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USFWS Climate Change Update - October 2012

USFWS Climate Change Update - October 2012
Climate Change Update provides information and news related to the Service's strategic response to accelerating climate change.


Buying Time Against Rising Seas
In what may be a first, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has attempted to reintroduce a federally listed plant at a higher elevation in the Florida Keys, for the express purpose of buying more time against the rising seas. Learn more.

At Arctic Refuge, Now Is the Time to Study Shorebirds
The arctic environment, resilient in so many ways, is shifting. Climate change, being seen all over the globe, is moving twice as fast in northern Alaska. For David Payer, supervisory ecologist at the 19.3-million-acre Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, the potential for major environmental change in the future makes baseline research crucial now. Only by establishing a clear understanding of shorebird populations and ecology can the refuge staff know how habitats are changing and how to react. Learn more.

Saving Native Prairies: A Landscape Conservation Approach
Conservationists recognize that collaborative, science-based management is necessary to ensure a future for native prairies and wetlands, as well as the unique wildlife these habitats support. Learn more.

Conserving Species at Landscape Scales
To ensure sustainable populations of fish and wildlife in the face of climate change and other pressures and uncertainties, the Service has developed draft technical guidance to help employees and partners establish measurable conservation goals at defined landscape scales. The guidance describes a standard process and criteria for defining conservation goals using a surrogate species approach, reducing the burden of addressing the requirements of many species individually. Learn more and comment on the draft guidance.

New Resources from the Pacific Northwest
A University of Washington-anchored consortium sponsored by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and many others has launched a website for the Pacific Northwest Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment project: The site currently provides an overview of the project and its data products. In the future, publications and data will be published this site as they become available. The group also launched a Species Sensitivity Database

NCTC Offers Climate Academy Online Course
This new 10-month online course is designed to cover the fundamentals of climate science, provide tools and resources for climate adaptation, and increase climate literacy and communication through online lectures, webinars, and discussions. The course is developed in partnership with staff from the USFWS’s NCTC, The Wildlife Society (TWS), the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (AFWA), AFWA’s Management Assistance Team (MAT), the National Park Service (NPS), and the California Department of Fish and Game (CDFG). Learn more.

NCTC Offers Decision Analysis for Climate Change Online Course
Natural resource managers are increasingly tasked with understanding climate change impacts and using this knowledge in making decisions. Yet the uncertainty inherent in evaluating climate impacts often impedes action. This new 8-week online course provides participants with skills to address climate change impacts in making decisions about natural resource management and highlights principles from Informing Decisions in a Changing Climate (2009) National Research Council report. Learn more.


National Adaptation Forum Scheduled April 2-4, 2013
The inaugural National Adaptation Forum scheduled April 2-4, 2013 will convene adaptation practitioners and experts from around the country focused on moving from adaptation planning to adaptation action. The forum is designed to: contribute to the development of a community of practice around climate change adaptation; create a venue for practitioners to share information, progress, and strategies; and support on-the-ground implementation by providing managers and regional experts with a venue to exchange knowledge of and tools for incorporating climate change into their work. Call for abstracts (trainings, symposia and working group proposals) opens Oct. 15, 2012 and registration opens Nov. 1, 2012. Learn more.

Forest Fires: Burn Out
Forests in the American west are under attack from giant fires, climate change and insect outbreaks. Some ecosystems will never be the same. (Nature). Learn more.

Climate Change Impacts on Biodiversity, Ecosystems, and Ecosystem Services
Sixty contributors from federal agencies, academia, and NGOs, contributed to this recently released technical report for the 2013 National Climate Assessment. This synthesis report covers the latest research and findings on observed and projected impacts to biodiversity; and to better communicate effects, follows with ecosystem structural elements and functions (people experience climate change impacts on biodiversity and ecosystems as changes in ecosystem services). Learn more.

