The presentation reveals an innovative, interdisciplinary research technique for approaching climate change vulnerability that’s called Multi-scale, Interactive Scenario-Building (MISB). The project focuses on two geographic case studies: Big Hole Valley in Montana – a high-altitude ranching valley – and Grand County in Colorado – a resort community west of Denver and south of Rocky Mountain National Park.
...The researchers posed three scenarios involving future drastic climate changes. The one-on-one interviews involved around 30 people for each region, ranging from ranchers to teachers, small business owners, hunting guides, county planners and representatives from federal and state agencies. Ecologists on the research team would then predict the impact of the suggested planning. The three possible scenarios were:
- Some Like it Hot – Describes years and years of consistent summer drought.
- The Seasons, They’re a-Changing – Describes changes in seasonality, such as significantly increased rainfall in the spring.
- Feast or Famine – Describes big swings in temperature and precipitation between years.
“Areas like the Big Hole depend on snow to irrigate their hayfields,” explains Murphy, “so little snowfall could pose a big problem. Not only does it affect their hay crop, but in a region with the Arctic Grayling, a candidate for endangered listing, the water shortage would affect wildlife. Because of these scenarios, more groups were open to conservation efforts. All community interests were able to see the benefits of conservation efforts.”
...A lot of research in this area tends to focus on past vulnerability or past adaptation, and from my perspective, that’s come and gone. The real opportunities lie in the future, and we’re examining how city planners, urban planners and extension agents can utilize our research in future decision-making,” says Murphy...
Big Hole Pass in Big Hole Valley, Idaho, shot by Spend A Day Touring, LLC, Wikimedia Commons via Flickr, under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license