Office of the Climate Change Advisor
The many benefits we receive from forests and grasslands - provisioning services such as water, wood, and wild foods; regulating services such as erosion, flood, and climate control; and cultural services such as outdoor recreation, spiritual renewal, and aesthetic enjoyment - are threatened by climate change. The Climate Change Advisor is the primary spokesperson for the Forest Service on climate change and leads the implementation of the nationwide strategy for weaving climate change response into policies, processes, and partnerships.
Engaging a Climate Change Ready Agency
February 28, 2014
Climate change is probably the most important issue facing our children and grandchil-dren, and the generations to follow. If you read the newspaper or watch the news, you’re probably becoming aware that our world is changing in ways that affect us all. Reports of record-breaking weather, drought, wildfires, floods, extreme weather events, and ice melt have taken a prominent place in the daily news. Whatever our politics, or world views, all of us want the best for our children and future generations. The best way to the future that we desire for our kids is to acknowledge and begin to tackle this problem.
January 31, 2014
Happy New Year to one and all! We hope everyone managed to stay warm over the past few weeks through the “polar bear” type weather that plagued almost half of the lower 48 states. Unfortunately and unsurprisingly, climate change skeptics are pointing to the record cold weather and snowfall as evidence that the climate isn’t changing. While these temperatures are definitely one for the books, even the cold snap we just went through doesn’t change the overall warming we are seeing worldwide.
November 29, 2013
This climate newsletter is one example of the efforts made by Forest Service scientists and resource professionals to communicate the latest information and technological developments within the global climate change community. We regularly utilize a wide variety of means to make connections among networks to share news, results, ideas and opportunities so that we may all grow our understanding to this most important, complex, consequential issue. As a group we work across agencies, across disciplines, across geography and boundaries: we are a well-meshed box of gears. But where is this box driving?
October 31, 2013
It’s report card season here in the Climate Change Advisor’s Office! The National Forests and Grasslands recently completed their third annual Scorecard assessment. For those who aren’t familiar, the Climate Change Performance Scorecard is a way for each national forest and grassland to measure its progress from 2011-2015 by describing accomplishments toward a “yes” answer to ten questions in four dimensions – organizational capacity, engagement, adaptation, and mitigation.
The ten questions about employee education, designated climate change coordinators, program guidance, science and management partnerships, other partnerships, assessing vulnerability, adaptation actions, monitoring, carbon assessment and stewardship and sustainable operations are designed to improve our readiness to respond to climate change. By 2015, each unit is expected to answer yes to at least seven of the scorecard questions, with at least one yes in each dimension. Great news is that forty-nine percent of units already met this expectation by 2013!!
September 30th, 2013
The frequency, severity, and extent of wildfire are strongly linked to climate. In a warming climate, we are experiencing earlier snowmelt, lower summer soil moisture and fuel moisture, more drought, and longer fire seasons. Collectively, these conditions have led to increases in fire extent and challenges for land managers.
Increasing temperatures and changes in precipitation and snowmelt patterns are increasing the severity and size of wildfires in the West, especially in northern latitudes, including Alaska. Much of the West has experienced prolonged drought in the last decade. Florida, Georgia, Utah, California, Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, and Colorado have all experienced their largest and/or most destructive fires in history in the last six years.
August 30th, 2013
Sustainability is at the heart of the Forest Service mission “to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of the Nation’s forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations.” Living on a planet with a changing climate and serving as public stewards of our National Forests and Grasslands in a fiscally-constrained environment requires our collective creativity to honor our commitment to sustainability. We must connect our stewardship when “caring for the land” with practices that reduce our consumption and environmental footprint, thus serving as a model to others. The direct relationship between the planet’s healthy lands and our faucets, heating systems, modes of transportation and other goods and services has never been more apparent or important.
July 31st, 2013
On June 25, in sweltering Washington DC heat and humidity, President Obama delivered a momentous address on the need to deal with climate change. With his speech, came a government wide plan for executive actions and heightened emphasis on dealing with compelling risks and opportunities of a changing climate. Forests and grasslands -the ecosystems we and our partners manage and protect -are woven throughout the plan and are positioned as part of the solution.
June 28th, 2013
The US Forest Service R&D recently published a comprehensive synthesis of the effects of climate change on U.S. Forests. The report, led and edited by Forest Service scientists Jim Vose, Dave Peterson, and Toral Patel-Weynand, was written by a team of experts from federal agencies, universities, and NGO’s, and served as the primary technical input document in support of the 2013 National Climate Assessment. The report examines biophysical, social, and economic consequences of changing climate on forests, and discusses management options that could mitigate undesirable impacts and help forests adapt to climate change. Because climate change effects and management responses can vary regionally, the report includes a section that highlights regional impacts and issues.
May 31st, 2013
“A nation that destroys its soils destroys itself. Forests are the lungs of our land, purifying the air and giving fresh strength to our people.” These words by Franklin D. Roosevelt mark the importance of our forests and the connection forests afford us mentally, physically, spiritually
And economically...The use of forest products in the United States now supports well over 1 million direct jobs and contributes more than $100 billion to the U.S. Gross Domestic Product. Wood products including small diameter trees and dead trees, obtained through sustainable forestry practices and used in green building applications promote a healthy environment and strong economy. This process returns revenue to land managers to treat ecosystems devastated by fire, insects, pathogens or invasive species and provides sustainable homes for us all. So, what’s happening at the USDA in this regard?
April 30th, 2013
No truer words have been spoken than when ecologist Frank Egler said, “Ecosystems are not only more complex than we think, they are more complex than we can think.” “This should lead us to be cautious, and a little bit humble (former Forest Service Chief Jack Ward Thomas).”
Forests are attached to us in ways that far exceed our understanding. They not only provide us a place to connect with nature and find solace, but also play an integral role in the carbon cycle – a cycle that is fundamental to our survival and for everything around us.
March 26th, 2013
The country’s leaders are talking about climate change – from Chief Tidwell to Secretary Vilsack to Vice President Biden to President Obama. Climate change messages from Administration officials have been widespread since the beginning of 2013. Why? Was it the fact that the United States experienced a record breaking 14 weather disasters in 2011, or that approximately 2 million acres were burned by wildfires in the United States during July 2012 alone, or that 2012 was the hottest year on record? Whatever the reason, these messages signal a re-emergence of interest in the changing climate and encourage us all to talk about, learn about, and act on climate change.
More News from the Climate
- Our Changing Climate... A Clear and Present Reason for Restoration
- Getting Straight to the Good Stuff
- Going to Extremes
- Results of the Scorecard 2011 Baseline Assessment
- Managing Risk: Key to Climate Change Adaptation
- The Challenge of Wildland Fire Management in an Era of Climate Change
- The Way We Talk About Climate Change– 5/25/2011
- Preliminary Scorecard Responses Are In – 04/26/2011
- Increasing Our Shared Understanding – 03/02/2011
- Assessing Our Progress – 02/02/2011
- Carbon Matters Too – 12/8/2010
- Preserving the Northwoods Landscape for Future Generations – 10/4/2010
- "Building in" a balanced response to climate change... and being accountable – 08/31/2010
- Getting Organized – 7/7/2010
- Becoming a Climate Ready Conservation Agency– 6/4/2010
The Climate Change Resource Center (CCRC) provides information and tools to land managers to address climate change in project planning and implementation. The CCRC offers educational information, decision-support models, maps, simulations, case studies, and toolkits.