A National Strategy for Advancing Climate Modeling
A new report from the National Research Council concludes that climate models will need to evolve substantially to deliver climate projections at the scale and level of detail desired by decision makers. As climate change has pushed climate patterns outside of historic norms, the need for detailed projections is growing across all sectors, including agriculture, insurance, and emergency preparedness planning. Learn more.

Climate Change: Evidence, Impacts and Choices
This National Research Council booklet summarizes the current state of knowledge about climate change; explains some impacts expected in this century and beyond; and examines how science can help inform choices about managing and reducing the risks posed by climate change. Click here to download a high-resolution PDF of the booklet.

Destroyed Coastal Habitats Produce Significant Greenhouse Gas
Destruction of coastal habitats may release as much as 1 billion tons of carbon into the atmosphere each year, 10 times higher than previously reported, according to a new Duke-led study. (ScienceDailyLearn more.

Arctic Sea Ice Hits Smallest Extent in Satellite Era
The frozen cap of the Arctic Ocean appears to have reached its annual summertime minimum extent and broken a new record low on Sept. 16, the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) has reported. Analysis of satellite data by NASA and the NASA-supported NSIDC at the University of Colorado in Boulder showed that the sea ice extent shrunk to 1.32 million square miles (3.41 million square kilometers). (ScienceDailyLearn more.

Impacts of Sea-level Rise and Development on Lower Keys Marsh Rabbit
Analysis of aerial photographs from 1959 to 2006 provided evidence of a 64 percent net loss of the endangered Lower Keys marsh rabbit's habitat, the majority due to sea-level rise (>48 percent). In addition, there was a strong negative relationship between the proportion of development per island and the amount of new habitat formed. Islands with modest development (less than 8 percent of land area) saw formation of new areas of marsh vegetation suitable for rabbits, whereas islands with 8 percent or more of their lands developed between 1959 and 2006 saw little to no addition of Lower Keys marsh rabbit habitat. Learn more.


FWS Climate Change Response
How do partnership efforts such as Landscape Conservation Cooperatives and the National Fish, Wildlife, and Plants Climate Adaptation Strategy fit into the Service's overall response to accelerating climate change? How is our agency reducing its carbon footprint? What is our agency doing now to reduce the impacts of climate change on fish, wildlife and plants? Learn more.

Landscape Conservation Cooperatives
Natural systems and landscapes are impacted by increasing land use pressures and widespread resource threats amplified by a rapidly changing climate. These changes are occurring at an unprecedented pace and scale. By leveraging resources and strategically targeting science to inform conservation decisions and actions, Landscape Conservation Cooperatives (LCCs) are a network of partnerships working in unison to ensure the sustainability of America’s land, water, wildlife, and cultural resources. Learn more.

National Fish, Wildlife, and Plants Climate Adaptation Strategy
The National Fish, Wildlife, and Plants Climate Adaptation Strategy will provide a unified approach—reflecting shared principles and science-based practices—for reducing the negative impacts of climate change on fish, wildlife, plants, habitats and associated ecological processes across geographic scales. Learn more.

FWS Climate Change Information Toolkit
A key part of the Service's climate change strategy is to inform FWS staff about the impacts of accelerating climate change and to engage partners and others in seeking collaborative solutions. Through shared knowledge and communication, we can work together to reduce the impacts of climate change on fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats. Here are some resources that can help.

Climate Change, Wildlife, and Wildlands Toolkit
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, in partnership with the National Park Service and with input from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, developed a kit for use when talking with the public about how climate change is affecting our nation's wildlife and public lands. Learn more.

Safeguarding Wildlife from Climate Change Web Conference Series
The FWS and National Wildlife Federation have developed a series of web conferences to increase communication and transfer of technical information between conservation professionals regarding the growing challenges of climate change. Learn more.


NCTC Climate Change Resource Library
The NCTC Climate Change Resource Library provides selected citations to peer-reviewed journal articles, documents, books, theses, presentations, and Websites on the effect of climate change on North American fish, wildlife and habitats. FWS employees can access the library from InsideFWS.

For more information on how the Service is working with others to conserve the nature of America in a changing climate, visit

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