Human Adaptation to Climate Change in the Face of Forest Megadisturbances

Forests, which provide critical goods and services to society, will be greatly affected by changes in global precipitation and temperature patterns. Forest management and land use decisions by humans will interact with climate-driven change, exacerbating or ameliorating hazards and risks. However, despite substantial investments in modeling global climate change and local vegetation response, little work has been done to incorporate knowledge about human influences into models of climate impacts on forests to date. This interdisciplinary team of researchers from social and natural science and engineering fields will investiage the following actionable question: How can information about human behavior improve climate impact models to inform decision-making regarding adaptation?
 
A critical first step in investigating this question is identifying knowledge gaps and information needs. The team will pursue the following objectives:
 
  • Inventory the various ways that humans have been represented in models of climate impacts on terrestrial ecosystems;
  • Evaluate these approaches for their potential application in forest systems; and
  • Assess climate impact information needs among land management and socio-economic development organizations and agencies that seek to assist forest managers and forest-dependent communities with adaptation planning.
With a focus on the U.S. Great Lakes and Pacific Northwest regions, where sophisticated downscaled climate models project increasing wildfire, insect, disease, storm and droughtrelated stress in forests, the team will synthesize published research and research-inprogress and engage decision-makers in discussions of current and potential future information needs. 
 
Investigators
Alexandra Paige Fischer - School for Environment and Sustainability
Gretchen Keppel-Aleks - Department of Climate and Space Sciences and Engineering, College of Engineering
Seth Guikema - Department of Industrial Operations Engineering, College of Engineering
Bill Currie - School for Environment and Sustainability
Matthew Hamilton  - School for Environment and Sustainability
 
External Partners