Building Climate Science into Land and Water Conservation Planning and Decisionmaking in the American Southwest


Start Date

Primary Investigators

Geographic Region

The Nature Conservancy
Others participating in the Gunnison Basin conservation efforts

Collaboration with Leveraged Project: Southwest Colorado Social Ecological Climate Resilience: The experience of the project personnel in the core effort helped Travis and Rangwala become part of a separate but linked DOI North Central CSC-funded project. Rangwala has been the lead climatologist on this project, which entails a collaboration among the Nature Conservancy (TNC) and its partners in the Gunnison Basin, San Juan Mountains and the Four Corners regions. He has developed landscape-scale climate scenarios from the CMIP5 global climate models for the region. These will be used by an ecologist and a social scientist, in conjunction with Rangwala, to develop narrative scenarios of future climate and its impacts. Next, the project scientists, in a collaborative process with land managers, will use these narrative scenarios to develop robust adaptation strategies that could work across these climate futures for a particular time horizon. Rangwala is developing “target-specific” climate scenarios for different systems targets selected in the project. This information will be collaboratively produced by integrating the expert and local knowledge of a specific target with the larger scale climate projections. It is expected that development of such information would be more actionable for the user community. Evaluate and improve methodologies for developing “actionable climate scenarios”: Rangwala has been working with Barsugli, Travis, Clifford, Betsy Neely (TNC), Renee Rondeau (Colorado Natural Heritage), Erin Towler (NCAR), Teresa Chapman (TNC), Laurie Young and Carina Wyborn (U. Montana), among others, to evaluate and improve the approach for developing more effective and actionable climate scenarios for resource management and conservation. Understanding local climate knowledge and its influence on decision making: Clifford designed a survey to probe local knowledge of climate and stakeholder climate information needs for application during a summer 2013 fieldwork season. The survey was approved by the university’s IRB for human subjects, and administered by Clifford in the field during July-August, 2013. Twenty-six of the 28 interviews were transcribed in their entirety using “intelligent verbatim” protocol to maintain the rich quality of each interview and correctly capture participants’ opinions and insights, while dispensing with non-essential words. These documents ranged from 1297 to 4310 words per interview transcript. Transcribed interviews were entered into the qualitative coding software, NVivo, and coded according hypotheses, interview topics and assumed themes. The a priori codes were built around the hypothesized structure of climate features, benchmarks and processes, that we expected interviewees to use when explaining experienced climate.

Deliverables: Direct guidance to TNC and its partners; AGU poster; K. Clifford Master’s Thesis
Leveraged Funding: $10,000 in travel and other support from TNC


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