Idaho Climate Change Indicators Project


This project was designed to help the people of Idaho understand historic climate changes already occurring within the State.  I led a course to aimed at accomplishing this through a collaborative research project. With the help of 25 other researchers (graduate students and faculty) we prepared both a peer-reviewed manuscript to share our findings and insights.  Additionally, with the help of researchers from the English Department, we created outreach material written and designed for a general audience.

Klos, P. Z., Abatzoglou, J., Blades, J., Clark, M. A., Dodd, M., Hall, T., Haruch, A., Higuera, P., Holbrook, J. D., Jansen, V. S., Kemp, K., Lankford, A., Lamar, A., Link, T., Magney, T., Meddens, A. J. H., Mitchell, L., Moore, B., Morgan, P., Newingham, B.A., Niemeyer, R., Soderquist, B., Suazo, A.A., Vierling, K.T., Walden, V., Walsh, C. (). Indicators of climate change in Idaho: An assessment framework for coupling biophysical change and social perception. Weather, Climate, and Society (Journal of the American Meteorological Society)

Climate changes are well documented at the global scale, but changes at finer resolutions are not as well understood. Finer scale information is needed for creating specific, place-based planning and adaption efforts. As a group or researchers seeking to aid in these efforts, we used an interdisciplinary approach to develop a framework for indicator-focused climate change assessments. This framework overlaps social perceptions and data needs with the reality of observed, biophysical changes at local-to-regional scales. A statewide survey with natural resource managers and professionals was conducted to assess the perceived impacts from climate change and determine the biophysical data needed to measure those impacts. Changes to water resources and wildfire risk were the highest areas of concern. Beyond the survey, 15 biophysical indicator datasets were summarized that spanned direct climate metrics (e.g. air temperature) to indicators only partially influenced by climate (e.g. wildfire). Quantitative changes in indicators were determined using time series analysis from 1975-2010. Certain indicators displayed significant (p < 0.05) to moderately significant (0.05 < p < 0.20) trends over the analysis period, including growing-season length, annual temperature, forest area burned, lilac phenology, mountain bluebird phenology, precipitation intensity, center of timing of streamflow, and 1 April snowpack. In contrast, other metrics revealed no trends (p > 0.20) over the period of analysis, including volumetric streamflow, salmon migration dates, and stream temperature. A final conceptual model of the social and biophysical data provides an interdisciplinary framework useful to others when choosing indicators at local-to-regional scales for climate change assessments.

Conference Presentation

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