Ecological Drought in California Forests: Linking Climate Science and Resource Management
Monday, August 11, 2014: 1:30 PM-5:00 PM
307, Sacramento Convention Center
Mark W. Schwartz, University of California, Davis
Stephen T. Jackson, U.S. Geological Survey; and
Debra Schlafmann, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Stephen T. Jackson, U.S. Geological Survey
Ecological drought has long been a critical concern in the west. Climate projections for the next century uniformly indicate increasing growing-season water stress throughout California. California, like the rest of the arid and semi-arid west, has a long history of drought cycles with large impacts on forest disturbance, recruitment, and structure. The region is in transition to a new normal under climate change. From the Sierras to the sea, California forests are under the triple stresses of increased fire hazard through heavy fuel loads, increasing ignition pressure because of proximity to people, and increasing drought stress. Resource managers are faced with the difficult task of designing climate-smart adaptation strategies for forest management. Yet, there remains, and will remain, much uncertainty in climate model projections, limited capacity to downscale these models to capture topographic complexities of air drainages and local precipitation patterns, uncertain ecological responses to droughts, and complex ecological responses to multiple and often interacting drivers of forest change. The proposed session will progress systematically through a suite of topics. First, a climatologist with long experience in working with resource managers will discuss the state of the art and uncertainties in climate downscaling. This will be followed by a series of presentations by forest ecologists on various aspects and consequences of ecological drought. The session will end with perspectives on resource management, focusing on how researchers and managers can work closely together to develop information relevant to climate adaptation in forested lands.