Quarterly Climate Impacts and Outlook - Summer 2013, a document highlighting drought and climate in the West
Emerging scientific research indicates that the Western U.S. will be disproportionately impacted by climate variability and change. This is due to the natural topographical and geographical diversity of the region combined with a surge in population growth.
The Western Governors and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) are working together to improve the development, coordination and dissemination of weather and climate information for resource management decision making in Western states.
The Western Governors' Association and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) collaborate on a Western Quarterly Climate Impacts and Outlook aimed at assisting policymakers as they prepare for drought and other extreme weather events.
The Outlook highlights trends in temperature, precipitation, and climate in the West. Maps of projections for continued drought are included to help state officials and other managers in their planning efforts.
In addition, NOAA has produced a series of Outlooks that focus more closely on regions that include WGA member states:
Previous versions of the Outlook:
In 2010, WGA issued a climate adaptation report that emphasizes the need for coordination between state and federal efforts to identify key science that is Western specific and begins to share and implement smart practices.
WGA and NOAA are convening regional forums to bring together leading practitioners and policy makers to address weather and climate risk. Government agencies and the private sector have a long history of responding to weather and climate uncertainty. However, increased population and development, coupled with extreme weather events and long-term climate trends, have exposed significant vulnerabilities that must be addressed. Preparing for weather and climate risk is an emerging and rapidly evolving field; this forum served to connect science with decision-making in new and sustainable ways in order to protect our economy and quality of life.
The Governors advocate the creation of a comprehensive national drought policy. Such a policy would support a proactive approach toward drought and water shortages at all levels of government and the private sector. Given that droughts are predicted to be more frequent and with greater intensity in the West under climate warming scenarios, a national drought policy would provide a sound basis for adaptation. WGA produced a report on drought preparedness in 2011 which addresses these issues in more depth.
The WGA Forest Health Advisory Committee has developed a subcommittee specifically working on Climate Change/Adaptation, focusing on forest lands. The subcommittee is identifying priorities and action items to address the concerns of the governors in the area of forest and rangeland health.
The Western Governors formed the Western Governors’ Wildlife Council to work in partnership with federal agencies, industry and NGOs, to identify key wildlife corridors and crucial wildlife habitats in the West and make recommendations on needed policy options and tools for preserving those landscapes. Included in this identification should be research to understand climate change impacts to crucial habitat and wildlife corridors, and necessary steps should be taken to support adaptation to climate change.