finding 25.4 : key-message-25-4

Traditional foods, natural resource-based livelihoods, cultural resources, and spiritual well-being of Indigenous peoples in the Southwest are increasingly affected by drought, wildfire, and changing ocean conditions (very likely, high confidence). Because future changes would further disrupt the ecosystems on which Indigenous peoples depend (likely, high confidence), tribes are implementing adaptation measures and emissions reduction actions (very likely, very high confidence).

This finding is from chapter 25 of Impacts, Risks, and Adaptation in the United States: The Fourth National Climate Assessment, Volume II.

Process for developing key messages:

The authors examined the scientific literature in their areas of expertise. The team placed the highest weight on scientific articles published in refereed peer-reviewed journals. Other sources included published books, government technical reports, and, for data, government websites. The U.S. Global Change Research Program issued a public call for technical input and provided the authors with the submissions. The University of Arizona Center for Climate Adaptation Science and Solutions organized the Southwest Regional Stakeholder Engagement Workshop on January 28, 2017, with over 70 participants at the main location in Tucson, AZ, and dozens of participants in Albuquerque, NM, Boulder, CO, Davis, CA, Los Angeles, CA, Reno, NV, and Salt Lake City, UT, all connected by video. Participants included scientists and managers. The author team met the following day for their only meeting in person. Subsequently, authors held discussions in regular teleconferences. Many chapter authors met at the all-author meeting March 26–28, 2018, in Bethesda, MD.

Description of evidence base:

Abundant evidence and strong agreement among sources exist regarding current impacts of climate change in the region. Impacts of climate change on the food sources, natural resources-based livelihoods, cultural resources and practices, and spiritual health and well-being of Southwest Indigenous peoples are supported, in part, by evidence of regional temperature increases,29960c69-6168-4fb0-9af0-d50bdd91acd3,acbb7b12-c119-4c42-8a80-c2555964db4c drought,ba57f86f-c42f-4bba-83f6-676d6875c176,89e08a41-6091-45fa-a92e-6168a90a8151,4ca5a43c-5fbe-4cb0-8a7d-7ee3acafd7c0,4fbaaa13-99d2-43df-93db-2be546f18892 declines in snow,fd8947cd-6705-4ec7-9126-0444a730d48a,0d8b090e-e060-4f9d-a442-b7e050608a20,247874c4-0ebc-4fc6-9e45-b5f0de315261 and streamflow,43e0a0e0-057e-4ebd-aede-f3766cfa02a5,a42c4f5e-f16b-4196-af05-61f117e0491d,8ebd54b0-fa0c-4cf5-8aa3-4ed7504f2add,a464ea68-c53b-4af4-8f29-d063dbc4c026 which have affected ecological processes, such as tree death,9c23a870-58cf-49f6-9c6f-01cb94e4bb5a fire occurrence,de4a77df-03ba-4319-a13f-7fdefbb353a5,391560e0-40c1-4f9d-b063-e87d18c87e02 and species ranges.4b5bd341-33e8-4ac5-9341-f4ffc4f6c2ad

Impacts specific to Indigenous peoples include: 1) declining surface soil moisture, higher temperatures, and evaporation converge with oak trees’ decreased resilience,d04b2c86-5ca0-42e0-9792-2f319c15cd7e diminished acorn production, and fire and pest threat to reduce the availability and quality of acorns for tribal food consumption and cultural purposes;debdf209-4050-4706-965c-09cff7ec353b and 2) declining vegetation, higher temperatures, diminished snow, and soil desiccation have caused dust storms and more mobile dunes on some Navajo and Hopi lands, resulting in damaged infrastructure and grazing lands and loss of valued native plant habitat.85923ac2-22e6-4265-9d70-1887132abfce,55bb8299-2349-4d73-b75a-acb2754e5ff6,953476ae-1357-48a5-99d8-1daf963f0a3c Evidence and agreement among evidence exist on the effects of climate-related environmental changes on culturally important foods,868f45d1-d3c6-46c6-bad4-cc82dcbd4b36,9871290a-65c9-435f-9ad0-00514a8a08e6 practices, and mental and spiritual health.98957f73-e40a-4a1e-b48d-01108d939123

