COS 120-1 - Downscaled climate projections for consideration in complex terrain of the western mountain initiative: A Colorado example

Thursday, August 11, 2011: 1:30 PM
18D, Austin Convention Center
Dennis S. Ojima, Ecosystem Science and Sustainability and the Natural Resource Ecology Laboratory, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO and Timothy Kittel, Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research, University of Colorado at Boulder Boulder, Boulder, CO

Decision making and regional planners in the West are being challenged by emerging climate change effects on various ecosystem services, natural resources, and biodiversity. The ability to manage for resilience and to strengthen conservation efforts under changing climate conditions in complex terrain is difficult without climate information at the appropriate scales. A 1km daily downscaled climate data set was created for the Western mountain regions of USA. We present here analysis from the Colorado Rockies to demonstrate the ability to evaluate local coping strategies and assessing impacts of climate change in these mountain systems. Statistical downscaling approaches provide a way to extract climate change information at these appropriate scales. The daily climate projections will utilize the available DayMet data set (Thornton at UCAR:  as the baseline data set for the downscaling effort. This 1km multi-year daily climate data set provides a 1980 to 2003 baseline to link to scenario output from the NCAR’s Community Climate System Model (CCSM) and other general circulation models. Statistical downscaling methods developed in the VEMAP project and at NCAR were used to create the 1km data set for the Western US.


Regional downscaled climate information provided useful information for conservation planning analysis. Changes in daily precipitation and temperatures were generated at the 1 km spatial resolution. Derived climate variables were generated to assess the changes in hot days, growing degree days, and growing season soil moisture to assess the impact of climate change on production of ecosystems in Colorado.

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