplified under a changing climate—including fire risk, invasive plants, and droughts—is beneficial under every future scenario. And although climate change discussions have become highly politicized, our experience suggests that Pacific Northwest ranchers support no-regrets strategies that provide ecological and economic benefits in addition to those relating to climate change. Our goal is to foster adoption of no-regrets strategies by sharing individual success stories.

Successful ranchers are already experienced at considering economic, production, and weather risks in their decision making. They are well poised to identify and implement practices that increase resilience to climate change, while balancing the other risks they face. Forward-thinking ranchers can provide insights into their resilience management practices, enabling others to join them. Our multi-media case studies are designed to share those insights, and encourage other ranchers to consider making changes to enhance the resilience of their operations to ongoing climate change. Each case study consists of a brief video highlighting an innovative rancher and their climate-resilient practices, and a peer-reviewed written factsheet with descriptions of the rancher’s personal context and motivations; process of innovation; benefits, challenges and solutions to adopting practices. This narrative is paired with easy-to-digest sidebars providing key science findings relevant to the practices being discussed. By pairing these insights with key science findings, we also give ranchers tools to adjust these practices to their particular operational context.

A similar case-study approach focused on crop producers has been used successfully in the Pacific Northwest. Videos had received over almost 17,000 views as of mid-2018. Three case study documents published in 2016 had been viewed more than 500 times in 2017. Videos and documents have been featured at several regional conferences. As we complete the ranching series of case studies, we will also disseminate them and promote their use to provide Pacific Northwest ranchers with suggestions on how to improve their resilience to a changing climate, and tools to help them do that.

A Longitudinal Assessment of Land Cover Impacts on Urban Warming

Chao Fan (University of Idaho)   

Human-induced landscape transformation profoundly alters the surface energy balance that affects our living environment in many different levels. Of the most direct consequences is the significantly heightened temperature in urban areas due to the introduction of large quantity of dry and impervious materials in lieu of moist and pervious natural landscapes. Land cover impact on a city’s skin temperature has been well-documented through cross-sectional studies of numerous cities across the globe. While understanding the association at one point in time is essential, a systematic study of the longitudinal trend of the relationship provides an in-depth understanding of a city’s climate pattern and permits analysis of such pattern in the context of an evolving urban landscape. This study uses sequential Landsat imagery coupled with spatial statistical approaches to explore the surface temperature variability with respect to the spatiotemporal urbanization pattern in the Phoenix metropolitan area over the time period from 1991 to 2010. Spatial indicators measuring local concentration of vegetation and built-up areas are generated from annual Landsat imagery. For a given year, Landsat scenes acquired at summertime are used to derive the land surface temperature. In quantifying the landscape-temperature association in a panel setting, we employ a spatial statistical framework to evaluate the spatiotemporal variability of the surface temperatures in relation to the changing landscape patterns over the 20 years. Results from this research will shed light on future urban planning policies towards effective alleviation of the urban heat island effect, thereby reducing the risk of heat-related diseases and improving quality of life for residents in this fast-growing desert region.

Settler Indigenous Alliances Combating Fossil Fuels: A Case Study of the Shell No! Movement in the Pacific Northwest

Matthew Fuller (University of Victoria)   

Over the course of several months in 2015, communities in the Pacific Northwest organized to confront the presence of Royal Dutch Shell's Arctic drilling fleet in regional harbors. What would later be called kayaktivism involved frontline and eNGO organizers collaborating to confront the localized environmental degradation and climate justice issues resulting from any efforts by Shell to drill in the Chukchi Sea. The movement and its direct actions were often fast-moving and connected Indigenous communities at the frontlines of environmental ruination caused by these industries with local white/settler activists and organizations. The collaboration and organizing that resulted, while ultimately successful in contributing to the cessation of Shell's drilling plans, at times expressed both beautiful solidarity and ill-fated social movement building. This presentation will examine the Shell No! movement through interviews with key organizers, both Indigenous and settler, and seeks to understand what worked and what didn't work when it came to building local alliances across the Indigenous/settler divide. Though research may suggest that settler allies appear to increasingly want to center the needs and desires of frontline Indigenous communities (on their own terms) in many environmental movements, it's important to examine how well solidarity work and intersectional social movements are growing not just rhetorically but in the actions and behaviors of settler allies and their organizations. The focus here is on those articulations of solidarity during the Shell No! movement and this research seeks to explore how these alliances can be seen as expressions political ecological thought, social movement theory and the research on decolonization and Indigenous resurgence. The primary research and interviews were conducted in the year following the Shell No! movement with local Indigenous and settler organizers. The researcher was an active participant and contributor to the organizing and direct action events of the Shell No! movement in Seattle, Bellingham and Port Townsend, Washington.

Enhancing Adaptive Capacity Through a Community-Based Rangeland Monitoring System

Kyle R. Hogrefe (Oregon State University), Hannah Gosnell   

The 2014 National Climate Assessment reports that climate disruptions to livestock production in the US, including drought damage, soil erosion, habitat changes, weeds, and increased fire risk related to weather extremes, have been on the rise over the past several decades, and that, over the next 25 years, the Northwest is likely to experience water-related challenges due to drought and changing snowmelt. The report identifies the need for more climate resilient technologies and management to assist with adaptation. As such, there is growing interest in the concept of climate-smart agriculture; or practices that simultaneously improve food security and rural livelihoods, facilitate adaptation to climate change, and provide mitigation benefits. Working with diverse stakeholder groups in Wallowa County, Oregon, researchers at Oregon State University are creating a rangeland assessment and monitoring system that integrates place-based knowledge with conventional science using two computer models and a Community-Based Observing Network (CBON) to support climate-informed decision-making on US Forest Service rangelands and surrounding private lands.

We aim to improve links between science, policy, and management by leveraging the diverse perspectives of our collaboration, which includes ranchers, US Forest Service managers, members of the Nez Perce Tribe, local non-profits, and other stakeholders. Our rangeland assessment and monitoring system employs CBON methods to support the models with traditional and place-based knowledge, provides near real-time predictions of forage quality and ecological condition at a landscape scale, and then uses reports on the accuracy of its predictions to improve them. The system’s forecasts will increase local adaptive capacity by providing near-real time, 30, 60 and 90-day forage forecasts and long term predictions of ecological change in response to weather, climate, and land use, enabling climate smart decisions by ranchers and rangeland managers. We will disseminate information about the tool through local and regional networks. We report preliminary results from (1) the CBON’s efforts to collect, integrate and contextualize data related to rangeland management in Wallowa County in support of climate-smart ranching; (2) accuracy assessments of the models’ predictions forecasting forage vegetation quantity and habitat change in response to weather and land use practices; and (3) qualitative analysis of barriers to using the system to support climate-smart ranching in Wallowa County and beyond.

