News

New Report: Changing Fire Regimes and Management Strategies | 7.13.2017

In conjunction with SCIPP PI Dr. Mark Shafer, graduate student Darrian Bertrand wrote a report on Changing Fire Regimes and Management Strategies. Her research was funded by the South Central Climate Science Center (SC-CSC) and supported by SCIPP.

Fire is a natural and necessary component of the South Central Plains ecosystem. However, fire suppression and more frequent droughts in the region have resulted in a build-up of dry fuels loads such as dead wood, resulting in fires that burn hotter and impact the landscape more severely. Uncontrolled wildfires have cost the region several billion dollars in the past five years. Further, fire suppression has resulted in substantial losses in native plant biodiversity and wildlife habitat, which also has costly implications. In Oklahoma alone, it’s estimated that $157 million will be required to restore rangelands to their native conditions. Of further concern is the fact that projected changes in climate indicate that the region will continue to experience hotter and drier conditions, meaning that fire risks will continue to increase unless proper management strategies, such as prescribed fire, are implemented.

In order to develop effective fire management responses, ongoing research into the changing scope and intensity of fire regimes in the region needs to be better connected to management practitioners and their expertise.This project will help managers respond to changing fire regimes by analyzing historical climate observations and future projections to identify days which are suitable for prescribed burns as well as days of high wildfire potential.

Prescribed burning is a management tool used to reduce fuel loads and lessen the risk of severe wildland fire across the South Central Plains, but little is known about the change in weather conditions suitable for these days over time. To conduct a prescribed burn, weather conditions must be in a certain safety range. For example, there must be enough wind to start a fire and allow the smoke plume to disperse, but excessively strong winds would allow the fire to grow out of control. A rising issue is climate change, for if prescribed burns are only safe within a distinct threshold, then changing climate conditions may alter this small window of opportunity. This project documents the seasonal and inter-annual variability of suitable burn conditions across the South Central Plains region of Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas. Prescribed Burn Associations from the included states were contacted for minimum and maximum thresholds of temperature, wind speed, and relative humidity in order to obtain the appropriate values for data analysis. Hourly data for the time period of 1996-2015 were analyzed in order to produce a climatological analysis of burn conditions, and a glimpse into future conditions indicates a potential change in the frequency of these suitable burn conditions by the end of the century.

The full report is available in the SCIPP Documents section of our website. It can also be found here: http://www.southernclimate.org/documents/Changing_Fire_Regimes.pdf.

NOAA NCEI State Climate Summaries Available | 5.30.2017

Following the release of the Third U.S. National Climate Assessment in 2014, demand grew for state-specific climate summary documents. In response, NOAA’s National Center for Environmental Information (NCEI, formerly NCDC), in conjunction with input from state climatologists and other climate experts, produced summaries that cover historical climate conditions and future climate scenarios based on well-established sources. The documents also showcase some unique climate information for each state. For example, storm surge and sea level rise are discussed in the Louisiana document and winter storms are covered in Tennessee’s. Each state’s summary can be downloaded for free at StateClimateSummaries.globalchange.gov. The summaries for each of the six SCIPP states are available at the following links:

Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, Tennessee, Mississippi


Field Photo Weekends: Memorial Day Weekend May 27-29, 2017 | 5.16.2017

“Field Photo Weekends” May 27-29 . . . Celebrate Memorial Day Weekend by taking a photo or two!

Here’s your chance to join hundreds of other CoCoRaHS observers to see what our landscapes look like in spring. If you have participated before, this is a great chance to go back to your favorite spots and see what has changed. All you have to do is:

* Take your camera or smartphone;

* Find a landscape in your community (streams, lakes, rivers, reservoirs, a forest, a crop field, a pasture, etc.);

* Take a single photo or a panorama in four different directions (N,E,S,W) from where you are standing. And then take one looking down.

There are four ways to post your photos:

* Use the “Field Photo” App on your phone, which can be downloaded from the “Apple Store” and “Google Play Store”. Enter metadata to describe the landscape and add #CoCoRaHSMay2017 as a keyword;

* Email your photos with your location to:fieldphotos@southernclimate.org. When uploading your photos, please include the words #CoCoRaHSMay2017 in the notes field. Remember you don’t have to email your photos this weekend, just take them, but we do encourage you to email them soon afterward;

* Upload your photos directly to the (EOMF) Earth Observation and Modeling Facility’s photo archive website: http://www.eomf.ou.edu/photos

* Or post your photos on your phone or online to our new partners at iSeeChange.org, a climate and weather journal that collects stories about change.

Field Photo Weekend is a partnership between CoCoRaHS, the Southern Climate Impacts Planning Program (SCIPP) and the Earth Observation and Modeling Facility (EOMF) to help ground truth through photos, what is going on with our landscapes throughout the country. It’s not just drought we are looking for either, it could be flooding, fire, or whatever state the landscape is now in. There is the possibility that we may hold additional “Field Photo Weekends” during the year to show how conditions to your landscape may have changed over time. This should be fun!