Multiple projections of climate and hydrological changes show potential future change and disruption to the ecosystems on which Indigenous peoples depend for their natural resources-based livelihoods, health, cultural practices, and traditions. These include projections of increased temperatures and heat extremes;acbb7b12-c119-4c42-8a80-c2555964db4c longer, more severe, and more frequent drought;a42c4f5e-f16b-4196-af05-61f117e0491d,ed70fd44-147d-4ffa-ab1b-68451bd1d335 expanded forest mortality;298cdb3f-64e7-4ac9-814c-f8deefbf964b,811ef6d7-304b-40e0-8b90-433d80cdb5f0 increased wildfire;78ccfd46-befc-4726-8dea-985aa6efb5b8 and ocean temperature increases, ocean acidification, and inundation of coastal areas.a1aee4ba-d4fc-4f92-a74a-e37189c138b5,dd11662f-f1a1-4a3b-a34f-295e5364e5ed

Evidence of specific future disruptions to traditional food sources from forests and oceans mostly relies upon inferences, based on projections of changing seasonality and associated phenological or ecosystem responses6848eec2-534b-4629-967c-53d8530089a3,92ef48b3-a700-46f9-9762-461c83b6dca8 or potential changes to biophysical factors, such as salinity of freshwater lakes, and associated impacts to culturally important fish species.c1162288-6379-4b60-b573-d0f8482d8fa0

Abundant evidence exists of autonomous adaptation strategies, projects, and actions, rooted in traditional environmental knowledge and practices or integration of diverse knowledge systems to inform ecological management to support adaptation and ecosystem resilience.953476ae-1357-48a5-99d8-1daf963f0a3c,6af8ed46-056c-4cac-b345-80cefd8b5a22,6eef5a47-4a5e-4d07-88d4-b3cdff9bf9a0,d630a483-2475-4fbb-b942-e5068ac04971

In response to the current and future projected climate changes and ecosystem disruptions, a number of tribes in the Southwest are planning and implementing energy efficient and renewable energy projects.fda7d18b-acc5-46fc-9863-3b4ac6a609be,f9f08a1a-4e9f-462f-a96e-3342cc6b7813,3c483f61-3d2a-4238-881e-e70ac97f7fb2,826a78bd-d04d-44d7-b400-ce3d095d7358 These include installation of or planning for photovoltaic systems,f9f08a1a-4e9f-462f-a96e-3342cc6b7813 solar arrays, biofuels, microgrids, utility-scale wind, biogas, geothermal heating and cooling systems,fda7d18b-acc5-46fc-9863-3b4ac6a609be increased building insulation,826a78bd-d04d-44d7-b400-ce3d095d7358 and carbon offsets.ecd94324-df90-4ee6-a2a3-d58edcc95d35 Several Southwest tribes, such as the Ramona Band of Cahuilla and the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians, have established or are in the process of establishing energy independence.826a78bd-d04d-44d7-b400-ce3d095d7358 A well-recognized example is that of the Blue Lake Rancheria Tribe, in California, which was named a Climate Action Champion in 2015–2016 for implementing innovative climate actions, such as an all-of-the-above renewable strategy of transportation, residential, and municipal renewable energy projects, which includes a biogas project. A number of these projects (Ch. 15: Tribes, Figure 15.1) aim to simultaneously meet mitigation and adaptation objectives, such as the Yurok Tribe and the Round Valley Indian Tribe, which have developed carbon offset projects under California’s cap-and-trade program to support tribally led restoration and stewardship.04697d92-ed19-4fdc-95bf-4ee9f86aab8f