Large-Scale Urban Development and the Implications on Microclimates: Opportunities for Improving Thermal Comfort Through Alternative Building Designs

Joey Williams (Portland State University) & Vivek Shandas   

Warming temperatures due to climate change continue to alter the urban planning processes of cities in the Pacific Northwest. Current designs for urban development do not include considerations for changes in microclimate as a result of increases in the magnitude of high-heat events. Urban heat can be modified through well-established mechanisms of increasing albedo, vegetation, and shade, yet few studies describe how these factors vary across design alternatives, particularly for large-scale land use modifications. To address these limitations, our project examined the role of building geometry, tree canopy volume, and surface material in mediating the ambient temperature of surrounding environments. We ask, how do design alternatives vary in their relative contributions to microclimates in one large commercial development in Portland (OR). The current planning of the 14-acre United States Post Office (USPO) site in downtown provided a relevant case for examining such impacts with three design scenarios. Satellite imagery helped to create a base case model of the existing USPS site, including specification of buildings, roadways, and tree canopy. The other two design alternatives featured unique configurations and volumes of buildings and greenery. By applying the computational software suite, ENVI-Met, ambient conditions of wind and heat from the hottest Portland day of 2017 were simulated for a 24-hour period. Modeled temperature measurements were collected at 1.5 meters above ground-level across four dispersed receptors as well as over the site area. Point measurements allowed for a comparison of temperature at specific locations over the 24-hour time period, and overall area measurements allowed for comparison of the spatial patterns of temperature gain over the site at specific times. The results indicate the contrary to conventional understanding, the creation of tall buildings created cooler daytime temperatures than scenarios with extensive greenery without dense development. The differences in temperatures were presented through novel describes of thermal mass/gain, peak hour difference, and temperature changes per temporal unit. These outputs were then analyzed and presented as temperature curves and choropleth maps, which provide an effective communication platform for urban planner and city managers.

Downscaling Land-Use/Cover Change Scenarios from the Global Change Assessment Model to the Columbia River Basin

Matthew Yourek (Washington State University), Jennifer Adam, Jan Boll, Kirti Rajagopalan, Mingliang Liu   

The Columbia River Basin (CRB) of the northwestern United States and southwestern Canada is rich in natural capital that fuels the economy—from its soils that support an abundance of crop varieties, to its vast coniferous forests that provide timber and wildlife habitat, to the Columbia River that supplies irrigation water and drives hydropower production. Since agriculture and forestry are land intensive, changes in global markets will shape land use in the CRB over the coming century. Global-scale population growth, GDP growth, energy technology, and climate policy, among other factors are studied by Integrated Assessment Models (IAMs). Combinations of these factors form pathways of social and economic change that directly affect land use and land cover.

Often there is a mismatch between the spatial scales of IAMs and end-user models (e.g., climate, hydrology, earth system, and cropping systems models). The challenge is to devise a downscaling methodology to allocate land-use transitions spatially. The factors controlling land transition potential are environmental (e.g., climate and soil/landscape characteristics), social (e.g., knowledge exchange, cultural beliefs), and policy-oriented. In this research, we downscaled land-use/cover projections from the global change assessment (GCAM) from large, irregular-shaped regions to 1/16th degree grid cells using a downscaling methodology based on work by the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory with modifications. The existing methodology distributes land uses to the downscaled grids based on user-defined suitability criteria. The first modification allows for scenario testing of different degrees of irrigation rights expansion. A zero-increase scenario assumes no additional water rights will be granted over the next century so that growth in irrigated agriculture will be restricted to land currently with access to water. Another extreme scenario assumes unrestricted water rights permitting so that all cultivable land has access to irrigation water. The second modification apportions prime cropland between food and forage crops on the one hand, and biofuel crops on the other. Strong climate mitigation pathways could incentivize farmers to plant biofuel crops on their high-yielding fields. With no incentives, biofuel crops will be allocated only to marginal or non-irrigated land. The added biofuel and water rights scenarios allow an envelope of land-use/cover changes to be simulated consistent with global change scenarios.


A Water Vulnerability Assessment for the Columbia River Basin: Tools for Targeted, Community-Based Adaptation

Paris Edwards (University of Idaho)   

Extensive research efforts regarding the impacts of climate change to the Pacific Northwest and Columbia River Basin (CRB) are underway. However, climate variability, particularly in complex mountain terrain, poses significant challenges to anticipating future climate conditions and the attending impacts to water resources. Levels of certainty regarding climate variability and climate change impacts on hydrology at the regional and local scale are invariably limited. However, stakes are high as water resources are inextricably tied to functional and sustainable environmental and social systems across the basin. Vulnerability is a concept that cross-cuts environmental and human dimensions of climate change, yet these spheres have traditionally been studied separately and isolated within different disciplines (Füssel et al. 2006). Significant social and biophysical data are readily available and, when used together, may help paint a clearer picture of the spatial variability of vulnerability and adaptive capacity to climate change-induced water resources loss.

There is currently a literature gap regarding spatial variability of vulnerability to water resource loss at the subbasin and community scales within the CRB. We present preliminary results on our effort to create a hotspot map of overlapping, relative social and physical vulnerability to water resource loss across the Basin (Ostrom, 2009). Map creation includes the development of social and physical water vulnerability indices using existing datasets of best available science, interviews with Basin water managers, and Principal Component Analysis (PCA). We draw from principles of hydro-climatology, geography, and social science, and we use a Socio-Ecological Systems (SES) framework to consider the spatially explicit, embedded and reciprocal relationship between natural resources and human societies. This work seeks to highlight the value of place-based socio-environmental system dynamics to tell a more complete story of the opportunities and challenges facing managers and communities within the basin.

Mitigation of Climate Impacts by Carbon Pricing: Costs, Benefits and Possibilities

Linda Engle & Nancy Basinger (Citizen's Climate Lobby-Idaho Chapter), Peter Joseph, Steve Ghan, Louise Stonington   

This isn't just an environmental issue. Climate change poses serious risks to our economy. If we fail to address these threats, it will weaken economic growth and increase costs for the federal government.

In 1981 President Reagan signed an executive order requiring that costs and benefits be assessed for all new regulations. This laid the ground work for scientists and economists to work together on the social cost of carbon. They use macro-economic projections, climate models and monetary estimates of impacts which are aggregated into a range of values exemplifying the benefits of emissions reductions. This range of costs includes avoided damages from extreme weather, sea level rise and health impacts, but neglects any military expenses of access to Middle East oil or security of bases. These costs to society have both geographic as well as generational implications. As we experience and learn more about the effects climate change the models have become more sophisticated but an exact quantification has inherit limitations and remains difficult.

The northwest states are experiencing the effects of climate change; this talk explains policies that use the price of carbon at the corporate, state, and federal levels to mitigate those effects. We describe the advantages and disadvantages of the most expedient proposals, carbon pricing legislation that is currently in place in other countries, and the rationale behind the pricing currently being used by the Trump administration.

While it is true that scientists agree our climate is changing and this change is anthropogenic, business people, investors, corporations and the public are still looking for equitable revenue neutral solutions. The purpose of this talk is to inform attendees about the recommendations, results and possibilities proposed by a variety of renowned economists that mitigate the worst effects of climate change.

