Implementing a decision support system for the Sierra Nevada to monitor, report, and forecast ecological conditions
The Sierra Nevada is experiencing changes in hydrologic regimes such as decreases in snowmelt and peak runoff affecting forest health and water resources. Currently, the USDA Forest Service Region 5 is undergoing Forest Plan revisions to integrate climate change impacts into mitigation and adaptation strategies. However, there are few tools in place to conduct quantitative assessments of forest and surface conditions in relation to mountain hydrology, while easily and effectively delivering that information to forest managers. To assist the USDA Forest Service, this research team created a Decision Support System (DSS) featuring data integration, data viewing, reporting, and forecasting of ecological conditions within all Sierra Nevada intersecting watersheds. This DSS focuses on hydrological variables and large scale fire data which are hosted and available for download on the NASA OpenNEX cloud environment.
The Sierra DSS Mapping Viewer provides an online integration of satellite, modeled, and field-derived datasets. Users can view and analyze spatial hydrological, climate, and land surface datasets in many time periods (past, current, and future) for specific research needs, similar to a standalone geographic information system (GIS). Additionally, projected climate conditions and vegetative properties derived from the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 5 (CMIP5), the Lund-Potsdam-Jena Dynamic Global Model (LPJ), and the California Basin Characterization Model (BCM) are summarized and available for viewing and download for each watershed within the Sierra Nevada. Users also have the ability to access statistical summaries for each watershed on all featured climate and surface variables in monthly and seasonal time steps. For example, users can view significantly decreased values in snowfall from 2010-2100, based on California BCM outputs for a specific area. This DDS will be used by the USDA Forest Service and other organizations interested in resource management in the Sierra Nevada to quickly address ecological concerns.