Climate Change

Prestigious Banting Postdoctoral Fellow to Study How Climate Change Affects Indigenous Water Justice

Water and climate scientist Kelsey Leonard is a Banting Postdoctoral Research Fellow at McMaster University in Ontario, Canada.

After graduating from Harvard College, Dr. Leonard became the first Native American woman to earn a science degree from the University of Oxford, receiving her master’s in water science, policy, and management.

As a citizen of the Shinnecock Indian Nation and an environmental leader, Dr. Leonard strives to be a strong advocate for the protection of Indigenous waters through enhanced interjurisdictional coordination and meaningful consultation. She is a Tribal representative on the Mid-Atlantic Committee on the Ocean and a member of the Great Lakes Water Quality Board of the International Joint Commission.

Dr. Leonard has been instrumental in safeguarding the interests of Tribal Nations for environmental planning, and builds Indigenous science and knowledge into new solutions for water governance and sustainable oceans. Her recent scholarship explores “Indigenous Water Justice” and the defining international legal principle of self-determination under the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples which was published in the Lewis and Clark Law Review and available for download here: Her research on climate change focuses on water security challenges facing Tribal and First Nations in the Great Lakes and Coastal Atlantic regions due to rising sea and lake levels and extreme climate events. Dr. Leonard is a member of an international research team using Indigenous science, to deepen our understandings of perceived climate change impacts, and works to ensure Indigenous knowledge systems influence international climate change negotiations and policy-making processes.

At the TEDWomen 2019 Conference, she presented a talk titled “Why lakes and rivers should have the same rights as humans,” which has garnered almost 1.5 million views. In this talk, Dr. Leonard outlines why granting legal personhood to water is a powerful step in transforming our relationship with water and asks us to reflect on the question “What have I done for the water today?”

You can watch Dr. Leonard’s TED Talk HERE:  If you are interested in learning more about Dr. Leonard’s research or exploring opportunities for climate change research partnerships please contact her at


How is the Coronavirus Pandemic Affecting Climate Change?

The global Coronavirus Pandemic is affecting climate change in both anticipated and unanticipated ways.  For example, as observed during the 2008 global recession carbon, emissions are temporarily decreasing.  Scientists are projecting that 2020 may observe a 5% drop in CO2 emissions from 2019.  That may not seem like a lot, however it is the first significant drop in over a decade.  Also, although global transportation has reduced significantly, electricity production continues to meet the needs of homes as well as for essential services.  With the reduction is fossil fuel transportation, air quality around the globe and especially over major urban areas has improved significantly.  However, to protect from the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) there has been an increase in plastic waste from sanitizing and cleaning materials and containers to other disposable plastics.  More on the story of how the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting climate change and the environment can be found here.     


COVID-19 and the climate crisis are intertwined threats to Native American and the Earth; A story by Chase Iron Eyes

Within the past few weeks, Indigenous communities in the U.S. achieved a pair of substantial victories regarding pipelines. First, legal action by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe compelled a federal judge in Washington, D.C., to revoke permits for the Dakota Access pipeline. Then another federal judge in Montana ruled that the environmental impact review process for the Keystone XL pipeline was flawed, and he halted its construction through domestic waterways…Yet, any sense of victory is tempered — by the COVID-19 pandemic we face together, and by a long history of disappointment…The COVID-19 pandemic should remind us of our need to be prepared. Though Mother Earth may be getting a short breather while billions stay home, the climate crisis hasn’t gone away. Even in the midst of this awful time and with two key rulings in our favor, the Dakota Access pipeline is about to double the oil it carries through our homelands, and Keystone XL construction is slated to continue.  For the full article, click here.

Tribal Community in Louisiana Fights to remain in their Homelands Amid the Impacts of Sea Level Rise

Sea level rise is threatening the homes, lands, and waterways of the Atakapa-Ishak/Chawasha Tribal Community of Grand Bayou in Louisiana.  However, the community is not looking to relocate, but to protect in place.  Since the 1930s, about 2,000 square miles—more than 10 times the land area of sprawling New Orleans—have disappeared from Louisiana’s coastline. Grand Bayou lies outside the protection of the state’s levee system.  With the understanding of the risk of sea level rise the people of Grand Bayou are leaning to their self-determination of their future amid the Climate Crisis.  For more on the story see here.

A New Fish and Climate Change Database – Check out FiCli!  

Inland fishes provide important ecosystem services to communities worldwide and are especially vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. The National Climate Adaptation Science Center (NCASC) supported researchers created the standardized Fish and Climate Change database, FiCli (pronounced “fick-lee”) where researchers and managers can query fish families, species, response types, or geographic locations to obtain summary information on inland fish responses to climate change and recommended management actions. To learn more, see here.

