Mc neeleynaf april32013_4.1.13


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  • We looked at adaptation actions occurring across the entire U.S. across all sectors, and across all scales of governance. This included federal agencies, states, tribes, local/regional governments, and the private sector. We reviewed something on the order of 160 technical inputs and expressions of interest – I think the highest number for any chapter. Since there was no formal technical report on adaptation for the NCA, we published a longer article in Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies.Public review period still open until April 12th
  • We discussed across scales of governance from federal, regional, local, tribes, private sector and NGOs. Here because of time limits I will focus on state and regional for the Plains. Updated: December 11th, 2012 on C2ES website. But there are actions happening on local and regional scales through, for example, the Western Governor’s Association on the regional scale, and local governments on a smaller scale
  • 14. Tulsa, OK, has a three-pronged approach to reducing flooding and managing stormwater: 1) prevent new problems by looking ahead and avoiding future downstream problems from new development (for example, requiring on-site stormwater detention); 2) correct existing problems and learn from disasters to reduce future disasters (for example, through watershed management and the acquisition and relocation of buildings in flood-prone areas); and 3) act to enhance the safety, environment, and quality of life of the community through public awareness, an increase in stormwater quality, and emergency management. ( 15. Firewise Communities USA is a nationwide program of the National Fire Protection Association and is co-sponsored by USDA Forest Service, DOI, and the National Association of State Foresters. According to the Texas Forest Service, there are more than 20 recognized Texas Firewise Communities. The Texas Forest Service works closely with communities to help them to reach Firewise Community status and offers a variety of awareness, educational, informational, and capacity-building efforts, such as Texas Wildscapes, a program that assists in choosing less fire-friendly plants. ( 16. After the heavy rainfall events of 2004 that resulted in significant erosion on his farms, Dan Gillespie, a farmer with NRCS in Norfolk, NE, began experimenting with adding cover crops to the no-till process. It worked so well in reducing erosion and increasing crop yields that he is now sharing his experience with other farmers (;; personal communication, L Carter, June 1, 2012)
  • Section on the barriers to adaptation in terms of financial, resource, knowledge, lack of leadership, and divergent risk perceptions. Then we focus on some illustrative cases that demonstrate overcoming those barriers
  • Section on the barriers to adaptation in terms of financial, resource, knowledge, lack of leadership, and divergent risk perceptions. Then we focus on some illustrative cases that demonstrate overcoming those barriers
  • Four case studies that focused on implemented adaptation and projects that overcame barriers. One very relevant to the work of the CSC is theClimate Change Response Framework spearheaded by the Northern Institute of Applied Climate Science, the USDA’s Forest Service, and many other partners. They initiated the Climate Change Response Framework to incorporate scientific research on climate change impacts into on-the-ground management.From the beginning, the Framework has taken an adaptive management approach in itsadaptation planning and projects. Lessons learned include:-- Define the purpose and scope of the Framework and its components early, but allow for refinement to take advantage of new opportunities;-- Begin projects with a synthesis of existing information to avoid duplicating efforts;-- Plan for the extra time necessary to implement true collaboration;--- Recognize the necessity of effective communication among people with different goals,disciplinary backgrounds, vocabulary, and perspectives on uncertainty;-- Integrate the ecological and socioeconomic dimensions early by emphasizing the manyways that communities value and depend on forests; and--Interdisciplinary work requires a common language that is hard to develop --The concept of uncertainty underlies most discussions whether people realize it or --Social issues are integral to climate change adaptation --Managers and scientists often have different world views
  • Different ways to think about adaptation. The Scanning the Horizons framework, however, focuses on ecosystems vulnerability and the NCA is more human-focused. What we are trying to do with this group is integrate them.
  • Each framing prioritizes the production of different types of knowledge, and emphasizes different types of responses to climate change “Contextual vulnerability, in contrast, is based on a processual and multidimensional view of climate–society interactions. Both climate variability and change are considered to occur in the context ofpolitical, institutional, economic and social structures and changes, which interact dynamically withcontextual conditions associated with a particular ‘exposure unit’.”
