“Actionable” Climate Scenarios for Natural Resource Managers in Southwestern Colorado

Wednesday, 17 December 2014: 11:05 AM
Imtiaz Rangwala, Physical Sciences Division, NOAA ESRL, Boulder, CO, United States; Western Water Assessment/CIRES, University of Colorado, Boulder, CO, United States, Renee Rondeau, Colorado Natural Heritage Program, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO, United States and Carina Wyborn, College of Forestry and Conservation, University of Montana, Missoula, MT, United States
Locally relevant projections of climate change provide critical insights for natural resource managers seeking to adapt their management activities to climate change. To provide such information, we developed narrative scenarios of future climate change and its impacts on different ecosystems in southwestern Colorado. This multi-institution and trans-disciplinary project seeks to provide useful and useable knowledge to facilitate climate change adaptation in the context of uncertainty. The narratives are intended to provide detailed insights into the range of changes that natural resource managers may face in the future. These scenarios were developed in an iterative process through interactions between ecologists, social and climate scientists. In our scenario development process, climate uncertainty is acknowledged by having multiple scenarios, where each scenario is regarded as a storyline with equal probability as another scenario. Rather than a qualitative narration of the general direction of change and range in responses, we quantified changes in several decision relevant climate and ecological responses based on our best available understanding and provided a tight storyline for each scenario to facilitate (a) a more augmented use of scientific information in a decision-making process, (b) differential responses from stakeholders across the different scenarios, and (c) identification of strategies that could work across these multiple scenarios. This presentation will discuss the process of selecting the scenarios, quantifying climate and ecological responses, and the criteria for building the narrative for each scenario. We will also cover the process by which these scenarios get used, and how the user feedbacks are integrated in further developing the tools and processes.