The preponderance of scientific evidence suggest that climate change is a reality that we will need to address as we move into the next millennium. Scientists predict that a changing climate will impact society and the environment in a diversity of ways – from extremes in rainfall, more severe and/or prolonged droughts in some regions, effect food crop yields, and cause changes to forests and other ecosystem functions. SIG can help characterize a community’s exposure to the effects of climate change and provide adaptation strategies by offering the following services.
Spatial climate data (including downscaled GCMs) is being widely used for many purposes. Few of these products have been analyzed to evaluate their potential for use in research and decision-making, but they come with significant caveats and resolution-realism trade-offs. Most existing analyses of climate trends are coarse-scale over time and space, and provide little insight on local changes that may affect ecological, economic and cultural assets. High resolution climate analysis and mapping provides a capability to understand and evaluate complex changes at local scales and how they vary across landscapes.
SIG provides climate change analysis and mapping services that incorporate high-quality peer-reviewed spatial climate data products, advanced statistical techniques and visualizations that are both intuitive and interactive. This work provides a foundation for additional SIG services focused on risk assessment, ecosystem services and climate adaptation planning, using a spatial (GIS) framework for merging information, models and expert knowledge. We also offer climate analysis outputs and maps and can generate custom data products and maps.
SIG combines climate change maps and risk factor modeling to establish relationships between past climatic variation and risk/loss due to fire, flooding, extreme temperatures, droughts, thaw-freeze cycles (late frosts) and other natural hazards. Marginal impacts on economic sectors (agriculture, energy) and cultural assets (recreation) can also be evaluated. Future risks are projected using downscaled climate model forecasts, risk factor models and scenarios of change in related factors. Outputs from this work feed directly into mitigation planning.
SIG enables and supports climate adaptation planning by projecting future changes in climate and climate-sensitive factors (e.g., species habitat ranges, risk of natural hazards, agricultural yields and energy use) using models and scenarios. Our approach uses scenario ensembles to explore alternative future outcomes and to more effectively incorporate uncertainty into the climate adaptation planning process.