Analysis Identifies Most Worrisome Invasive Plants in the Northeast  

More than 100 new invasive plant species could expand into the Northeast under changing climate conditions in the region. To help resource managers plan for this challenge, Northeast CASC supported ecologists at the University of Massachusetts Amherst are offering a new analysis that narrows the large list down to five priority invasive plant species with the greatest potential impacts.  To learn more, see here.

The Tribal Adaptation Menu (TAM) continues to be utilized across the Midwest, Northeast, and Southeast

Dibaginjigaadeg Anishinaabe Ezhitwaad also known as the Tribal Adaptation Menu (TAM) continues to be utilized as a resource for Tribal climate adaptation planning and resilience for Tribal Nations in the Great Lakes region and beyond, including in the Northeast and Southeast.  Although in-person workshops have been put on hold due to COVID-19 travel restrictions, the TAM author team continues to hold cohort calls for TAM workshop participants to share updates on their current projects, discuss plans to host and develop future workshops, and to host guest speakers working with Tribal Nations and communities on climate adaptation and resilience projects.  For more information on the TAM or to discuss hosting a future workshop for your community contact Sara Smith ( or Rob Croll (

Seneca Nation of Indians Receives Award for Climate and Health Communication  

The Seneca Nation of Indians has received an award from the National Indian Health Board’s (NIHB) Climate Ready Tribes Project to develop climate and environmental health communication materials.  The overall goal of this project is to build capacity related to climate health by increasing knowledge and awareness of climate change in order to increase Tribal Nations’ ability to recognize threats and to support Tribal Nations to take action.  Typically there are three awards given per year.  This year the Tribal Nations awarded were the Seneca Nation of Indians, Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska, and the Greenville Rancheria.  For more information on the program see here.

New York Times Publishes Story on the Shinnecock Indian Nation and Resilience

The New York Times published a story on the work of the Shinnecock Indian Nation – Environmental Department and partners to restore the beaches in order to buffer from the impacts of coastal erosion and sea level rise.  The Shinnecock Indian Nation is a coastal Tribal Nation located on Long Island, New York near South Hampton.  Following the flooding and coastal erosion impacts from Hurricane Sandy in 2012, (as well as decades of erosion with sea level rise) the Shinnecock Indian Nation has worked diligently to restore coastal areas with dredged sand and planting of native beach grasses and other plants. These efforts extend and elevate the beach between Shinnecock Bay and the Shinnecock Indian Nation community.  Boulders placed along the low-tide line help to reduce further erosion by impeding wave action before the force of the waves reach the sand.  The story on the Shinnecock Indian Nation emphasizes the value of “nature-based solutions” to the impacts of climate change and sea level rise.  For the full story see here (note: a subscription may be required).

Auburn University Ph.D. Student Studies Ancient Southeastern Climates to understand the Modern Climate Change Implications for the Future

  Leah Travis-Taylor is a new Ph.D. student at the Auburn University Department of Geosciences. Leah completed her Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees at the University of Alabama and her studies focused on the behavior of ancient, extinct marine reptiles in the ecosystems that sustained them during a past warm climate. Her research adds perspective on the implications of climate change on modern-day marine reptiles.  Leah’s grandmother is a citizen of the Poarch Band of Creek Indians in Alabama, and Leah is actively involved in SACNAS (Society for Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science).  Now at Auburn University, Leah specializes in the study of ancient climates (paleoclimatology), and her research investigates past precipitation variability in the Gulf of Mexico region from evidence found in stalagmites.  Stalagmites are rock formations common in limestone caves, that form from material deposited from water dripped from the cave ceiling. Stalagmites are layered and can provide clues into changes in past hydrology and precipitation going back thousands of years.

Through the development of stalagmite records from caves in the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean regions, Leah’s work will produce some of the oldest, highest-resolution records in these areas.  This can provide Tribal Nations in the Southeast region with more information on hydroclimate variability in order to mitigate climate change impacts from more intense events, such as droughts and flooding.

Funding Opportunities
and Resources

USDA-NRCS: Conservation Innovation Grant
Applications due June 29, 2020. Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is announcing the availability of up to $15 million in Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG) funding. The purpose of CIG is to stimulate the development and adoption of innovative conservation approaches and technologies in conjunction with agricultural production. CIG projects are expected to lead to the transfer of conservation technologies, management systems, and innovative approaches (such as market-based systems) to agricultural producers, into NRCS technical manuals and guides, or to the private sector. For more information, click here.