Some people say that this mitigation is too expensive, but we now know that as our planet continues to warm, doing nothing will cost us far more. Our lowest cost option is to adapt to the impacts that we cannot avoid and to decrease emissions using a bi-partisan market-based tool to prevent the most severe impacts.1

1 Adapted from Senator Patty Murray’s opening remarks, Senate Budget Committee hearing; The Costs of Inaction, Economic and Budgetary Consequences of Climate Change, July 29, 2014


A Multi-Century Perspective of Fire-Climate Interactions Across the Salmon-Challis National Forest, Idaho

Grant L. Harley (University of Idaho), Emily K. Heyerdahl, John Sloan, Doug Basford   

Dendroecology is the science that dates tree rings to their exact calendar year of formation to study processes that influence forest ecology. Reconstruction of past fire regimes is a core application of dendroecology, linking fire history to population dynamics and climate effects on tree growth and survivorship. Since the early 20th century when dendrochronologists recognized that tree rings retained fire scars and hence a record of past fires, they have conducted studies worldwide to reconstruct [1] the historical range and variability of fire regimes (e.g. frequency, severity, seasonality, spatial extent), [2] the influence of fire regimes on forest structure and ecosystem dynamics, and [3] the top (bottom)-down (up) drivers of fire (e.g. climate, topography, fuel) that operate at a range of temporal and spatial scales. We used a systematic sampling design to collect fire-scarred tree sections across broad gradients of elevation (1500–2700 m) and forest types (e.g. ponderosa pine/grassland, dry Douglass-fir/ponderosa pine, Douglass-fir/lodgepole pine, subalpine fir, whitebark pine) on the Salmon-Challis National Forest to characterize the historical fire regimes over the past several centuries. We then related temporal and spatial fire occurrence to local/regional climate variability (e.g. drought, precipitation) as well as broad scale ocean-atmosphere oscillations (e.g. Pacific Decadal Oscillation). Data generated will be used to inform land management practices, in addition to better understandings of fire-climate interactions in the face of current and impending climate change across the Northwest.

The NW Climate Toolbox’s US Water Watcher

Katherine Hegewisch & John Abatzoglou (University of Idaho)   

The U.S. Drought Monitor (USDM) maps are highly recognizable summaries of the U.S.'s drought impacts which directly inform decision making through determining financial aid for drought relief. However, there are many different flavors of drought composed of shortfalls in supply, additions in demand, precipitation phase and frequency, and the degree which such conditions persist. The USDM provides a single, semi-objective, integrated measure of drought, that may not fully convey the magnitude and flavor of drought for a region or provide warning signs of an impending drought.

To help provide a more comprehensive picture of water resource monitoring, we have developed a new web-based tool called the Drought Dashboard (or Water Monitor). This interface provides users with a number of dynamic and relatively high-spatial resolution maps of drought flavors updated regularly and designed to span hydrologic, agricultural, and ecological impacts over the contiguous United States. Metrics include gridded data of modeled climate and hydrology incorporating ground and satellite observations as well as in-situ observations of measured streamflow, ground water and reservoir levels. Utilizing the same color palette and range of percentiles (or index values) as the USDM, this tool allows users to visualize up to four different flavors of drought at a time alongside the USDM classification. The US Water Watcher fills a drought monitoring niche by allowing for straightforward comparison of numerous flavors of relative water availability in a common interface compatible with USDM lingo.

Reconstructing Fire History in the Teanaway Community Forest, Washington

Sophie Johnson (Willamette University), Emily Deardorff, Luke Telfer, Megan Walsh   

In 2017, the Jolly Mountain Fire burned a total of 14,895 hectares over the course of three months, causing widespread health concerns and warranting the evacuation of the Teanaway Community Forest and parts of surrounding communities. Intensifying wildfire activity in Central Washington in recent years due to warming temperatures has increasingly occupied the public consciousness as more homeowners in this region feel the effects from burns. Large wildfires such as this demonstrate the importance of understanding historical burn patterns of our forested land, especially how those areas have responded to human fire suppression activities and climate change. The purpose of this research was to reconstruct the fire history of the Teanaway Community Forest and to better understand the causes of fire regime changes over time. This was constructed using macroscopic charcoal analysis of a sediment core from Camp Lake, located roughly in the center of the Teanaway Community Forest. Two short sediment cores and one long core were taken and analyzed at one-centimeter intervals for macroscopic charcoal content, charcoal morphotypes, magnetic susceptibility, and organic content using loss-on-ignition. The results show a recent charcoal peak, from the Jolly Mountain Fire, followed by a period of fire suppression, likely spanning much of the last century. Prior to this period, there are semi-regular intervals of high charcoal peaks, indicating intense fires, with smaller or no peaks between them, indicating smaller intensity fires. This pattern suggests that fuel built up in the smaller fire periods, resulting in the risk of large and intense wildfires. Following this pattern, there is a risk of a severe wildfire occurring in this region soon because there have been small to no charcoal peaks in about the top 50 centimeters of the core. This risk is compounded by the effects of climate change, which is causing increased fuel dryness and temperatures and a decrease in humidity, resulting in a longer fire season. Understanding the danger that fuel build up and climate change pose is vital for forest managers. By studying the long-term fire behavior in this area, those involved in forest management can better mitigate fire risks in this region by implementing tree thinning, controlled burns, and public outreach into their management plans.

Quantifying the Sensitivity of Forest Productivity to Annual Variation in Snowpack in the Northern Rocky Mountains

Dayne Lubenow (Idaho State University) & Keith Reinhardt   

Due to changes in climate over the last century, mountain forests in the Intermountain West have experienced increased variability in snowpack paired with increases in temperatures. Warming temperatures have been shown to create drought simply by preventing the accumulation of snowpack and shifting the snow ablation date to earlier in the summer, altering ecosystem functioning. While this allows for a longer growing season, it provides an increased opportunity for drought stress, drought induced mortality, and increases in wildfire risk due to low moisture content late in the summer. However, how tightly coupled forest processes are with variation in snowpack depth and timing is still generally unknown. In the study, I quantify relationships between annual variations of snowpack and summertime forest greenness (a proxy for primary productivity) in Rocky Mountain forests at different elevations and consisting of different species compositions. I will do this by comparing summer Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) data to maximum winter snowpack data, every year for 25 years. The primary objectives of this study are to: 1) quantify annual variations in snowpack-NDVI relationships over the past 25 years; and 2) evaluate how relationships are different among elevation zones, forest type, geographic regions, and aspect of slope. The aim of this study is to facilitate predictions on how Rocky Mountain forest ecosystem sensitivities will respond to future fluctuations in climate.

From Extremes to Ex-Streams: Ecological Drought Adaptation Synthesis Project

Rachel M. Gregg & Jessi Kershner (EcoAdapt)   

Climate change will increase the risk of ecological drought with projected changes likely to result in cascading impacts on species, habitats, and ecosystem services, including tree mortality, increases in wildfires, and altered water and nutrient cycling processes. These impacts will exacerbate current resource management challenges such as conflicts over water resources, land use and degradation, invasive species, maintaining agricultural yields, and managing wildfires. Resource managers and conservation planners are addressing this challenge by revising current plans and practices with increased attention on potential climate impacts on natural resources, communities, and socioeconomic values. Through this project, our team has evaluated and synthesized the scientific body of research on ecological drought adaptation options available to and in use by resource managers in the Northwest. Knowing which adaptation actions can be best implemented at different scales and in various ecosystems will help managers identify and leverage funding opportunities, create new and enhance existing partnerships, and communicate and coordinate with other agencies and organizations to prioritize on-the-ground ecological drought responses.