  • O’Brien, K., Eriksen, S., Nygaard, L. P., -- Schjolden, A. (2007). Why different interpretations of vulnerability matter in climate change discourses. Climate Policy, 7(1), 73–88. Retrieved from
  • Analytical framework for understanding social-ecological systems vulnerability from climate disturbances, I will get into this framework approach more on Friday.
  • -- First I had general questions about vulnerability and adaptive capacity to climate disturbances…-- but then specifically I also wanted to look at impacts, vulnerability and responses to the 2002 drought.--LAST BULLET: I had read about how the basin was able to avoid a formal curtailment call on the mainstem of the Yampa River, and I really wanted to understand from an ethnographic point of view why and how that happened.
  • Description of the region: Northwest corner of Colorado, with Steamboat Springs and Craig the two biggest towns of around 10,000 and 9,000 people respectivelyEconomy and culture is primarily ranching and recreation/tourismIn addition it is a big energy extraction region with the Rangely oil fields and the Piceance Basin as well as coal miningPolitically quite conservative, especially in the western portion Moffat and Rio Blanco counties, Routt county is more liberalThe region has strong desire to maintain the ranching culture as well as energy production. Coal mining is a big part of the culture as well. This makes talking about climate adaptation and mitigation very interesting because the solutions to climate change are often framed in ways that directly threaten their livelihoods in the regionThey get a lot of snow, which is why Steamboat is known for some of the best skiing in the worldEconomically it’s relatively affluent [say this better] so there is a myth that this region is not vulnerable.the mainstem of the Yampa River is relatively unmanaged. But the unmanaged aspect is in part exactly why they are V because they don’t’ have much storage in the basin. Storage is what gets an area through periods of drought.
  • From a systems perspective you have to understand the Yampa-White Basins region in the context of the Upper Basin of the Colorado River system as part of the 1922 Colorado River Compact that allocates water between the 7 member states and subsequent region compacts. Water availability is determined by both physical and legal availability. So, it’s important to understand water resource management and governance under climate change within these social and physical realities.
  • Integrated social-natural sciences methodology that is systems oriented, social-ecological systems focus, bottom-up, ethnographic approach, inductive, largely qualitative for this phase 1Drought vulnerability indicators are limited and sometimes can be problematic in that they are subjective and often driven by available data, which can oversimplify causation and miss more nuanced but key qualitative differences and nonlinear relationships that matter (Kallis 2008). This is why combining top-down data driven assessments with participatory “on the ground” methods is important for understanding the full picture of risk and vulnerability. What can these bottom-up methods elucidate for the Yampa/White Basins region compared to the state top-down, data-driven analysis? Here we argue that a toad’s eye view or “bottom up” analysis that includes interviews with local water managers, users, etc… can complement top-down data-driven assessments and ideally should be done in concert when possible. So, my study is very complementary to a data-driven, top-down drought vulnerability study such as the one done by CWCB.
  • Reflection of all the water stakeholders, users, managers in the basin across sectors. So to understand watershed “system”, community, and culture I had to understand all these users’ perspectives.
