, Volume 76, Issue 1-2, pp 91-119
Date: 29 Mar 2006

Risk-Based Reanalysis of the Effects of Climate Change on U.S. Cold-water Habitat

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Summary

A probabilistic risk assessment was conducted for the effects of future climate change on U.S. cold-water habitat. Damage functions for the loss of current cold-water fish habitat in the United States and the Rocky Mountain region were integrated with probability distributions for U.S. June/July/August (JJA) temperature change using Monte Carlo techniques. Damage functions indicated temperature thresholds for incipient losses (≥5%) of cold-water habitat in the United States and the Rocky Mountains of 0.6 and 0.4 C, respectively. Median impacts associated with different temperature distributions suggested habitat loss in 2025, 2050, and 2100 of approximately 10, 20, and 30%, respectively, for the United States and 20, 35, and 50%, respectively, in the Rocky Mountains. However, 2100 losses in excess of 60% and 90% were possible for the United States and the Rocky Mountains, respectively, albeit at low probabilities. The implementation of constraints on greenhouse gas emissions conforming to the WRE750/550/350 stabilization scenarios had little effect on reducing habitat loss out to 2050, but median effects in 2100 were reduced by up to 20, 30, and 60%, respectively. Increased focus on probabilistic risk assessment may be a profitable mechanism for enhancing understanding and communication of climate change impacts and, subsequently, risk management.