In a few weeks this weekend’s photos will be posted and you’ll be able to see your photos and those taken by other volunteers. Reference the “FIELD PHOTO WEEKENDS” page to see how to view the photos.

Remember you don’t have to email your photos this weekend, just take them, but we do encourage you to email them soon afterward. That address again is: fieldphotos@southernclimate.org. When uploading your photos please include the words #CoCoRaHSMay17 in the notes field.

Thanks in advance for participating during the Memorial Day weekend ... thanks for snapping!

President’s Day Field Photo Weekends Feb. 18-20, 2017 | 2.2.2017

“Field Photo Weekends” February 18-20 . . . Celebrate President’s Day Weekend by taking a photo or two!

What does your landscape look like in mid-winter? Have you participated in the CoCoRaHS Field Photos Weekends before? If not, here’s your chance to join hundreds of other CoCoRaHS observers to see what our landscapes looks like. If you have participated before, this is a great chance to go back to your favorite spots and see what has changed. On President’s Day Weekend, February 18-20, you can help by participating in our “Field Photo Weekends”.

For each Field Photo Weekend, we ask citizen scientists to take pictures of the land around them - water bodies, fields, forests, or any other facet of our environment - at roughly the same time. These events began in 2012 and have continued over Presidents Day and Memorial Day, Fourth of July, and Labor Day ever since. For more information, see a short animated video explaining what we measure and why.

All you have to do is take your camera or smartphone, find a landscape in your community (streams, lakes, rivers, reservoirs, a forest, a crop field, a pasture, etc.) and take a single photo or a panorama in four different directions (N, E, S, W) from where you are standing. After that you can either email your photos with your location to: fieldphotos@southernclimate.org, or upload them directly to the Earth Observation and Modeling Facility’s photo archive website: “http://www.eomf.ou.edu/photos”. For detailed instructions, click here: “FIELD PHOTO WEEKENDS

If you have a GPS smartphone, you can use the “Field Photo” app, which is now freely available in the “Apple Store” and “Google Play Store”. You can use your smartphone to take a photo in the field, enter metadata to describe the landscape, and then upload the photo and metadata into the EOMF photo archive website directly from your phone when you have access to WI-FI. When your enter metadata, you may also add “#CoCoRaHSFeb17” keyword.

If you want to see what others have submitted before, go to Global Geo-Referenced Field Photo Library, do a search by a keyword “CoCoRaHS” and/or date, and click on any of the dots.

Field Photo Weekend is a partnership between CoCoRaHS, the Southern Climate Impacts Planning Program (SCIPP) and the Earth Observation and Modeling Facility (EOMF) to help ground truth through photos, what is going on with our landscapes throughout the country. It’s not just drought we are looking for either, it could be flooding, fire, or whatever state the landscape is now in. There is the possibility that we may hold additional “Field
Photo Weekends” during the year to show how conditions to your landscape may have changed over time. This should be fun!

In a few weeks this weekend’s photos will be posted and you’ll be able to see your photos and those taken by other volunteers. Reference the “FIELD PHOTO WEEKENDS” page to see how to view the photos.

Remember you don’t have to email your photos this weekend, just take them, but we do encourage you to email them soon afterward. That address again is: fieldphotos@southernclimate.org. When uploading your photos please include the words #CoCoRaHSFeb17 in the notes field.

Thanks in advance for participating during the President’s Day weekend!

Texas and Oklahoma Extremes: Learning from Recent Four-Year Drought and Spring Flooding Events | 9.14.2016

A new report is available for the Texas and Oklahoma Extremes Workshop.

In October of 2015, representatives from state and federal agencies representing broad areas of water, public safety, infrastructure and other management participated in the workshop, Texas and Oklahoma Extremes: Learning from the Recent Four-Year Drought and Spring Flooding Events. This event was sponsored by NOAA’s National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS), the Southern Climate Impacts Planning Program (SCIPP), the National Weather Service Southern Region, NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) and the National Drought Mitigation Center (NDMC). This workshop was a NIDIS Southern Plains Drought Early Warning System (DEWS) activity with the goal of improving disaster reduction and building capacity for better decision-making relating to drought planning and mitigation.

The workshop focused on the successes, challenges, lessons learned, and opportunities for future collaboration related to the recent 2010-2015 drought and spring 2015 flood events. The workshop included presentations and discussions about the shift from extreme drought to floods in 2015 and tactics the participants’ agencies used to manage the impacts of those events. Discussions specifically focused on monitoring tools, agency coordination, unexpected impacts, successes and public outreach.

The report can be found here.