Assessing Method Repeatability for Charcoal-Based Lake Sediment Core Paleofire Reconstruction

Luke Telfer (Boise State University), Sophie Johnson, Emily Deardorff, & Megan Walsh   

Along with anthropogenic climate change, fire suppression policies of the past century have contributed to drastic changes in the fire regimes of many Pacific Northwest forests. As more effective wildfire strategies are developed, forest managers are beginning to utilize charcoal-based paleofire reconstructions from lake sediment cores to better understand past fire regimes. Unfortunately, there are few studies testing the reliability and repeatability of such methods. The purpose of this research is to determine whether paleofire reconstructions can be reproduced by performing the same methods on different cores obtained from a single lake. As part of an overall fire reconstruction study at Camp Lake in Washington’s Teanaway Community Forest we 1) extracted two single-drive cores less than one meter in length (short cores) approximately five meters apart; 2) processed them independently using standard methods for magnetic susceptibility, loss-on-ignition, and macroscopic charcoal analysis; and 3) determined the degree of correlation between the two cores using multiple regression analysis and visual interpretation. Magnetic susceptibility readings and loss-on-ignition results were consistent between the two cores and, despite a low direct correlation between macroscopic charcoal concentrations (r2 = 0.2701), the overall charcoal trend was visually consistent and the locations of 90th percentile peaks were highly correlated (r2 = 0.9720). These findings suggest that charcoal-based lake sediment core reconstructions are repeatable, providing higher-confidence utilization for forest management purposes.

Applying Cloud Based Computing and Emerging Remote Sensing Technologies to Inform Vegetation Management Decisions

Monica Vermillion (Boise State University), Josh Enterkine, Lucas Spaete, & Nancy Glenn   

Semi-aid ecosystems are vulnerable to increasing fire cycles due to invasive species such as cheatgrass. The rapidly-changing fire regime places additional demands on land management planning. Vegetation maps from remote sensing can play a critical role in identifying at-risk areas and areas of high conservation value. However, accurate high resolution vegetation maps of large areas can be difficult to create and update with traditional data processing techniques. Emerging remote sensing platforms (Sentinel-2) when combined with cloud-based computing (Google Earth Engine) can be used to create high resolution maps of dominant species over large areas of land. Since the process is cloud-based it allows for large amounts of data to be computed in minimal time.

For this project we collected field data on the Mountain Home Air Force Base and Range Complex of signature plots , 20 m plots of homogenous vegetation. The field data is used as training data for the ensemble machine-learning model, Random Forests, to classify Sentinel-2 imagery. Sentinel-2 provides high temporal and spatial imagery with multiple Red-Edge bands at 20 m resolution, making it ideal for remote sensing of vegetation. It also allows for multiple vegetation indices at high temporal and spatial resolutions. This process is readily-updated with additional data as it becomes available, enabling rapid updating of vegetation maps. Since vegetation is only one factor in ecological site response, climate and topography can also be added to the Random Forests model to create a more cohesive picture of the study area.

Once created, a large area vegetation map can be used to identify potential areas that are at-risk of disturbance or invasive species, areas that are likely resilient, and areas that are in transition or are vulnerable. These maps can help with land management techniques and in future year’s asses the treatment effectiveness.


Projections of Urban Growth in the American West to 2100 Based on Different Scenarios of Population Growth and Density

Jodi Brandt (Boise State University), Michail Fragkias, Christian Sprague, Jenna Narducci, Jen Schneider, Jillian Moroney, & Shawn Benner   

Many areas of the western US are experiencing rapid population growth and urbanization as people move to the region for a high quality of life. Urbanization poses complex challenges for sustainable management and our ability to adapt to climate change. The Boise Metropolitan Area, Idaho is one of the fastest growing areas in the U.S., and is a useful case study to explore how different scenarios of population growth and population density will manifest in terms of landscape change. In this paper, we develop a scenario-based spatially-explicit model of urban land use change and project physical urban growth up to year 2100 in the Boise metropolitan area. According to remotely sensed data, between 2001 and 2011, this metro area lost approximately 5% of its total agricultural land, mainly due to rapid urbanization and this trend is expected to continue in subsequent decades. To accomplish our goal we utilize spatial datasets, spatially-explicit modeling techniques, and a density/population growth scenario development. We extend standard land-use change models to incorporate scenario planning and an integrated iterative procedure that serves to update various variables of the model across time. This allows for flexible long-term scenario planning where certain land characteristics are anticipated to change (i.e. population levels or urban density) and there is interest in the impact of these supposed changes. We identify distinct trajectories for Boise’s urban futures, with a significant variation of the total agricultural land consumed. We created several publicly-available resources for the larger community, including a white paper for interested stakeholders, a story map for the general public, and raw data for integration of land use projections with other data sources for environmental management and climate change adaptation planning.

An Online Toolbox for Near Real-Time Analysis of Hydrologic States and Forecasts Across the Pacific Northwest

Oriana Chegwidden (University of Washington), Bart Nijssen, Katherine Hegewisch, & John Abatzoglou   

The Climate Toolbox is a public web-based platform for visualizing hydrological, meteorological, agricultural and fire information for the Pacific Northwest (PNW) in near real time. In this presentation, we will focus on the hydrologic information in the toolbox and showcase examples of how users can interact with it. The hydrologic component of the toolbox ingests near-real time meteorological observations and produces states of soil moisture, snow water equivalent, and runoff. The Toolbox simulates hydrology using the Variable Infiltration Capacity model at the 1/16th degree (~6km scale) forced by meteorological observations from the gridMet dataset. The resulting hydrologic states have a latency of about one day, allowing users to visualize the hydrologic conditions in the PNW in response to recent weather events. The Toolbox also allows for comparison of hydrologic states throughout the previous year to assess how the region has changed. Further, the Toolbox integrates medium and seasonal meteorological forecasts from the National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center. The Toolbox displays medium-range hydrologic forecasts on a monthly basis using the National Centers for Environmental Prediction Climate Forecast System model version 2 and seasonal forecasts using the North American Multi-Model Ensemble (NMME). These medium and long-range forecasts provide a test-bed for water managers interested in future hydrologic states in the PNW.

The Influence of Climate-Induced Flow Regime Changes on Critical Salmonid Habitat Availability and Connectivity

Jenna Duffin (University of Idaho), Daniele Tonina, & Elowyn Yager   

Salmon conservation in the Pacific Northwest is becoming increasingly more important as climate change alters the temperature and hydrology of rivers. Currently, most river restoration is aimed at improving habitat in degraded rivers under current climate conditions, but basin-scale changes in temperature and hydrology also need to be incorporated into decision-making to create and maintain resilient ecosystems. Hydraulic models and habitat suitability curves provide information on existing habitat availability, quality, and connectivity, however these analyses could be expanded to address potential changes in river hydraulics due to climate change and would allow managers to optimize habitat restoration in a changing climate. Here, we assessed Chinook salmon habitat on the Lemhi River in Idaho. Depth and velocity outputs from a 2D hydraulic model are used in conjunction with locally-created habitat suitability curves to evaluate the availability and quality of habitat for multiple Chinook salmon life stages. To assess the variability of available habitat, connectivity between habitat patches necessary for different life stages is calculated with a proximity index. We then assess habitat characteristics under different potential climate change-driven hydrologic scenarios and identify thermally restrictive stream reaches by investigating the current temperatures in reaches that may become more limiting with climate change. These results can be used to facilitate river restoration and resource management decisions to help maximize habitat quality and resiliency.