DOE FOA Energy Infrastructure Deployment on Tribal Lands – 2020
Applications due July 1, 2020.  This FOA is intended to promote energy independence, economic development and with the ancillary benefit of providing employment on Tribal Lands through the use of commercially warrantied energy technologies that Native Americans and Alaska Natives believe are best suited to meet their needs, their location, and their available energy resources. For more information on the FOA, click here.

Tribal Wildlife Grants Program FY 2020
Applications due July 6, 2020. The Tribal Wildlife Grants (TWG) program was created to support the development and implementation of programs for the benefit of wildlife and their habitats and species of Tribal cultural or traditional importance, including species that are not hunted or fished. The TWG program provides opportunities for federally recognized Tribal Nations to engage in fish and wildlife conservation efforts on their lands, many of which are also located adjacent to significant fish and wildlife populations, allowing for hunting and fishing opportunities on and off Tribal lands. For more information and to apply, click here.


Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI)   
Fact Sheet:
Federal Resources for Nature-Based Solutions to Climate Change has provided this fact sheet as a survey of federal funding and technical assistance available to help state and local governments and agencies, Tribal Nations, non-governmental organizations, universities, and individuals implement nature-based solutions for climate resilience. Many of these sources of federal support allow communities to develop projects which draw on the multiple, interrelated benefits of nature-based solutions.  To access the fact sheet, click here.


DOC EDA FY2019 EDA Disaster Supplementals
Applications are accepted on a continuing basis and processed as received. This investment assistance will help communities and regions devise and implement long-term economic recovery strategies through a variety of non-construction and construction projects, as appropriate, to address economic challenges in areas where a Presidential declaration of a major disaster was issued under the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act. For more information and to apply, click here.


2020 Fish Passage Program
Applications are accepted on a rolling basis from October 1, 2019- September 3, 2020. The National Fish Passage Program (NFPP) is a voluntary program that provides direct technical and financial assistance to partners. The program works in partnership to provide fish (and other aquatic organisms) passage and restore aquatic connectivity for the benefit of federal trust resources. In doing so, the program aims to maintain or increase fish populations in order to improve ecosystem resiliency and to provide quality fishing experiences for the American people. To view the funding opportunity click here.

Student Opportunities

Native Student Professional Development Program: The Wildlife Society (TWG) 27th Annual Conference, September 27-October 1, 2020.
pplications due July 15, 2020. The Wildlife Society (TWS) is announcing a Professional Development Program for Indigenous Students Interested in the Wildlife Profession.  Students selected for this program will receive funds to help cover registration fees, lodging, meals, and transportation to and from the TWS 27th Annual Conference, September 27 – October 1, 2020 in Louisville, KY.  Program participants will also receive a one-year membership in TWS and become members of the TWS Native People’s Wildlife Management Working Group (NPWMWG).  More information on the NPWMWG can be found here. To apply for the Professional Development Program see here.                                 

Graduate Student Scholarship Opportunity: Sloan Indigenous Graduate Partnership. The Center for Native Peoples and the Environment at the State University of New York (SUNY)
Applications accepted on a rolling basis (but note SUNY fall/spring application deadlines). Graduate Study Opportunity Integrating Indigenous and Scientific Knowledges for Environmental Sustainability. The Center for Native Peoples and the Environment at the State University of New York (SUNY) College of Environmental Science & Forestry is recruiting students for graduate study in diverse environmental sciences from ecology, sustainability, conservation biology to restoration and environmental engineering. As a member of the Sloan Indigenous Graduate Partnership, the program provides funding for full tuition and stipends for Native American students pursuing MS and PhD degrees. Applications are open so please join us in this exciting initiative. Additional information can be found online at or contact Dr. Robin Wall Kimmerer at

Additional Resources

Northeast Indigenous Climate Resilience Network

The Northeast Indigenous Climate Resilience Network (NICRN) seeks to convene Indigenous peoples to identify threats to Indigenous self-determination and ways of life and to formulate adaptation and mitigation strategies, dialogues, and educational programs that build Indigenous capacities to address climate-related issues. This website provides the latest tools and resources for Indigenous peoples and scientists to work together towards meeting the current challenges of climate change.  To go to the NICRN website, click here.

The Tribal Adaptation Menu (TAM)

The Tribal Adaptation Menu (TAM) is an extensive collection of climate change adaptation actions for natural resource management, organized into tiers of general and more specific ideas. While this first version of the Menu was created based on Ojibwe and Menominee perspectives, languages, concepts and values (hence its name in language–Dibaginjigaadeg Anishinaabe Ezhitwaad), it was intentionally designed to be adaptable to other Indigenous communities, allowing for the incorporation of their language, knowledge and culture.  The TAM authors and team provide culturally-supportive climate change adaptation planning workshops.  For more information see here.  

