Analyzing future precipitation extremes for resource management planning

steep mountainside with snow and clouds

Drought and other precipitation extremes are of significant concern to natural resource management in both Hawai‘i and Southeast Alaska. In the coastal ecosystems of both regions, climate change is expected to influence freshwater resources by changing the frequency of extreme precipitation events and by increasing the intensity of storms and droughts. Changes to watersheds in these regions will vary significantly, depending on their elevation and location due to the steep topographic gradients of these regions.

For natural resource managers to make appropriate adaptation decisions amid this changing environment, they require a better understanding of expected future climate conditions. The Pacific Islands and Alaska Climate Adaptation Science Centers (PI-CASC and AK CASC) are uniquely positioned to address these issues because they have supported the development of high-resolution climate model projections for the steep-gradient watersheds of Hawai‘i and Southeast Alaska. However, these model results are currently not accessible to resource managers in user-friendly formats, and no clear descriptions of the data or uncertainty are available.

In collaboration with stakeholders and other partners in the Hawai‘i Drought Knowledge Exchange project and the USDA Northwest Climate Hub, this project will make existing CASC-supported numerical modeling results more accessible for resource managers who experience barriers to incorporating climate change projections into their planning. These hydro-meteorological products will serve as a plain-language resource that describes the shared challenges that Hawai‘i and Southeast Alaska face.

Southeast Alaska Dynamical Downscaling User Guide

The Alaska Climate Adaptation Science Center has worked with stakeholders to produce high-resolution climate projections for Southeast Alaska, including dynamically downscaled climate data from historical (1981-2010) and projected (2031-2060) time periods. This User Guide provides instructions on how to locate, download, and import downscaled climate data for Southeast Alaska into geographic information systems such as QGIS. 

Project details

Principal Investigator: Rick Lader

Co-Investigator(s):

Collaborator(s): Molly Tankersley, Victoria Keener, Lucas Fortini, Sierra McDaniel, Elliott Parsons, Ayron Strauch, and Holly Prendeville

Partnering Organization(s): East-West Center, UH Water Resources Research Center, Pacific Islands Ecosystems Research Center, Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park, Puʻu Waʻawaʻa Forest Reserve, Commission on Water Resource Management, USDA-Northwest Climate Hub

Start and end dates: February 2021 to January 2023

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