On August 17-18, 2016, the North American Symposium on Climate Adaptation brought together practitioners from across the continent to discuss adaptation in a variety of systems from agriculture to resource-poor urban neighborhoods to coastal infrastructure. The USDA Climate Hubs were well represented, with members of the Northeast Hub (Dan Dostie, Lynn Knight), California Hub (Amber Kerr), and Northern Forests Hub (Todd Ontl) attending.
All Climate Hubs shared some of the successes and challenges they’ve had in trying to connect their stakeholders with adaptation advice. Todd Ontl described the user-driven, iterative framework behind their Forest Adaptation Workbook and presented data on forest managers’ adaptation activities. Dan Dostie emphasized the need to find “win-win-win” approaches that maximize climate benefits, ecosystem services, and economic profitability. Lynn Knight highlighted the role that Climate Hubs play in educating other USDA staff about climate change. And Amber Kerr (also presenting on behalf of Isabel Pares of the Caribbean Hub) described the issues involved in working with diverse farmers cultivating a variety of annual and perennial crops in an area with complex microclimates – a challenge that Puerto Rico and California both share.
The discussion at the “Climate Change and Agriculture” session of the Symposium reflected the fact that farmers’ major climate risks vary quite a bit according to where in North America they are located – for example, in California, the biggest concern is generally drought and limited water supply, whereas in the Northeast, excess or heavy precipitation is a major concern. However, at the moment, the Northeast is having its worst drought in many years. Stay tuned for more drought-related collaborations between the California Hub, the Northeast Hub, and other Hubs nationwide.
The symposium proceedings will be published in 2017 in the book “Climate Change Adaptation in North America: Experiences, Case Studies and Best Practices,” part of Springer’s Climate Change Management Series.