ESIG Annual Scientific Report 2003 NCAR UCAR NSF ASR 2002 ATD ASR SCD ASR CGD ASR HAO ASR MMM ASR RAP ASR SCD ASR ACD ASR ASP ASR RAP ASR ESIG ASR

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Enhancing Productivity and Resilience of Natural Resources


Climate Variability in the Alaskan North Slope Coastal Region

The environmental issues affecting the Alaskan North Slope coastal region are the decline in ice extent in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas, gouging of shelves and coast by sea ice, sea level rise, and storm hazards. The focus of this project is to understand, support, and enhance the local decision-making process on the North Slope of Alaska in the face of climate variability on seasonal-to-decadal time scales, both natural and as a result of anthropogenic changes. This will help stakeholders clarify their common interests by exchanging information and knowledge concerning climate and environmental changes. During FY03, Linda Mearns and Claudia Tebaldi (ESIG/RAP) examined statistical models for downscaling large-scale climate signals into fine-scale meteorological information, such as winds, temperature, precipitation time series at specific locations or over high-resolution spatial fields. In addition, Matt Pocernich (RAP) and Mearns analyzed extreme damaging winds in Barrow and, using extreme value theory, calculated their return periods. The project website is available at nome.colorado.edu/HARC/ and will continue through FY04.

Coral Reefs and Climate Change

For some time, researchers have been making dire predictions for the world's reefs if the impact of humans is not curtailed. A new FY03 focus of research in ESIG includes research on the effects of climate change on coral reef ecosystems. Joan Kleypas is examining how two consequences of increased atmospheric CO2 concentration, greenhouse warming and changes in seawater chemistry, are affecting both coral reef organisms and the reef structures that they build. A major threat to coral reefs is the significant increase in summertime maximum temperatures, which induces a "coral bleaching" stress response that can lead to large-scale mortality of reef organisms. Kleypas and colleagues are combining CCSM (Community Climate System Model) output to help predict the probability of coral bleaching in future greenhouse scenarios. A second threat to reefs is the increase in ocean acidity, which hampers calcium carbonate production. On this front, Kleypas and colleagues at NOAA and Columbia University have designed a field program to document seawater chemistry changes on a reef at the Caribbean Marine Research Center (CMRC) in the Bahamas. Through the NCAR Opportunity Fund, the group will deploy an automated seawater sampling system onto an existing time-series station on a reef near the CMRC, which will enable documenting the diurnal cycle in seawater carbonate chemistry on the reef. This information will be used along with other time-series data (e.g., temperature, salinity, light, wind) to model coral reef calcification and organic production in response to environmental variables. This project continues through FY04.

Issues in the Impacts of Climatic Variability and Change on Agriculture

Linda Mearns and colleagues published findings during FY03 that concluded several years of research in a special issue of Climatic Change (September 2003) on "Issues in the Impacts of Climate Variability and Change on Agriculture: Applications to the Southeastern United States." Mearns and colleagues created methods to aggregate different types of data over space in the Southeast to determine appropriate scale matches. The papers in this issue are interdisciplinary in nature, from climate modeling to remote sensing to economics. The Southeast is agriculturally quite diverse, growing a wide variety of crops, and research suggests that the region could be highly vulnerable to climate change. In carrying out this multidisciplinary research, ESIG scientists learned to appreciate the importance of defining conceptual frameworks that reach across disciplines. Team members included climatologists, geographers, economists, remote sensing experts, and statisticians. A website for the project was created in FY02 at www.esig.ucar.edu/soeast/. A book containing the collection of articles has also been published by Kluwer Academic Publishers (Mearns, L.O. (ed.), 2003: Issues in the Impacts of Climate Variability and Change on Agriculture: Applications to the Southeastern United States).

