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USGS launches National Climate Change Viewer

US: Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell has unveiled the National Climate Change Viewer, a climate-visualisation website tool from the Interior Department’s US Geological Survey. The new tool gives citizens and resource managers the opportunity to look at climate-driven impacts on watersheds and map projected changes at the local, regional, state and watershed levels.

Jewell’s announcement follows on the heels of the release of the Third National Climate Assessment, a comprehensive scientific assessment ever generated of climate change and its impacts across every region of America and major sectors of the US economy. The assessment found that multiple stresses on water supplies are becoming serious challenges in many regions, with the impacts cascading across sectors including agriculture and energy.

The U.S. Geological Survey developed the National Climate Change Viewer in collaboration with the College of Earth, Oceanic and Atmospheric Sciences at Oregon State University.

This is the second phase of the National Climate Change Viewer project, which aims to make climate model results more accessible and understandable. In the first phase, the climate change viewer provided information on projected temperature and precipitation for the United States, states and counties through the 21st century in 25-year periods as part of an effort to visualize some climate model simulations being used by the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) Fifth Assessment Report.

In this second phase, the climate change viewer has been expanded to provide information on associated projected changes in snowpack, soil moisture, runoff and evaporative deficit for US states and counties and for USGS Hydrologic Units or watersheds as simulated by a simple water-balance model. The model provides a way to simulate the response of the water balance to changes in temperature and precipitation in the climate models. Combining the climate data with the water balance data provides further insights into the potential for climate-driven change in water resources.

The National Climate Change Viewer and data are already being used by federal agencies, including the USGS and the National Park Service, to examine the potential effects of climate change on aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems in the Greater Yellowstone Area and elsewhere.

Source: US Department of Interior