201 Stephenson Parkway, Suite 2100 Norman, OK 73019

Extreme Weather and Climate Change

This is a new Community of Practice introduced at the South Central Climate Adaptation Science Center’s Fall 2021 Meeting. As such, much of our time spent during the breakout sessions was on discussion on the direction and focus of our team. The team took inventory of their expertise and their collective interests. The small group determined a diverse range of expertise (climate dynamics, atmospheric chemistry, radar and severe weather warnings, and ecology) but expressed a strong need to make sure the research connected directly with end users. Given the broad nature of interests and expertise, the group also reassessed the term “Severe Weather” in the Community’s name. The team ultimately decided that we would expand the definition to include more high-impact weather events – e.g., extreme rainfall, heatwaves, and drought – and reduced air quality due to haze and air pollution. Finally, the team brainstormed about potential end users of their research. After some discussion, the team decided that it would focus on State and National Parks in the South Central US region and target how extreme weather events are affecting those parks. The team identified several parks within the South Central region along with identifying other government agencies to which we could reach out for additional help and communication.


Over the next year, this group has three key goals. First, the team plans to build a list of partners at the State and National Parks level and reach out to have conversations with them about the role of extreme weather and climate change in their park(s). The emphasis will be to develop central research questions that are important and relevant to these partners. Second, the team will perform a thorough literature review – including journal articles and government reports – aimed at the impacts of the changing nature of weather and climate on these parks. Finally, the team will construct central research questions with preliminary outreach efforts and analyses that will serve as the foundation for a research proposal and/or a concept paper on this topic. As part of this last goal, the team will identify potential agencies/calls for proposal submission or journals for papers.

Our Team

Jason C. Furtado (Lead)

Marcela Loría-Salazar

Charles Kuster

Eric T. Allen

Emma Kuster

Ebone Smith

Our Projects and Milestones

The Extreme Weather and Climate Change Community of Practice (CoP – originally named Severe Weather and Climate Change) is a new CoP introduced at the South Central Climate Adaptation Science Center’s Fall 2021 Meeting. As such, we have spent significant time organizing team members, identifying strengths and mutual interests, and designing a path forward for research and outreach. Group members possess a diverse range of expertise (climate dynamics, atmospheric chemistry, radar and severe weather warnings, and ecology) and expressed a strong need to make sure the research connected directly with end users. As such, the group worked on and produced a Mission Statement that we could deliver to partners and other end users as we develop our research projects. Discussion at the Fall Meeting and subsequent monthly virtual meetings converged on a central research theme for our CoP: to address how changes in extreme weather impact our National and State Parks and National Wildlife Refuges. Here, extreme weather encompasses a broad range of phenomena: hail and high winds, flooding, drought, heatwaves, wildfires, and air quality reduction due to haze and pollution. To fulfill this mission, the group is committed to a co-production approach to addressing relevant research questions. We envision interacting with the different Park Services to learn the current state of their knowledge in this area, to identify gaps in understanding trends in extreme weather affecting the parks, and to develop relevant research questions and projects to address those gaps. 

Progress toward this mission is strong in 2022. The team had a meeting with members of the US National Park Service Climate Change Response Team in February 2022. The discussion was fruitful, and the US National Park Service was very interested in partnering with the group on potential research and outreach projects. The Park Service is currently looking for a few specific parks which are experiencing significant and “immediate” issues with climate change and extreme weather and will provide those parks to the team. The goal will be to start a pilot research project with one or two of these parks over the next year to address the particular extreme weather / climate change concerns of those parks. Additionally, we are finalizing a new logo for the group to use for communications and other products from the CoP. Finally, we are also actively searching for potential research funding that would support our goals of both fundamental research, actionable science, and education outreach for park visitors. One potential target is the upcoming USGS call this summer, and the team is getting ready to work with our National Park Service partners for this and other similar proposals.

     Beyond the proposal writing, the CoP also has a couple of other goals. One goal is to conduct a thorough literature review on the topic of extreme weather and its impact on parks and wildlife refuges. Also, we plan to begin work on the pilot study discussed above. This pilot study will involve reaching out to the specific park managers and staff to learn more about the extreme weather / climate change concerns and beginning to gather data and information for analysis. Potential targets include Big Bend National Park and historic parks in New Mexico and Texas currently experiencing degradation of their historical buildings. We will also continue to meet virtually monthly to discuss our progress and advance other topics and continue to look for new members for the group for the remainder of the year.