Potential for Streamflow Reconstructions Using Species- and Site-Specific Tree Rings Models

Meghan Foard (University of Idaho), Andrew Nelson, & Grant L. Harley   

Surface water is among the most instrumental and vulnerable resources in the Northwest United States (NW). Recent observations show that overall water quantity is declining in streams across the region, while extreme flooding events occur more frequently. Historical streamflow models inform probabilities of extreme flow events (flood or drought) by describing frequency and duration of past events. There are numerous examples of tree-rings being utilized to reconstruct streamflow in the NW. These models confirm that tree-rings are highly accurate at predicting streamflow, however there are many nuances that limit their applicability through time and space. For example, most models predict streamflow from hydrologically altered rivers (e.g. dammed, channelized) which may hinder our ability to predict natural prehistoric flow. They also have a tendency to over/under-predict extreme flow events. Moreover, they may neglect to capture the changing relationships between tree-growth and streamflow over time and space. To address these limitations, we utilized national archives to investigate the relationships between the growth of multiple coniferous species and free-flowing streams across the NW using novel species-and site-specific streamflow models – a term we coined selective tree-ring models. Correlation function analysis and regression modeling were used to evaluate the strengths and directions of the flow-growth relationships. Species with significant relationships in the same direction were identified as strong candidates for selective models. Temporal and spatial patterns of these relationships were examined using running correlations and inverse distance weighting interpolation, respectively. Our early results indicate that (1) species adapted to extreme climates (e.g. hot-dry, cold-wet) exhibit the most consistent relationships across space, (2) these relationships weaken in locations with mild climatic variability, and (3) some species appear better at predicting high flow events, while others – extreme drought. These findings indicate that selective models may outperform traditional models when reconstructing distinctive aspects of streamflow.

Additional Methods for Conducting Year-Round, in-Situ Stream Temperature Monitoring

Kip Killebrew (Slippery Rock University) & Kyra Freeman   

Continuous temperature monitoring in mountainous streams provides data to assess thermal impacts on aquatic organisms in response to climate variability. Temperature sensors are often deployed in the summer months when streamflow is low and stream temperature is high. Winter sensor deployment is challenged by site access and high winter flows potentially washing away the sensor. However, year-round monitoring is crucial to understanding aquatic ecosystem health. While the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has created a guideline on how to best collect accurate, year-round stream temperature (EPA, 2014), there are still some disadvantages to the suggested installation methods. The most common installation methods use either underwater epoxy or cable-ties to mount sensors to an in-stream structure (rebar, boulder, roots, etc.). While the epoxy method has a high recovery rate, the main chemical component of underwater epoxies can be highly toxic to sensitive aquatic species. With this poster, we present a year-round temperature monitoring method that adheres to the standards of the EPA guidelines, but with a new installation technique that improves recovery rates, does not use material toxic to aquatic life, and decreases the installation time.

Following the EPA standards, we conducted a case study in the Stillaguamish River basin in northwest Washington. We used Onset TidbiT v2 Temp Sensor with a 0.2oC accuracy cable tied within a solar shield made from PVC tubing (Appendix A; EPA, 2014). A Nemo© waterproof cordless hammer drill was used with a diamond drill bit to bore into the downstream side of an in-stream boulder. The solar shield sensor housing was mounted to the bolder with 23/8-inch anchor expansion bolts. Sensors were left for 6-14 months and 10 sites of the 32 deployed were selected for initial retrieval, including all of the high gradient sites (>3%). Our initial recovery rate was 90%, with only one high-gradient sensor being lost. These preliminary results show an improvement of recovery from the epoxy mounting method for high gradient streams (70-78%; Isaak et al., 2013). Initial temperature sensor recovery results from 10 sites show an improved sensor retention rate than that shown in the literature.

Consequence of the 1976/1977 Climate Shift on Fostering Sustainable Use of Water Resources

Margaret Matter (Oregon Department of Agriculture)   

Developing effective methods and strategies to advance sustainable water use depend materially on understanding projections of future climate and hydrologic conditions as well as historic changes and causes of the changes. Understanding causes and effects of historic hydro-climate variations is necessary because water management, operations and infrastructure design are largely based on the mistaken assumption that hydrology and climate vary within a range that remains relatively constant, or stationary, over time. Western states are particularly vulnerable since the states' systems of water rights and administration are also based on assuming stationary hydrology and climate over time. Forty or more years of data and scientific understanding have revealed that hydrologic and climate exhibit broader and varying ranges of variability caused by sources of nonstationarity, such as alternating periods of persistent hydroclimatic conditions (i.e., cyclic variations), step-changes (e.g., abrupt changes; climate shifts or regime shifts), and long-term temperature trends (e.g., anthropogenic climate change).

This analysis focuses on effects of the 1976-1977 climate shift, a relatively abrupt, or step, change in the Pacific Ocean and atmospheric conditions that coincided with the unusually strong El Niño event. Since water resources in the Western U.S. is influenced by El Niño/Southern Oscillation (ENSO), it is reasonable to assume, and results of other studies have confirmed, that changes in ENSO would in turn be evident in water resources.

Long-term streamflow and weather data were examined for stations in four regions: (a) the Upper Grande Ronde basin; (b) Lower John Day River basin; (c) Harney Basin; and (d) Lincoln County, located in northeastern, north central, south central/southeastern, and along the mid-Pacific Coast in Oregon, respectively. Data records were analyzed in two ways: (a) for long-term trends over the period of record; and (b) data records were divided in two parts at 1976/1977.

Principal results from comparing changes prior to 1977, and 1977 to the present include significant decreases in total annual streamflow volumes since the early 1900's, with substantive decreases occurring in winter months when irrigation is not occurring. Precipitation has shifted timing primarily into autumn and winter months, and total annual precipitation and snow water equivalent have decreased significantly.

Initial Results of Modeling Climate Induced Flow Variability on the Umatilla River

Scott O'Daniel (Umatilla Tribes) & Bethy Rogers-Pachico   

The rivers of NE Oregon and SE Washington provide essential foods and fiber to the community of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation (Quaempts et al. 2018). To better understand the current and anticipated flows in the Umatilla River, Oregon, we use the SWAT model to generate flow estimates for RCP 4.5 and 8.5, at three gauges along the upper Umatilla River, Oregon. Gridded climate observations are used to calibrate the model (PRISM) and represent future scenarios (WorldClim via MarkSim). The spatial domain of the watersheds used in this model average 91.5 km2 but range from 0.8 km2 to 284.3 km2. We analyze changes in the frequency and intensity of peak and low flow events and compare these to historic data. We explore these results and identify related issues for management of fisheries and water quality. Our interim results suggest the potential loss of perennial flow along the mainstem Umatilla River and combined low dissolved oxygen with a high range of diel water temperatures, in some reaches, may further limit native aquatic organisms.

The Required Flow Volumes to Move a Grain Size May Increase with Bed Slope Due to Boulder Emergence Through the Flow's Surface

Heidi E. J. Smith (University of Idaho) & Elowyn M. Yager   

Shifts in precipitation patterns due to climate change can result in abnormally high flows in rivers, and thus sediment transported. Understanding how sediment fluxes (volumes of sediment transported) are related to flow stage in rivers is imperative for management efforts such as increasing the likelihood of success in restoring rivers or minimizing loss of property though urbanized reaches. However, current sediment equations poorly predict sediment fluxes in large part due to misidentifying the flows that cause the start of sediment motion. A paradoxical component of the onset of sediment motion is that as channel slope increases, higher flow volume is required to move the same grain size (an increase in the critical Shields stress), despite the downstream component of weight increasing with slope. Elevated critical Shields stress with slope has been linked to the increase in large roughness (e.g boulders or log) density relative to the flow depth (relative roughness), because of the increase in flow resistance. We conducted a series flume experiments that measured the average flow depth and near-bed velocity during flow conditions that caused the motion of a mobile test grain through a range of slopes. We used two bed configurations, one with and without boulders, to find if the Shield stress increased with no boulders present and with boulders separately. Contrary to current research that has shown a general increase in critical Shields stress through all slopes, we observed an increase with slope in only two circumstances (1) when boulders were added, and (2) when the boulder tops began to emerge from the flow. Otherwise, Shield stresses remained roughly constant. We explored to cause of our observed Shield stress trends to be due to (1) a shift of flow fields around the boulders as they emerge with slope, (2) the change in near-bed velocities that determined the fluid forces upon the test grain, and (3) boulder partitioning, or the decrease of fluid forces applied to the mobile test grain due to forces borne by boulders. These results further our understanding of boulder-related mechanisms that may affect the flows that cause the start of sediment motion and can be used to further our understanding of sediment volumes transported in rivers.