  • Also, looking at different indicators for drought: [need to update with recalibrated #’s]The Palmer Index is basically a soil moisture indicatorfor relatively homogeneous regions, but it is not designed for large topographic variations across a region and it does not account for snow accumulation and subsequent runoff. So, the state climatologists office created the Colorado Modified PalmerModerate to Extreme drought began in earnest in May of 2000 and lasted solid until October of 2004“Exceptional” drought was July and August 2000; June-October, 2001; Feb 2002-August 20042002 is in pink as it is the focus of my paper. Working on follow up research on the 2012 drought in the region, and need to update thisPalmer Drought Index ScaleMid-Range: -1.99 to +1.99Moderate Drought: -2.00 to -2.99Severe Drought: -3.00 to -3.99Extreme Drought: -4.00 to -4.99Exceptional Drought: -5.00 and below
  • Another commonly used index in Colorado because of the limitations of the Palmer is the The Surface Water Supply Index (SWSI) developed by this the Colorado Division of Water Resources and the U.S.D.A. Natural Resources Conservation Service is used as an indicator of mountain-based water supply conditions in the major river basins of the state. SWSI for June 1, 2002 - Note: Yampa-White is up there with San Juan-Dolores region for being worst in the state at this point.Not going to show each month, but similar for each month throughout the summer in terms of how Yampa-White compares to the rest of the state based on this indicator.The SWSI (pronounced "swazee") is designed to complement the Palmer in the state of Colorado, where mountain snowpack is a key element of water supply; calculated by river basin, based on snowpack, streamflow, precipitation, and reservoir storage. (
  • Importance of telling the whole story. One of the things the Yampa is kind of famous for is never having had a formal call for use curtailment on the main stem of the river. This is in large part because the social capital there is strong, in other words, the relationships and communication between users in the basin along with really strong leadership of a handful of individuals. The UYWCD called this “all hands” meeting in April and they were able to get voluntary reductions and voluntary reservoir releases to keep water in the river and avoid a call. That summer, the story on the ground was that many ditches in the region not able to divert water at all because there literally was physically no water.Early calls and low runoff meant that several reservoirs for irrigation and recreation didn’t fill (Stillwater, Yamcolo, and Stagecoach). Calls began as early as April and many lasted entire irrigation season. Remarkably despite having considerable social capital/networks nobody really knew the whole story of 2002 throughout the Yampa-White. Many water managers even didn’t know how close they were to a call on the river.
  • What nearly sent the river into a call was the ability of the power plants to get water to keep the power on. Coal-fired power plants need water for cooling and if they go dry the power shuts off. So these power plants were really the regions Achilles heel and put the whole region at risk…… -Water commissioner was going to curtail the City of Craig, which was about to run out of water to shepherd water to the Tristate power plant so the city was in the process of putting a call on the river and then it rained. Aug/Sept rain didn’t end drought, but it did help prevent the first formal call on the mainstem of the Yampa River.All of the water commissioners and water managers I interviewed said same thing: if a two or more year 2002-like drought occurred this would be very impactful on the region and many users would not get water. So, now after the 2012 drought and this winter with low moisture everyone is on edge because a second year drought of equal or worse magnitude would be quite disastrous.
  • Take home message: Understanding drought vulnerability and risk from an interdisciplinary livelihoods perspective is important because…..risk is in the eye of the beholder. The locals in this region feel they were in 2002 very vulnerable and continue to be, especially if there is a multi-year 2002-like droughtIn this case the social-ecological-climate system interplay between these four primary sectors represented in the pic on the left: Energy (Hayden power plant in the background); Ranching represented by the hay field; Conservation (this photo was taken from The Nature Conservancy’s Carpenter’s Ranch); and Recreation and tourism (if you squint hard you can see Steamboat ski area way off in the distance). To quote from the documentary Green with Envy: “this isn’t just about water, this is about home”Also, a lot of benefit to ethnography that involves people with very different worldviews from your own. There are a lot of climate skeptics and some deniers in this region [at this table, which is the Yampa-White Basins Round Table], and I learned so much from them.
  • Mc neeleynaf april32013_4.1.13

    1. 1. Shannon McNeeleyNorth Central Climate Science CenterNatural Resources Ecology Lab, NESB A309Colorado State UniversityFort Collins, Colorado 80523shannon.mcneeley@colostate.edu970-491-1852Assessing Vulnerability and Adaptive Capacityfor Adaptation to Climate Change in Social-ecological SystemsApril 3, 2013National Adaptation ForumDenver, CO
    2. 2. NCA Adaptation DRAFT Key FindingsKey Messages:1. Substantial adaptation planning is occurring in the public and privatesectors and at all levels of government, however, few measures have beenimplemented and those that have appear to be incremental changes.2. Barriers to implementation of adaptation action include lack of funding,policy and legal impediments, and difficulty in anticipating climate-relatedchanges at local scales.3. There is no “one-size fits all” adaptation, but there are similarities inapproaches across regions and sectors. Sharing best practices, learning bydoing, and iterative and collaborative processes including stakeholderinvolvement, can help support progress.
