Projected Future Climate Analogues and Climate “Velocities” in North America

Friday, 19 December 2014
Sarah L Shafer, US Geological Survey, Corvallis, OR, United States and Patrick J Bartlein, University of Oregon, Geography, Eugene, OR, United States
Future climate changes may have significant effects on many North American ecosystems. One way of assessing the potential impacts of future climate change is to use future climate analogues of present climate to evaluate the spatial extent and rates of future climate change. We used a set of Coupled Model Intercomparison Project phase 5 (CMIP5) coupled atmosphere-ocean general circulation model (AOGCM) future climate simulations (2006-2100) produced under representative concentration pathway scenario RCP8.5. We regridded these data to a 10-km equal-area grid of North America. Modern climate data (1961-1990 30-year mean) were interpolated to the same 10-km grid. The projected future climate data were analyzed using 10-year mean values of monthly and seasonal temperature and precipitation and a set of derived annual bioclimatic variables (e.g., growing degree days) considered to be ecologically significant.

Potential future climate analogues were calculated for each grid cell using Euclidean distances to identify similar climates occurring elsewhere in North America. We identify regions that are projected to retain climates similar to present in the future (e.g., parts of the southeastern United States) and regions where present climates are projected to become less common or to disappear in the future (e.g., high elevation sites in western North America). We also calculate the rates of change in locations of similar climates (i.e., climate analogue velocities) and compare our results with simulated paleoclimate velocities over the past 22 kyr (from TraCE-21ka transient climate simulations for 22 ka-present). We discuss the implications of these results for conservation and natural resource management in North America. We also describe a web application being developed to allow researchers, decision makers, and members of the public, to visualize, explore, and use the climate analogue data.