Bureau of Indian Affairs: Tribal Resilience Program        

The BIA Tribal Resilience Program (TRP) provides federal-wide resources to Tribal Nations to build capacity and resilience through leadership engagement, delivery of data and tools, training and Tribal capacity building. Direct funding supports Tribal Nations, Tribal consortia, and authorized Tribal organizations to build resilience through competitive awards for Tribally designed resilience training, adaptation planning, vulnerability assessments, supplemental monitoring, capacity building, and youth engagement. The resilient ocean and coastal management effort supports planning, science and tools, and capacity for coastal Tribal Nation’s ocean management, including the Great Lakes.  For more information, see here.

Tribal Climate Change Guide

Tribal Climate Change Funding Guide is intended to provide up-to-date information on grants, programs and plans that may assist Tribal Nations in addressing climate change through a broad range of sectors. We will update this guide regularly, so please check back often. If you have questions or updates for this guide, email: Please note that for entries that are accepting applications continuously, the grant deadline column will list “12/31/2017” as the grant deadline. This ensures that those grants will appear immediately after those grants with a set deadline.  To go to the Tribal Climate Change Guide, click here.

Institute for Tribal Environmental Professionals (ITEP): Tribal Climate Change Program    

ITEP’s Climate Change Program is a resource for Tribal Nations and Tribal environmental and other program staff for climate change adaptation support.  The ITEP Climate Change Program provides climate change adaptation planning workshops and trainings via webinar and in-person.  For more information see ITEP’s Climate Change Program webpage here

Upcoming Events, Webinars, and Trainings (listed in order by date)

WEBINAR Series: Tribal Climate and Health Adaptation Webinar Series

The third Tuesday of the month (12:00 – 1:30pm Eastern/11-12:30 Central) from January 21, 2020 through August 18, 2020. The Pala Band of Mission Indians/Pala Environmental Department, is pleased to announce the 2020 Tribal Climate & Health Adaptation Regional Cohort Webinar Series. Please visit our website for more information on how to register for this informative and engaging webinar series. This FREE interactive training is offered through a series of eight live webinars.

Workshop: 8th Annual Indigenous Planning Summer Institute 2020

 June 1-6, 2020. College of the Menominee Nation, Keshena, WI: The College of the Menominee Nation – Sustainable Development Institute with the partners of the Indigenous Design and Planning Institute of the University of New Mexico, the Northeast Climate Adaptation Science Center (NE CASC), and Michigan State University will host the 8th Annual Indigenous Planning Summer Institute (IPSI). ISPE seeks to bring together a group of Indigenous participants and instructors to work collaboratively on building an understanding of how to implement Indigenous principles and practices of planning and design. ISPE will have a focus on Indigenous sustainability, responses to climate change, and environmental justice.  Please note the application deadline has passed.  

Virtual Symposia: Water, Land, Climate & Food Sovereignty

The National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) – Tribal Food Sovereignty Advancement Initiative (TFSAI) will be hosting three virtual Policy and Food Sovereignty Symposiums in June. The TFSAI Policy Symposiums will be held on the following dates and times:

June 4-5th, 1-4 P.M. Eastern.  Water Policy and Food Sovereignty
June 11-12th, 1-4 P.M. Eastern.  Land Policy and Food Sovereignty
June 25-26th, 1-4 P.M. Eastern.  Climate Action Policy and Food Sovereignty

Please stay tuned for registration links and additional information for these symposiums in the coming weeks.

Indigenous Peoples Climate Change Working Group Webinar Series

The Indigenous Peoples Climate Change Working Group (IPCCWG) would like to invite you to join us for a 4-part webinar series that will discuss the future generations of American Indian and Alaskan Native geoscience professionals, educators, and workforce. An in-person IPCCWG meeting will take place at the National Tribal & Indigenous Climate Conference. To register for the webinars, please click HERE. The webinar schedule is as follows:
June 11, 2020. 4 PM Eastern.
July 19, 2020. 4 PM Eastern.
August 13, 2020. 4 PM Eastern.

If you have any questions regarding registration or anything else, please do not hesitate to reach out to Althea Walker at or 480-258-3963.

Camp: Native Youth Community Adaptation and Leadership Congress

New Dates June 26 – July 3, 2021 (For those students that applied for 2020 NYCALC, their applications will still be valid for 2021). National Conservation Training Center, Shepherdstown, WV.  The Native Youth Community Adaptation and Leadership Congress (NYCALC) is held each summer at the National Conservation Training Center (NCTC) in Shepherdstown, WV. The Congress includes a mix of urban and rural students from Tribal Nations and Indigenous communities located throughout the continental U.S., Alaska, Hawaii, and American Samoa.  For more information and to apply see here.