    3. 3. NCA Adaptation DRAFT Key FindingsKey Messages:4. Climate change adaptation actions often fulfill other societal goals,such as sustainable development, disaster risk reduction, orimprovements in quality of life, and can therefore be incorporatedinto existing decision-making processes.5. Vulnerability to climate change is exacerbated by other stresses suchas pollution and habitat fragmentation. Adaptation to multiplestresses requires assessment of the composite threats as well astradeoffs amongst costs, benefits, and risks of available options.6. The effectiveness of climate change adaptation has seldom beenevaluated, because actions have only recently been initiated, andcomprehensive evaluation metrics do not yet exist.
    4. 4. State Adaptation Plans
    5. 5. Adaptation Examples from the Great Plains14. Tulsa, OK, reducing flooding andmanaging stormwater15. Firewise Communities USA is anationwide program of the National FireProtection Association and is co-sponsored by USDA Forest Service, DOI,and the National Association of StateForesters. According to the Texas ForestService, there are more than 20recognized Texas Firewise Communities.16. After the heavy rainfall events of2004 that resulted in significant erosionon his farms, Dan Gillespie, a farmer withNRCS in Norfolk, NE, beganexperimenting with adding cover cropsto the no-till processMap from: Bierbaum, R., Smith, J. B., Lee, A., Blair, M., Carter, L., Chapin, F. S., Fleming, P., et al. (2013). Acomprehensive review of climate adaptation in the United States: more than before, but less than needed.Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change, 18(3), 361–406. doi:10.1007/s11027-012-9423-1
    6. 6. Adaptation BarriersBarrier Specific ExamplesClimate Change Information and Decision-Making•Uncertainty about future climate impacts• Disconnect between information providersand information users• Fragmented, complex, and often confusinginformation• Lack of climate education for professionalsand the public• Lack of usability and accessibility of existinginformationLack of Resources to Begin and SustainAdaptation Efforts• Lack of financial resources / no dedicatedfunding• Limited staffing capacity• Underinvestment in human dimensionsresearchFragmentation of Decision-Making • Lack of coordination within and acrossagencies, private companies, and non-governmental organizations• Uncoordinated and fragmented researchefforts• Disjointed climate related information• Fragmented ecosystem and jurisdictionalboundaries
    7. 7. Adaptation BarriersBarrier Specific ExamplesInstitutional Constraints • Lack of institutional flexibility• Rigid laws and regulations• No legal mandate to act• Use of historical data to inform futuredecisions• Restrictive management procedures• Lack of operational control or influenceLack of Leadership • Lack of political leadership• Rigid and entrenched political structures• PolarizationDivergent Risk Perceptions, Cultures, andValues• Conflicting values/risk perceptions• Little integration of local knowledge,context, and needs with traditionalscientific information• Cultural taboos and conflict withcultural beliefs• Resistance to change due to issues suchas risk perception
    8. 8. Northwoods Case Study
    9. 9. Illustrative Case Study – NIDIS (National IntegratedDrought Information System)• Useable Technology and Informationfor Decision Support• Financial Assistance• Institutional/Partnerships• Institutional/Policy• Leadership and Champions• drought early warning informationsystems with regional detailconcerning onset and severity;• a web-based portal(;• coordination of federal research insupport of and use of these systems;and• leveraging of 14 existing partnershipsand of forecasting and assessmentprograms.
    10. 10. NCA Scanning the Horizons
    11. 11. Outcome versus Context VulnerabilityO’Brien, K., Eriksen, S., Nygaard, L. P., -- Schjolden, A. (2007). Why different interpretations ofvulnerability matter in climate change discourses. Climate Policy, 7(1), 73–88
    12. 12. Diagnostic tool for identifying interpretations ofvulnerabilityO’Brien, K., Eriksen, S., Nygaard, L. P., -- Schjolden, A. (2007). Why different interpretations ofvulnerability matter in climate change discourses. Climate Policy, 7(1), 73–88
    13. 13. Vulnerability framework for a socio-ecological system adapted fromTurner et al., 2003 in Sonwa et al 2012.