Miocene Rewilding: A Paleontological Approach to Terrestrial Ecosystem Adaptation

Kyle Chamberlain (Resilient Land Care)   

Climate change will create conditions which will steer plant communities toward resembling those of the Miocene and earlier geologic periods, when temperatures and atmospheric carbon were similar to those projected for the future.

This anachronistic tendency will have a strong influence on the forests and grasslands of Northwest North America, presenting opportunities for stewarding ecological resilience. This could resemble something like assisted migration, as in conservation biology. Or it could look more like pioneering horticulture or silvaculture, but with special attention given to climate change and emerging ecological niches. There isn’t necessarily a conflict between these two approaches.

A major concern with regard to climate change is the breakdown of niches which support the species making up the bulk of our biomass. The species comprising the bulk of the biomass in a plant community could be called macro-flora. Instability of our macro-flora would disproportionately challenge our survival. Ephemeral forbs, annual crops, and livestock can be quickly shifted. But it may require thoughtful intervention to insure some kind of perennial macro-vegetation, providing a trophic basis for ecosystems to adjust on their own.

Fortunately, there are broad global and continental patterns in macro-vegetation, along a gradient of temperature and North-South geography. There are also patterns observable in paleontology and paleobotany, reflecting climate change over time. Conceptualizing these patterns has the potential to aid land managers at many scales.

Presented are concepts to guide macro-flora adaptation in Inland Northwestern North America, focusing on the resilience of forest and rangeland, and how key taxa are likely to respond to emerging ecological niches.

Advancing Methods to Obtain Reflectance of Light Absorbing Particles in Snow Using a Hyperspectral Imaging Microscope Spectrometer (HIMS)

Celia Laporta (Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania), Susan Kaspari, & Melanie Swick   

In recent years, there has been an increase in melt rates of glaciers and snowpack. This increase has been largely attributed to rising temperatures; however, the presence of light absorbing particles (LAP) on snow and glacier surfaces also contributes to increased melt. LAP, which include black carbon, mineral dust, algae, and other organic matter, darken the surface allowing more heat absorption and melt. The relative abundances of LAP can be determined geochemically, however characterization of the optical properties of LAP are important to determine the contribution of the different types of LAP to melt. In order to better characterize LAP, a new method using a Hyperspectral Imaging Microscope Spectrometer (HIMS) was recently developed (Dal Farra et al., 2018). In this study, we further developed this method by (1) comparing the spectra of mineral dust measured in 2D and 3D samples and (2) developing a method to image organic LAP, particularly snow algae. Our results show that 2D and 3D spectral reflectance of particles are similar, however 2D particles have lowered measured reflectance due to having only one surface for light to reflect. The optimal method for imaging organics appeared to be the optically thick filtered samples, although this method is challenging because images must be taken before the filter dries.

Light Absorbing Particles (LAP) in Snow on Mt. Rainier: Variations with Elevation and LAP Composition

Riley Keister (Western Washington University), Susan Kaspari, & Celia LaPorta   

In the Cascade Mountains of Washington State, one of the impacts of a warming climate is glacial retreat. While rising temperatures and decreasing snowfall in these areas play roles in glacier retreat, the deposition of light absorbing particles (LAP) also contributes. LAP on snow include elemental carbon (EC, also referred to as black carbon), organic carbon (OC) and dust. EC is formed due to the incomplete combustion of fossil and biofuels; dust sources include arid regions and local outcrops; and OC has a wide range of sources. Lap can be transported by wind currents and deposited globally, while some types of OC such as snow algae are formed on the snow. The deposition of these LAP on snow/ice reduces the albedo of the snow/ice, increasing the amount of solar energy that is absorbed, which in turn, accelerates snow and ice melt. The focus of this study was LAP deposition in the seasonal snowpack at Mt. Rainier, Washington, and the objectives of this research was to determine: 1. Abundances of OC, EC, and mineral dust, 2. Differences in LAP abundance with elevation change, and 3. Differences in abundance of organic carbon in samples that visibly had high snow algae concentrations as compared to samples with no visible snow algae. In June 2017 surface snow samples were collected between 1700-2327 meters to investigate changes in LAP abundance with elevation. In June 2018 surface snow samples were taken at an elevation of 1723 m, with samples chosen based on color and visible red snow algae content. Darker samples were targeted for collection, as they contain higher concentrations of LAP. The OC/EC split, mineral dust abundance, and gravimetric particulate load of the samples were measured to determine how LAP varies with elevation and snow algae content. Our results show that the relative abundance of LAP varies with elevation, with higher elevations dominated by dust, whereas at lower elevations OC is a major contributor. Mineral dust dominates everywhere based on samples extracted in 2017. Snow samples with high snow algae content have a higher proportion of OC content than snow samples without visible snow algae.

Ensembles and Stormwater: Quantifying Uncertainties in Changes in Extreme Statistics

David Rupp (Oregon State University), Guillaume Mauger, & Linnia Hawkins   

Extreme precipitation statistics are a commonly used in infrastructure design and planning. The statistics are often estimated for precipitation event return frequencies (e.g., > 100 years) that are much longer than the length of the available data record (e.g., 30 years). This practice of extrapolating to return frequencies near and beyond the record length is problematic because the uncertainties in such estimates are very poorly defined. The most straightforward way to cope with the problem is to increase the data record length. While this is typically not an option for observations, better characterization of the uncertainty can be achieved with numerical models.

In this study, the regional climate model HadRM3P was used to simulate precipitation for the water years 1987-2015 and 2032-2060, with the latter period having greenhouse gas concentrations consistent with Representative Concentration Pathway 8.5. For each year, the model was run 100 times, resulting in 2,900 simulations per 29-year period. Extreme statistics were calculated for the 2-, 10-, 25-, 100-, and 500-year return frequencies in annual maximum daily precipitation. We used the Generalized Extreme Value (GEV) distribution to estimate the extreme statistics and a Monte Carlo resampling approach to estimate the uncertainties in those statistics. The large ensemble of simulations allowed us to characterize the GEV distribution out to very rare events, as represented in the simulations. Without a large ensemble, this would not be possible.

In King County WA, for example, the 25-, 100-, and 500-year return frequency of daily precipitation increased by 7, 11, and 15%, respectively, between the historical and future period, based on the full ensemble (2,900 years). However, roughly 100 years or more of record (per period) were required to detect a non-zero change in the 25- and 100-yr return frequency at a 95% confidence level, while even 100 years was insufficient to detect a change in the 500-yr return frequency.

