Monday, April 28, 2014

Climate Change and Conservation – Visualizing Our Future

By Tom Greco, Communications Specialist

Land and water managers in the Bay Area can now better prepare for the impacts of a shifting climate thanks to new research released by Pepperwood’s TBC3 (Terrestrial Biodiversity Climate Change Collaborative). TBC3 co-chair and UC Berkeley professor Dr. David Ackerly will share highlights of this ground-breaking research at a free lecture on Friday, May 2, 2014 at Pepperwood.  The lecture begins at 7pm, preceded by an open house and light refreshments starting at 6:30pm. No advance registration is required. For directions please visit
View of morning fog and the Mayacamas Mountains facing north as seen from Pepperwood's Three Tree Hill

Pepperwood’s TBC3 is a group of over 30 interdisciplinary scientists producing research that may just change the face of conservation planning in our region.  By “downscaling” the most widely-recognized international climate projections, TBC3 has created a set of high-resolution climate futures for the 10 Bay Area counties that include the most recent data from the International Panel on Climate Change released mid-April. This means that land and water managers can now see how climate variables like precipitation or temperature are likely to change over time for their local areas of interest. 
Screen capture from the Bay Area Open Space Council's
Conservation Lands Network Explorer website, which
now hosts the new research released by TBC3

Users can choose from a range of different climate scenarios, such as ones that assume higher or lower rates of global carbon dioxide emissions. The potential uses for TBC3’s research include long term planning for water resources, open spaces, agriculture, and emergency preparedness.  Sonoma and its neighboring counties have just been awarded a “Climate Ready” grant from the California Coastal Conservancy to apply TBC3 data to local government’s efforts to prepare for potential climate change impacts.

At his lecture on May 2, Dr. Ackerly will draw on his background in plant ecology and TBC3’s latest research to describe the potential impacts of climate change on Bay Area forests, chapparal and grasslands. How are the Bay Area’s landscapes likely to change, and will the native plants we are familiar with be able successfully adapt to changes that will occur? Dr. Ackerly will also discuss the new long-term research plots at Pepperwood designed to monitor forest change over time. Dr. Ackerly recently partnered with the Santa Rosa Junior College on a National Science Foundation proposal to engage local college students in this “Climate Smart” research at Pepperwood.

Dr. Ackerly (left) and TBC3 researchers survey a location at
Pepperwood for one of 50 long-term forest monitoring plots 
Dr. Ackerly is a professor in the Department of Integrative Biology at UC Berkeley and co-chair of TBC3. His lab studies plant ecology and evolution, with an emphasis on the native plants of California. His current work examines potential impacts of climate change on biodiversity conservation and land management, with a focus on the Bay Area. Dr. Ackerly is developing a new model that provides a probabilistic approach to modeling patterns of vegetation in California, and how these patterns may shift in the face of climate change.

Pepperwood is a leader in forging solutions to advance the health of Northern California’s land, water and wildlife.  Pepperwood’s Dwight Center for Conservation Science produces cutting-edge research, provides comprehensive environmental education for all ages, and facilitates an innovative citizen science initiative. We use our 3,200 acre nature preserve as a living laboratory to engage students, volunteers, and scientists in applied conservation. Our singular focus is applying science to safeguard the future of nature for generations to come.

Pepperwood is located at 2130 Pepperwood Preserve Road approximately midway between the towns of Santa Rosa and Calistoga off of Franz Valley Road and adjacent to Safari West. Please carpool as parking is limited. For more information about Pepperwood and its programs, please visit

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