Several tribes in the Southwest are developing climate change adaptation plans to address the current climate-related impacts and prepare for future projected climate changes. The Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians, which is working towards an integrated energy and climate action plan, the Yurok Tribe, the Gila River Indian Community, and the Tohono O’odham Nation are among the first tribes in the region to develop climate adaptation and resilience plans, which reflects a nationwide gap or need for further tribal adaptation plan development. Lack of capacity and funds has hindered progress in moving from planning to implementation, which is similar to the situation for U.S. cities.8a61b1a7-bb52-496d-86f7-21911efcf5f8

New information and remaining uncertainties:

Uncertainties in the climate and hydrologic drivers of regional changes affecting Indigenous peoples in the Southwest include 1) differences in projections from multiple GCMs and associated uncertainties related to regional downscaling methods, 2) the way snow is treated in regional modeling,64014404-d26e-45c7-9b33-8e2253a9ca04 3) variability in projections of extreme precipitation, and, in particular, 4) uncertainties in summer and fall precipitation projections for the region.e8089a19-413e-4bc5-8c4a-7610399e268c Additional uncertainties exist in sea level rise projectionsa1aee4ba-d4fc-4f92-a74a-e37189c138b5 and, for the California coast, ocean process model projections of acidification, deoxygenation, and warming coastal zone temperatures.99e25417-f6c0-49f1-87cd-e9af689f3cff For the most part, Native lands lack instrumental monitoring for weather and climate, which is a barrier for long-term climate-related planning.d630a483-2475-4fbb-b942-e5068ac04971

Complexities arising from the multiple factors affecting ecosystem processes, including tree mortality and fire, often preclude formal detection and attribution studies. Much evidence and agreement among evidence exist regarding the role of hotter temperatures in fire and tree mortality.de4a77df-03ba-4319-a13f-7fdefbb353a5,9c23a870-58cf-49f6-9c6f-01cb94e4bb5a Detection and attribution studies seldom focus explicitly on tribal lands.

Other uncertainties relate to estimating future vulnerabilities and impacts, which depend, in part, on adjudication of unresolved water rights and the potential development of local, state, regional, tribal, and national policies that may promote or inhibit the development and deployment of adaptation and mitigation strategies.

Assessment of confidence based on evidence:

The documented human-caused increase in temperature is a key driver of regional impacts to snow, soil moisture, forests, and wildfire, which affect Indigenous peoples, other frontline communities, and all of civil society. Case study evidence, using Indigenous and Western scientific observations, oral histories, traditional knowledge and wisdom (e.g., Ferguson et al. 2016d630a483-2475-4fbb-b942-e5068ac04971), suggests that climate change is affecting the health, livelihoods, natural and cultural resources, practices, and spiritual well-being of Indigenous communities and peoples in the Southwest (e.g., Redsteer et al. 2011, 2013; Wotkyns 2011; Cozzetto et al. 2013; Gautam et al. 2013; Navajo Nation Department of Fish and Wildlife 2013; Nania and Cozzetto et al. 2014; Sloan and Hostler 2014; Redsteer and Fordham 201785923ac2-22e6-4265-9d70-1887132abfce,167cbc63-6d6f-4ece-a004-3421311f8d7f,e6404db9-fef8-42ba-95c8-3a7c5b7d8d05,92ef48b3-a700-46f9-9762-461c83b6dca8,c1162288-6379-4b60-b573-d0f8482d8fa0,32a621bf-5225-47a3-b7df-559443b3486e,953476ae-1357-48a5-99d8-1daf963f0a3c,90a2ffd1-1b04-4e85-9bc1-7b9778858c50,e7386ded-fc42-4907-b607-4ccc458dd638). Abundant evidence gives high confidence that hotter temperatures, tree mortality, and increased wildfire and drought, due to climate change, would disrupt the ecosystems on which Indigenous people depend; the likelihood of these impacts affecting individual tribes will depend in large part on the non-climatic stresses (such as historical legacies and resource management practices) interacting with the climatic stresses. Very high confidence exists that tribes are developing adaptation measures and emissions reductions to address current and future climate change, based on abundant ongoing initiatives and associated documentation.

This finding was derived from scenario rcp_8_5

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