In this work we show that the large ensemble can be used to distinguish systematic changes in climate from those that are simply due to random chance. However, such large ensembles are not available for most regional climate model output. Elsewhere, changes in extreme statistics must be evaluated carefully to ensure that the results are statistically robust. For example, our results can be used to identify the sample size needed to sufficiently constrain the uncertainty in the estimate of projected change.


Forecasting post-fire sagebrush recovery given interactions between sagebrush, exotic annual grasses, and perennial grasses under different climate scenarios

Cara Applestein (Boise State University), Matthew Germino, & Trevor Caughlin   

Widespread exotic annual grass invasion of western sage-steppe communities has resulted in increased fire size and frequency, which threatens post-fire sagebrush reestablishment. Regeneration of landscapes post-fire involves competition between sagebrush, exotic annual grass, and perennial bunchgrasses (which are often seeded to prevent invasion/reinvasion of exotic annual grass), and these interactions are moderated by seasonal weather patterns. Climate change may shift future weather patterns, particularly winter precipitation and growing season temperature, in ways that have the potential to alter the species interactions in post-fire systems. Previous regional models forecasting sagebrush or exotic annual grass distributions under climate change scenarios have failed to consider species interactions, which could potentially lead to inaccurate predictions. This study will utilize a number of long term post-fire datasets on sagebrush recruitment and functional group recovery (including military legacy data and long term experimental USGS data) to examine, through hierarchal Bayesian modeling, how weather variability moderates the interactions between perennial, exotic grass, and sagebrush establishment at landscape scales and how future climate scenarios might impact the balance between perennial grasses, annual grasses, and sagebrush recruitment. Results will help guide fire rehabilitation management decisions on how to buffer for future climate change and species interaction effects.

The American Pika and Climate Change: Revisiting Sites to Determine Changes in Pika Occupancy at Different Elevations

Julia Brabo Santos (California State University-East Bay) & Kristina Ernest   

American Pikas are susceptible to high temperatures and potentially other effects of climate change. Pikas live in dynamic metapopulations, with subpopulations at different sites experiencing local extinctions and recolonizations. Apart from this natural dynamic, populations have been disappearing from lower elevation sites in some areas of the western U.S. To test whether pikas have been disappearing from low elevation sites along the eastern slopes of the Cascade Range in Washington State, we resurveyed 25 talus (rocky) sites that had previously been surveyed in 2012. Sites were located along three west-to-east transects dropping in elevation from where pikas are well established to lower elevations where they do not occur. At each site, we conducted an occupancy survey during summer 2018. This consisted of 15-minute focal observations looking and listening for pikas, a transect survey walking across the site looking for this year’s pika haypiles and latrines. Of the 18 sites that previously had pikas, 12 still were still occupied but 6 were now vacant. All seven of the previously vacant sites were still vacant (none of these sites had been colonized by pikas). The sites from which pikas disappeared were at mid to higher elevations rather than the lowest elevations, so climate change was not clearly implicated. However, the trend of losing local populations over a six-year period is not explained by normal metapopulation dynamics. This research was part of a long-term study to monitor pika populations and assess how climate change is affecting them.

Drought, Bark Beetles, and Their Interactions: Causes of Widespread Tree Mortality in the Western US

Jeffrey A. Hicke (University of Idaho), William R. L. Anderegg, Craig D. Allen, & Nathan L. Stephenson   

Widespread tree mortality caused by drought and insects has occurred in recent decades across the western United States, with more trees killed than by wildfires. Both disturbance agents were often present during die-off events, suggesting drought could be a predictor for future tree die-off in a warming climate. However, a better understanding of the relative roles of drought and insects is needed to predict future tree mortality more confidently given projected climate change. In this talk we review recent die-off events to assess the contribution of drought, bark beetles, and their interactions. Sudden aspen decline and oak and juniper mortality that occurred recently were primarily associated with drought, with biotic agents playing a limited role. Some events such as piñon pine mortality in the early 2000s were a combination of severe drought and bark beetles. Other events associated with outbreaks of aggressive bark beetle species such as mountain pine beetle may be initiated by drought but continued after the drought ended. Finally, outbreaks of other bark beetle species are likely facilitated by drought, but other contributing factors seem to be more important. Therefore, although both disturbance agents have been involved in multiple tree die-off events, each agent can act alone to kill trees as well, suggesting that drought alone is not a sufficient predictor for future tree mortality.

Assessing Impacts of Submerging and Emerging Shorelines on Benthic Species

Linda E. Kruger (USDA Forest Service), Adelaide C. Johnson, James Noel, & David Gregovich   

We approximated future coastal benthic species for shorelines undergoing both sea level rise and relative sea level lowering (often post-glacial, termed isostatic rebound) where subsistence-based, southeast Alaska Natives reside. From six community centers, we examined shoreline reaches by merging relevant portions of the NOAA ShoreZone database (utilizing bioband length segments as accounting units) with near shore bathymetry and measures of mean global sea level rise along with local global positioning system (GPS) measures of tectonic shift and isostatic rebound. We are especially interested in food security.

Introducing the Recovering America's Wildlife Act: A Game-changing Opportunity to Safeguard Fish, Wildlife, and Their Habitats

Davia M. Palmeri (Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife)   

Natural systems across the nation face dramatic challenges; highest among those is climate change. The Recovering America’s Wildlife Act, currently under consideration by U.S. Congress, has the potential to provide a substantial and unprecedented level of financial investment to restore, recover, and conserve wildlife communities and their habitats. Even in today’s politically partisan environment, this effort is getting bipartisan support in Congress. The intent of the legislation is full implementation of the State Wildlife Action Plans. In 2015, all of these 56 state & territorial comprehensive wildlife conservation plans identified climate change as a threat to the long-term sustainability of fish and wildlife populations under their jurisdiction. We invite you to consider what could be achieved in natural resources climate adaptation with an influx of $1.3 billion in conservation dollars across the nation! This poster will offer an overview of this $1.3 billion opportunity, introduce state and national efforts to pass the legislation, and describe opportunities to get involved.

Fine-Scale Vegetation Monitoring in Shrublands with Unpiloted Aerial Systems

Anna Roser (Boise State University) & Pat Clark   

Dryland ecosystems offer critical resources such as carbon storage and rangeland forage, however, they are threatened by invasive species and a changing climate, which can result in altered species composition and creates greater risk of habitat loss. Improved practices to monitor shrubland environments will allow for more effective land management. Landscape level analyses can be made more accurate through the upscaling of fine-scale remotely sensed data. In this study, data were collected in the field, and from images from a small, unpiloted aerial system (UAS), in Reynolds Creek Experimental Watershed (RCEW), Idaho. These data will be used to refine methods for UAS shrubland monitoring and facilitate steps towards upscaling to landscape level analyses. We are particularly interested in species diversity, composition, and structure. The incorporation of terrestrial laser scanning (TLS, or ground based lidar), will provide a high precision comparison and validation to field collected data and the structure-from-motion photogrammetry (SfM) derived from UAS photos. This project is a collaboration between Boise State University and USDA Agricultural Research Service, but is applicable to all user groups who study, manage or rely on dryland ecosystems.

