Fort Custer Training Center Scenario Planning

This project involved the development of climate scenarios for the Michigan Army National Guard Fort Custer Training Center in Battle Creek, Michigan.  GLISA lead a workshop, where we guided natural resource managers through a process of learning about local climate trends and future projections, to identify weather and/or climate events that challenge their management of specific natural resources (i.e., invasive species, high quality natural areas, etc).  The outcome was a set of four specific climate scenarios that consist of a timeline of weather hazards, resulting on-the-ground impacts to the resources they manage, and a set of recommendations for how one could better prepare for each scenario. Fort Custer will be using the climate information and recommendations developed at the workshop to update their next Integrated Natural Resource Management Plan (INRMP) per Department of Defense requirements.

Project Accomplishments: 

Prior to the workshop, GLISA developed a historical climate summary for the Battle Creek area using both local observations from the W.K. Kellogg Airport Automated Surface Observing Station (ASOS) and a more regional analysis from the Climate Science Special Report (CSSR, 2017).  Variables of interest included temperature and extreme temperature, precipitation and extreme precipitation, snowfall, growing season length, date of first fall freeze, date of last spring freeze, upper soil moisture, and evapotranspiration.  Additionally, GLISA worked with the lead organizer at Fort Custer to learn about the management concerns and selected four different climate models, projected to the end of century, that offered information about the future that would specifically challenge their management actions.

At the workshop, participants were grouped into four natural resource management areas important to Fort Custer.  GLISA lead participants through a series of short presentations broken up by group discussion and activities. GLISA developed an accompanying workbook to facilitate the group discussions and record important information coming out of the groups.  

Each group was assigned a scenario framework, or the overarching future climate conditions tailored to their management concerns. They then considered the impacts of their scenario on their management goals, then built specific hazards/events into the climate scenarios (e.g., wind storms with blow-down, an early thaw followed by hard freeze, or drought).  The resulting scenarios were in the form of a timeline so that the timing (i.e., seasonality) of the hazards mattered and further stressed their management actions. Participants described impacts and challenges of their unique scenarios as well as management recommendations with the larger group.

After the workshop, GLISA summarized the information obtained from each management group into a cohesive document for Fort Custer to use in the development of its INRMP.  Additionally, GLISA updated information on climate normals for Battle Creek, and provided a written discussion of local versus regional climate information. Overall, through the workshop process, many natural resource managers became more aware of local climate trends/projections and how to consider these changes in future planning through climate scenarios.

Research findings: 

For GLISA, a majority of the findings come from the newly created workbook that was utilized during the workshop. This workshop was the first time this workbook was used for climate scenario development, and GLISA asked for feedback from workshop participants in order to improve portions of the workbook and workshop process for future iterations. Overall there was a positive response to the workshop, and future efforts will build on GLISA’s success.

Project Partners: Michele Richards, Fort Custer Training Center; Dawn Johnson, Senior Biologist at John Wood Group PLC

GLISA Contact: Laura Briley, Climatologist: auraell@umich.edu