Sunday, January 22, 2012

Climate plan aims to help ecosystems adapt to change

Staci Matlock in the Santa Fe New Mexican: The debate over the causes of climate change continues to rage, but federal, state and tribal agencies aren't waiting around for the argument to be settled. They believe climate change is here, and they're working on ways to help wildlife, land and communities adapt. Two federal agencies and a state wildlife department have developed a broad plan for helping ecosystems become more resilient as the climate changes.

The National Fish, Wildlife and Plants Climate Adaptation Strategy was released Friday by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the New York Division of Fish and Wildlife and Marine Resources. The public has until March 5 to comment on the plan.

"Climate change is already here," according to the coalition's website. "It is clear from current trends and future projections that we are now committed to a certain amount of changes and impacts, making climate adaptation planning a critical part of responding to this complex challenge."

Massive wildfires, rising sea levels and increasing numbers of catastrophic natural disasters such as floods and drought are all symptoms of a changing climate, according to scientists. While all those events have happened repeatedly in the past, the severity and frequency of them in the last decade are what worry climate watchers.

Impacts of climate change vary by region. In the Southwest, scientists are seeing a long-term trend toward less snowpack in the mountains, faster snowmelts, warmer winter night temperatures and drier summers.

....The website for the Wildlife Adaptation Strategy is packed with the latest studies, international reports and information on what states and tribes are doing to plan for climate change. One link ( goes to the Climate Adaptation Knowledge Exchange, where groups and governments can check out what other communities are doing....

The White Sands National Monument, shot by David Jones, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Generic license

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