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ARS Home » Plains Area » Las Cruces, New Mexico » Range Management Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #329219

Title: County-level climate change information to support decision-making on working lands within USDA Climate Hub regions

item Elias, Emile
item SCHRADER, T. SCOTT - New Mexico State University
item ABATZOGLOU, JOHN - University Of Idaho
item James, Darren
item CRIMMINS, MIKE - University Of Arizona
item WEISS, JEREMY - University Of Arizona
item Rango, Albert

Submitted to: Climatic Change
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 7/17/2017
Publication Date: 8/28/2017
Citation: Elias, E.H., Schrader, T., Abatzoglou, J.T., James, D.K., Crimmins, M., Weiss, J., Rango, A. 2017. County-level climate change information to support decision-making on working lands within USDA Climate Hub regions. Climatic Change. 148(3):355-369.

Interpretive Summary: We developed a county-level data set showing expected changes in temperature and precipitation by mid-century (2040-2069). We also provide a standard deviation metric to allow data users to decide of the average projection is appropraite for decision-making, or if more spatially detailed information is necessary. Data use examples for forage and almonds are provided as examples. Data are provided as maps and data tables online to facilitate ease-of-use in adaptation planning and decision-making.

Technical Abstract: Farmers, ranchers and forest landowners across the United States (US) make weather- and climate-related management decisions at varying temporal and spatial scales, often with input from local experts like crop consultants and Cooperative Extension (CE) personnel. In order to provide additional guidance particular to such longer-term planning efforts, we developed a tool that shows statistically downscaled climate projections of temperature and precipitation that are consolidated to the county level for the contiguous US. Using the county as a fundamental mapping unit encourages the use of this information within existing institutional structures like CE and other U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) programs. Key to this tool is a ‘quick-look’ metric based on the standard deviation (SD) of pixels within each county to aid interpretation of county-level information. For instance, relatively higher SD values for a county indicate that localized information should be used to support stakeholder planning. Counties of the northern US exhibit increased future annual precipitation while counties of southern regions have declines. Seasonal shifts in county-level precipitation are evident nation-wide with declines most evident in summer months in most regions. In most counties, the change in annual precipitation SD was less than 10mm, indicating fairly spatially homogenous midcentury precipitation changes in variability at the county-level. Annual and seasonal midcentury temperatures increase in all counties had low variance in temperature change (<0.3°C) across counties. We present data use examples for forage and almond applications, both indicating a potential decline in production in some future years, to illustrate use of county-level seasonal projections in adaptation planning and decision-making.