Genetic Based Selection of Trees by Mountain Pine Beetle During a Climate-Driven Outbreak in a High Elevation Forest

Diana Six (University of Montana) & Jeffrey Hicke   

In western North America, whitebark pine, a high elevation keystone species, and lodgepole pine, a widespread ecologically and economically important tree, have experienced extensive mortality in recent climate-driven outbreaks of the mountain pine beetle. However, even in stands experiencing high levels of mortality, some mature trees have survived. We hypothesized that the outbreak acted as a natural selection event, removing trees most susceptible to the beetle and potentially also those least adapted to warmer drier conditions. To test this hypothesis, we used inter-simple sequence repeats to compare the genetic profiles of two sets of trees, survivors (mature, living trees) and general population (trees just under the diameter preferred by the beetles and expected to approximate the genetic structure of each tree species at the site without beetle selection). We also compared resin chemistry for these same trees and modeled their growth responses in relation to climate over recent decades. For both whitebark and lodgepole pine, survivors and general population trees mostly segregated independently indicating a genetic basis for survivorship. Exceptions were a few general population trees that segregated with survivors in proportions reflecting that of survivors to beetle-killed trees. Additionally, survivors and most general population trees were significantly different in their chemical profiles, particularly for compounds used in host tree location and pheromone production by the beetle. Growth responses are being analyzed and will be discussed. Overall, our results indicate that during outbreaks, beetle choice may result in strong natural selection for trees with greater resistance to attack. Our findings suggest that survivorship is genetically based and, thus, heritable. Therefore, retaining survivors after outbreaks to act as primary seed sources could act to promote adaptation. Further research will be needed to characterize the actual mechanism(s) and genetic basis of resistance.

Forecasting Phenological Responses of American Kestrels to Climate Change: An Individual-Based Modeling Approach

Jason M. Winiarski (Boise State University)   

Understanding the mechanisms underlying shifts in phenology is needed to accurately predict responses of birds to a changing climate and inform management strategies. To date, most studies of temperate-breeding birds have shown that warmer spring temperatures and advancing green-up are the primary cues driving earlier nesting, but alternative explanations remain largely understudied. We propose that warming winters could result in earlier nesting via 1) carry-over effects from remaining on or near breeding grounds in the winter, and 2) reduced constraints to early season nesting that allow seasonal declines in fecundity to drive directional selection for advancing lay dates. We explored these hypotheses using an individual-based model (IBM) parameterized with empirical data from a partially migratory population of American kestrels (Falco sparverius) breeding in southwest Idaho, USA. Winter–but not spring–temperatures in this region have increased significantly over the past 25 years, and kestrel nesting phenology has advanced by approximately 28 days during the same period. Specifically, we developed the IBM to experimentally manipulate the effects of warmer winters, changes in migration distance, or seasonal declines in fitness on kestrel nesting phenology. We then used the model to forecast the impacts of winter warming on nesting phenology and migration distance. Our simulation experiments suggest that earlier nesting in kestrels is best explained by the additive effects of shorter migration distances and the fitness benefits conferred by early season nesting as a consequence of warming winters. Additionally, our IBM showed profound changes in timing of breeding and migration patterns over a 50-year period. These results provide evidence for alternative mechanisms for why birds are breeding earlier, and have significant implications for the management of high priority landbird species under future climate change scenarios.

Boundaries and Relationships: Integrated Framework for Sustainable Ecosystem-Based Planning, Monitoring, and Adaptive Management

Sue Wolf (Four Corners Environmental Planning)   

Ecosystem–based planning and management focuses on relationships to place of people and species. How are the boundaries of and relationships in that place defined? How are daily planning and management activities in that place related to long-term goals?

A framework is presented for identifying and integrating: organizational goals for species; species environmental tolerances; indicators; sampling; monitoring; and, adaptive management actions into an interdisciplinary, spatial planning and adaptive management program for sustainable resource management and co-management.

Focus of the framework is on defining the ecosystem through species relationships; defining spatial management areas based on species life cycle; and, identifying critical areas for focus of planning, sampling, monitoring, assessment, and adaptive management.

The framework was initially developed and pilot-tested to support coastal and marine spatial planning, but can be applied to other planning and management structures such as climate assessment and adaptation planning.

The Integrated Effects of Spatial Timber Harvest Configurations and Climate Change on Hydrologically Sensitive Areas

Mengqi Zhao (Washington State University), Jan Boll, & Erin S. Brooks   

Climate change aggravates disturbances from timber harvest and their effects on watershed hydrology. Adaptive forest management becomes a priority to minimize the effects on water yield and runoff processes. We evaluated the effects of long-term land use change and climate change on hydrological processes in the Mica Creek Experimental Watershed (MCEW). A geographic information system based distributed model, providing temporal and spatial hydrological changes, was used to track hydrologically sensitive areas (HSAs) as the locations with greatest potential of runoff generation, expressed as P(Ai=HS). Scenarios were evaluated to avoid environmental issues based on actual land use change, adaptive harvest patterns, and climate change. Our findings highlight the strong impacts timber harvest has on increasing streamflow and, in particular, peak flow. Future climate change scenarios of increased precipitation and temperature had opposite effects on the P(Ai=HS) statistically and spatially. The precipitation scenario increased P(Ai=HS) and the temperature scenario shifted runoff timing earlier. The combined climate change impact on P(Ai=HS) depended on the magnitude of precipitation and temperature increases. Virtual logging scenarios in areas with low and high P(Ai=HS) under climate change showed that logging in high P(Ai=HS) areas amplified the impact of increased precipitation compared to low P(Ai=HS) areas. Our findings inform forest management decisions on where to conduct harvest practices given climate change to minimize impacts on the water cycle.

Spatial prediction of old-growth forest fire refugia in the US Pacific Northwest

Garrett W. Meigs (Oregon State University), Meg A. Krawchuk, David Bell, Ray Davis & Matt Gregory   

Across western North America, increasing wildfire activity presents a challenge to land managers seeking to protect and restore late-successional and old-growth (LSOG) forests. Fire refugia – locations that remain unburned or burn less severely than surrounding areas – influence forest regeneration and wildlife recolonization, and their probability is higher under specific topoedaphic and weather conditions. Here, we develop spatial predictions of LSOG fire refugia based on topography, fuels, fire weather, and climate. We focus on recent fires in forests managed under the Northwest Forest Plan, which maintains a network of LSOG forest reserves to sustain and restore habitat for the northern spotted owl (Strix occidentalis caurina) and other vulnerable species. Specifically, within large forest fires that burned between 2004 and 2015 in the West Cascades of Washington and Oregon (n = 44), we use annualized imputation maps to identify locations that supported LSOG forest composition and structure prior to burning. We classify refugia as those LSOG locations exhibiting minimal change in the Landsat-based RdNBR severity index (30-m grain). This refugia class corresponds to estimated tree basal area mortality of 0-10% based on pre- and post-fire field observations across the region. We define the remaining burned LSOG locations as non-refugia (estimated basal area mortality: >10-100%). We then employ boosted regression tree modeling to quantify refugia predictability and to render maps of refugia probability under variable fire weather conditions. Topographic metrics at multiple scales explain the variability of refugia occurrence and conditional probability, but their relative importance depends on fire weather, pre-fire fuels, and interannual climate. We will integrate results from this study with ongoing conservation planning initiatives to determine locations most likely to persist as fire refugia, particularly in LSOG forest environments critical to the survival of threatened and endangered species. Landscape-scale maps based on these spatial models could enable forest managers to prioritize locations where it is appropriate to either suppress or allow wildfires to burn under specific fire weather conditions.