Conservation Partners connecting working lands conservation from the Gulf of Mexico to the High Plains with the vision of a sustainable landscape of natural resources resilient to the threats and stressors associated with our changing world.

(903) 570-9626
Conservation Coordinator 

Addressing Climate Change in the Southern Great Plains

Date: 12/08/17

I. National Climate Assessment 4

What is all that chatter about the recent climate report and the strong points of climate that have clashed with political thinking?  Rather than direct you towards the entire assessment, I think you would be best served to focus on the Southern Great Plains Chapter of the National Climate Assessment, or NCA4.


What does NCA4 and our region – the Southern Great Plains chapter mean to YOU? Fifteen years ago when someone asked me about climate change, I laughed and discounted the discussion – my response, not a problem!  Then I became direct witness to some real issues in the Great Lakes region where dramatic shifts in range use and habitat conditions for many species were occurring – all because of changing climate.  I also learned the difference between weather, extreme weather, and climate.  Well – fast forward and now I find myself as Coordinating Lead Author of the Southern Great Plains chapter of NCA4.  My oh My, what a difference time makes!  So, again, what does this climate discussion and NCA4 mean to YOU?


Over the past year, our Southern Great Plains team of 15+ have worked diligently to develop a chapter focused on SGP geography and Key Climate cons=cerns affdecting the resources and people of this region.  As SGP coordinating Lead Author, my job was simple, due to the high-caliber of key professionals like team members Cindy Loeffler, Mark Shafer and David Brown participating, along with our true leader Chapter Lead Kevin Kloesel of University of Oklahoma.  We have developed our chapter around 5 Key Topics:

1: The region’s growing population and resource contention for food, energy and water

2: Infrastructure and the built environment

3: terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems

4: Climate and health threats

5: Tribal nations and indigenous.


I encourage you to look through NCA4 and offer any comments during this open review process.  I especially would like your scrutiny of the Southern Great Plains regional chapter.  The following is the Link to NCA4 review:


Background on NCA4 - The Fourth National Climate Assessment (NCA4) builds upon the most recent assessment (NCA3 and CSSR) and is being led by a Federal Steering Committee composed of members from USGCRP member agencies. NCA4 will expand the content within regional chapters while shorter, national overview chapters of key sectors and topics will summarize content from the regional chapters and highlight national-scale issues.


A robust and diverse set of Chapter Authors will play a critical role in the development of the NCA. Chapter Authors work closely with a Chapter Lead (CL) responsible for naming an author team, delegating writing assignments and the overall day-to-day development of a regional chapter (i.e., “vertical integration”). The CL, in turn, will work closely with a Coordinating Lead Author (CLA), who will consult directly with the CL on the chapter’s development, while working with CLAs from all chapters to ensure that the report is coherent and consistent as a whole (i.e., “horizontal integration”). USGCRP’s National Coordination Office staff and NOAA’s Technical Support Unit (TSU) will support the chapter team in all aspects of the NCA4 process over the next two years.


II. Southern Climate Impacts Planning Program – SCIPP

The Southern Climate Impacts Planning Program (SCIPP) is a south central United States-focused climate hazards and research program whose mission is to increase the region’s resiliency and level of preparedness for weather extremes now and in the future.  One of the most valued and productive partner relationships that came forward in 2011 with the GCP LCC was the SCIPP – through Mark Shafer our partnership has found valuable and real life connections among extreme events, climate, and people that depend on that knowledge to manage the land.  SCIPP, through Mark, “hit the mark” in 2011 and 2012 allowing all of us to be of value to conservation partners during the drought and subsequent wildfires.  Timely webinars occurred (such as one which showcased loss of water for rice farmers and waterfowl), agricultural/ranch workshops were convened, and the OK Mesonet and OK FIRE became a tool of choice by many conservation groups in OK.


Bill Bartush, David Brown and others recently participated in the 5-year review of the SCIPP program and we focused on the climate change predictions-come-true scenarios of the past few years, such as extensive “1,000” year floods impacting many communities and resources (Read about increasing variability of precipitation in Southern Great Plains found through the SCIPP website link).  Efforts to communicate and raise awareness to improve resilience to these changes were highly debated, resulting in several themes that will be integrated into the future efforts of SCIPP.  These include “Future Water Resources affected by Climate Change”; “Frequency-intensity of storm hazards change in various climate scenarios”; “Improving drought monitoring and preparedness for communities, agricultural producers, and agencies”; and “Encouraging dialogue on hazards and climate change to reduce vulnerabilities in communities, coastal zones and economic sectors.”


III. SC CSC  Five-year Review

The preliminary Findings for another 5-year review of the South Central Climate Science Center on November 16, 2017 clearly indicated there was phenomenal support from the host university in Norman, and based on previous reviews, it's safe to say it would be difficult to be replicated elsewhere (due to excellent engagement by faculty lines, space, financial support).  One recommendation discussed the need to ensure retention /sustainability of current leadership as well as ensuring that others will want to serve the university in similar positions by rewarding them appropriately. Though the University has a strategic interest in becoming an organization of excellence in climate and local adaptation, future success will depend on the degree to which they also adjust expectations and rewards for faculty.


Key Points Identified by the Review Team

Program Development

Actionable Science

Education and Training

Stakeholder involvement