Building a regional Climate Database: Applications for Research, Collaboration, and Public Engagement

- Indicates paper has been withdrawn from meeting
- Indicates an Award Winner
Monday, 5 January 2015: 5:00 PM
226C (Phoenix Convention Center - West and North Buildings)
Ben McMahan, CLIMAS, Tucson, AZ

The borderlands region of Southern Arizona and Southwestern New Mexico is home to a diverse array of ecological systems found along a wide elevational gradient, and includes plants that serve as critical habitat for native birds, insects, and mammals. Climate variability and ongoing drought conditions have the potential to alter temperature and precipitation patterns, with implications for the stability of these systems as the geographic ranges of plants are altered or constricted (especially in the sky islands). Changes in phenology, in particular flowering time for pollinators, and senescence windows for seed consuming organisms, can be especially disruptive, and pose significant challenges to agencies and organizations working in regional restoration ecology and wildlife management. Monitoring these changes require, at a minimum, monthly temperature and precipitation data at a smaller spatial resolution than is currently widely available for the region.

This presentation details the collaboration between CLIMAS, and a small network of researchers and community members involved in ongoing ecological assessment and monitoring efforts. Key players include Borderlands Restoration ( restoration ecology organization focused on restoring ecological systems in southern Arizona) the Hummingbird Monitoring Network (a non-profit working on hummingbird related ecological concerns), and a botanist from the National Parks Service who works closely with both groups. The focus of the collaboration is communication between climate researchers and ecologists, and the design of a regional climate database that is accessible to non-climatologists, but is also a robust analytical tool for the analysis of phenological patterns. We are interested in how this database would be used by non-climate specialists to explore their own analytical questions tied to climate patterns, how model outputs and weather visualizations could be used for education and outreach, and how these interactions could facilitate input from citizen scientists or other non-climatologists tracking phenological and land-cover changes in the region. This presentation will cover the current state of the collaboration, the outputs and interactions that have resulted to date, an assessment of efficacy regarding engagement with a broader public in climate science, and directions for future research and collaboration identified and prioritized by this collaboration.