Washington Connected Landscapes Project: An Evaluation of the Utility of Fine-Scale, Downscaled Climate Projections for Connectivity Conservation Planning

This study, conducted by the Washington Wildlife Habitat Connectivity Working Group, analyzed the usefulness of downscaled temperature and precipitation projections for informing habitat connectivity conservation planning. The goal of the study was to determine whether downscaled climate projections could help identify habitat corridors that are most resilient to climate change and should be prioritized for conservation investment decisions.

The research team developed downscaled projections for temperature and precipitation and evaluated the utility of these projections based on magnitude of proposed change, level of uncertainty, and added value of the downscaled approaches as opposed to alternative approaches such as Global Climate Model (GCM) projections. The appendices of the report describe the data sources and method for developing the fine-scale projections for Washington.

The study found that statistically downscaled models had added value – particularly for temperature projections, which had relatively small uncertainty – compared to GCM projections, but that downscaled data would be most reliable at the ecoregional scale compared to finer spatial scales. Dynamically downscaled models were found to provide much finer-scale detail needed for comparing vulnerability among habitat corridors. The study also found that “downstream” models, which translate climate variables to other response variables of interest such as snowpack and fire, provide additional value for assessing finer-scale vulnerabilities across connectivity networks.

The Washington Wildlife Habitat Connectivity Working Group is a science-based partnership that is composed of participants representing land and natural resource management agencies, organizations, tribes, and universities. The working group is co-led by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Washington Department of Transportation.

Publication Date: June 2013

Related Organizations:

  • Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife
  • Washington State Department of Transportation

Sectors:

Resource Category:

Resource Types:

  • Assessment

States Affected:

Impacts:

  • Air temperature
  • Precipitation changes

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