International Center for Desert Affairs (ICDA)

In 1999, the Chinese government began an agressive development plan in the western part of China. A major component of this strategy is the sustainable development of its arid and semiarid regions. Michael Glantz and Qian Ye (ESIG visitor) launched ICDA as an international center in October 2002 at Xinjiang University in Urumqi, China, in collaboration with Wei Gao (Colorado State U). The plan has been given official approval by the government of the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region and focuses on establishing a series of graduate and undergraduate courses on a range of desert issues, including human impacts on desert environments, the policies, laws, and politics of the development of arid and semiarid lands, and the costs and benefits of developing fragile desert environments. During FY03, the center located on the campus of Xinjiang University, was remodeled and furnished, and approval from China's Ministry of Education has allowed ICDA to be eligible to train graduate students at the PhD level. This provides ICDA scientists the opportunity to choose graduate research assistants. In early August 2003, the Ministry of Education and UNESCO sent a delegation to visit the center. Initial planning for a workshop to be organized in FY04 was launched, and funds are being sought for this endeavor.

International Fisheries and Climate Variability

Building upon previous studies in fisheries research, Kathleen Miller and colleagues have created a collaborative international project focused on fisheries and climate variability that encompasses three separate activities to examine the impacts of climate variability on fish abundance and distribution, as well as the implications of that variability on efforts to maintain effective cooperative international fisheries management. The three components of the project are:

  1. Climate variability and Pacific salmon, which describes the evolution of the institutional framework for US/Canadian cooperation on Pacific salmon management. Because fish spawned in the rivers of one jurisdiction are vulnerable to harvest in other jurisdictions, the United States and Canada have attempted to cooperatively manage salmon harvests under the Pacific Salmon Treaty. Their efforts, however, have been stymied by repeated disagreements and by episodes of aggressive competitive harvesting. This project has already generated three publications during FY03 and another is in press.

  2. Climatic regime shifts and cooperative fishery management, which focuses on the general problems posed by climatic regime shifts to international fisheries management. As an outgrowth of the Climate Variability and Pacific Salmon project, Kathleen Miller is collaborating on a paper with Gordon Munro, describing the general problems posed by climatic regime shifts for international fisheries management. The paper surveys the evidence for the significance of climatic regime shifts and calls for greater attention to the issue on the part of the marine resource economics and fishery management communities. The paper is to be submitted to Marine Resource Economics.

  3. Climate variability and implications for tuna management, which addresses the question of how to achieve stable management of multinational marine fisheries in an unstable climatic environment. There are currently five international regional fishery management organizations (RFMOs) that govern fisheries for tuna and other highly migratory fish stocks in different parts of the world's oceans. In addition, there is a proposed new RFMO for the Central and Western Pacific. These organizations face many common challenges. A systematic comparative history of these organizations will be coupled with game-theoretic modeling and simulation to examine the effectiveness of alternative treaty arrangements for joint management of these fisheries.

Miller is collaborating with colleagues from the University of Montana, the University of British Columbia, and Moscow State University, among others. The international project was begun in FY03 and continues into FY04. For more information, see the comprehensive website that was created during FY03 at www.esig.ucar.edu/fisheries

Water and Climate

Kathleen Miller will serve as the co-Principal Investigator with David Yates (RAP) on a new project begun in ESIG during FY03 on "Climate Information for Water Supply Planning." Because water utilities must plan updates to their facilities decades in advance, effective planning requires an adequate understanding of the possible range of climate variability over the planning horizon. This project will convene an international workshop to bring members of the atmospheric, hydrologic, and water-resource scientific communities together with representatives of the water supply industry to examine the current knowledge of potential effects of global climate change on water supply. Another important development to emerge from this project will be the completion of a useful and timely document to aid with future planning. ESIG has secured funds from the American Water Works Association Research Foundation (AWWARF) to develop an educational report and to host a workshop during FY04. Miller is working together with Yates to coordinate the collection of materials and the drafting of reports.


Table of Contents | Director's Message | Executive Summary
Strategic Initiatives
| Fundamental Research | Enhancing Productivity | Protection of Life and Property
Education & Outreach | Additional Educational Activities | Publications | Community Service
Staff, Visitors and Collaborators | ASR 2003 Home