    14. 14. VA Research in the North Central Region
    15. 15. Yampa-White Basins Climate and Water Scarcity VAOverall Study Objectives• Understand SES vulnerability to climate variabilityand change in Yampa-White Basins region ofColorado– Based on climate trends and experience to date who,what, when most vulnerable to climate disturbances?• Regional impacts, vulnerabilities, responses to2002 drought– What happened “on the ground” in the Y/W region– How and why did people respond collectively andwithout conflict to 2002 drought?
    16. 16. Yampa-White Basins Region
    17. 17. Study Methodology• Social-ecological systems approach• Bottom-up, participatory, ethnographic• Cross-sectoral, regional scale• Key Stakeholder Interviews• Extensive Interdisciplinary Literature Review• Participant Observation• Document Analysis• Atlas.ti Grounded Theory• Network Analysis
    18. 18. Study MethodologyInterviews– Water commissioners, div 6 engineer– County commissioners and city staff– Conservancy districts (reservoir managers)– CRWCD– Agriculture– Energy– Recreation and tourism– Water Law– Academia– State Parks– CWCB staff (CRWAS, IBCC, BRT)– Federal agency staff (BLM, USFWS)– Russ George on HB1177
    19. 19. Colorado Modified Palmer Drought Severity IndexYampa/White Basins Region 1999-2009Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec1999 3.62 3.49 2.27 3.96 4.44 4.35 5.11 5.24 5.07 3.91 2.64 1.992000 1.87 1.80 1.19 -1.98 -2.30 -2.89 -3.62 -3.62 -2.55 -2.74 -2.36 -2.342001 -2.47 -1.93 -2.43 -2.55 -2.53 -3.28 -3.70 -3.55 -3.77 -3.50 -2.73 -2.782002 -2.84 -3.28 -3.04 -3.70 -4.57 -5.55 -5.94 -5.91 -4.87 -4.18 -3.86 -3.792003 -3.75 -3.19 -3.38 -3.56 -3.32 -3.31 -4.10 -4.80 -4.39 -5.04 -3.81 -3.212004 -3.05 -2.88 -3.73 -3.45 -3.48 -3.75 -3.96 -4.02 -2.76 -1.97 -1.14 -1.262005 -0.62 1.98 1.84 1.88 1.98 3.56 3.78 3.73 3.71 3.88 3.63 2.982006 2.92 2.31 2.53 1.66 0.83 -2.06 -2.36 -2.06 1.38 3.16 2.90 2.492007 2.51 2.56 2.00 1.01 0.85 -1.52 -2.05 -2.07 1.65 1.94 1.15 2.942008 3.22 3.45 3.91 3.70 4.17 4.33 4.06 3.07 3.33 2.56 2.05 2.282009 2.40 1.85 1.50 1.76 1.93 3.04 3.02 2.28 1.95 1.74 1.45 1.58From:
    20. 20.
    21. 21. Anatomy of a Drought: 2002 “Severe” Droughtin the Yampa RiverApril4/18 – Callon RoaringFork4/19 - Callon Bear RUYWCD “allhands”meetingMay 5/1 - Admin onFish Cr &Fortification CrEarly runofflate May/earlyJune (week to10 days early)June Peak flows 1/3of averageOak Creek on calland releases outof SheriffReservoir June 24-Sept 16JulyBy mid-July Stillwaterand Yamcolo hadreleased all availableirrigation water7/12-24 releasesout of ElkheadReservoir forTristateJul/Aug SBS voluntaryban all activities intown and fishing fromStagecoach to Elk R(flows at 17cfs mid-July)Upper Yampavoluntaryreleases out ofStagecoachAugMid-Jul-Sept 18thElkhead &Stagecoach toTristate andHaydenEnd of summer:City of Craig nearlyplaced a callHigh water transitlosses and water notreaching owner’sdiversion structureAug 30 – Xcelreleased fromSteamboat Lakefor Hayden PowerPlantSept9/5-9/18 curtailmentson main stem betweenreservoirs and Tristatepower station in CraigSept 18th RAIN.Reservoirreleases ceased
    22. 22. Drought and the Water-Energy NexusInsert google map of power plants andreservoirs