Camp: USET Tribal Climate Resilience Camp

(Rescheduled to July 11-16, 2021), Schoodic Institute, Winter Harbor, ME. Tribal Nation Host: the Penobscot Nation.      The USET Office of Environmental Resource Management (USET-OERM) will be holding a Tribal Climate Resilience Camp to support teams of Tribal Leaders, climate change coordinators, planners, and program managers to build skills, gather information, and develop Tribal policies and plans needed for Tribal Nations to address climate change impacts. Information about travel, lodging, and registration will be available soon. For more information contact, Casey Thornbrugh, USET Tribal Climate Science Liaison at CThornbrugh@USETINC.ORG.

Conference – VIRTUAL GATHERING: ITEP National Tribal Lands & Environment Forum

 August 11-20, 2020. This will be a series of events will be taking place and will feature live online events, on-demand prerecorded sessions, and virtual field trips. There will be opportunities to join online and live group discussions with mentors, presenters, and colleagues. ITEP is currently accepting proposals for presentations (click on the proposals tab on the information page to submit your idea). ITEP will be offering these valuable trainings at no cost.  More information can be found here.       

Conference: ITEP National Tribal & Indigenous Climate Conference 

August 31 – September 4, 2020. St. Paul, MN. The call for proposals is due May 29th. The Institute for Tribal Environmental Professionals (ITEP) is honored to host the United States’ First Annual National Tribal and Indigenous Climate Conference (NTICC) along with support from the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) Tribal Resilience Program.  The NTICC is open to all US Tribal Nations and Indigenous Peoples from throughout the world, with an emphasis on including our Elders and Youth.  The NTOCC will convene experts on climate change, which will include a balance of Western Science and Traditional Indigenous Knowledges.  The topic areas will address climate impacts, assessments, adaptation, mitigation, implementation, and solutions.  More information can be found here.       

Camp: ATNI Tribal Climate Camp

 September 8-12, 2020, Anchorage, AK. Native Organization Host: Chugach Regional Resources Commission. In 2020, the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians, U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs, Michigan State University, Portland State University’s Institute for Tribal Government, Chugach Regional Resources Commission, and the Northwest Climate Adaptation Science Center are collaboratively offering the Tribal Climate Camp (TCC) to support teams of Tribal leaders, climate change coordinators, planners, and program managers to build skills, gather information, and develop Tribal policy needed to address climate change impacts. To learn more about the event see here or contact Peggy Harris at

Conference: International Conference on Global Climate Change (ICGCC)

September 24-25, 2020. San Francisco, CA. This gathering aims to bring together leading academic scientists, researchers and research scholars to exchange and share their experiences and research results on all aspects of Global Climate Change. For more information click here.

Meeting: USET Sovereignty Protection Fund Impact Week 2020

September 27 – October 1, 2020. USET is tentatively looking to reschedule the 2020 USET Sovereignty Protection Fund (SPF) Impact Week for the last week of September.  This meeting will serve as both the 2020 USET SPF Impact Week and the USET Annual Meeting.  For more updates on the USET SPF Impact Week see here

Conference: The Wildlife Society (TWG) 27th Annual Conference. 

 September 27 – October 1, 2020. Louisville, KY. The Wildlife Society (TWS) is announcing a Professional Development Program for Indigenous Students Interested in the Wildlife Profession.  Students selected for this program will receive funds to help cover registration fees, lodging, meals, and transportation to and from the TWS 27th Annual Conference.  Program participants will also receive a one-year membership in TWS and become members of the TWS Native People’s Wildlife Management Working Group (NPWMWG).  More information on the NPWMWG can be found here. To apply for the Professional Development Program see here.  


Summit: Shifting Seasons 3

October 6-8, 2020. Menominee Conference Center, Keshena, WI. Hosted by the College of Menominee Nation and respective partners.  The 3rd Shifting Seasons Summit will include climate adaptation training sessions tailored to the needs and capabilities of Tribal Nations, but will focus on the development of in-depth case studies based on existing Tribal adaptation work in the Northeast region. This summit would also include relevant Tribal climate change initiatives developed outside of the Northeast by capacity-building organizations, academic institutions and Tribal Nations who have approved climate adaptation plans, thus creating continued network building opportunities. More information can be found HERE.

Summit: National Tribal Leadership Climate Change Summit

October 12-14, 2020. Hyatt Regency, 808 Howell St., Seattle WA.  The Affiliated Tribes of NW Indians, National Congress of American Indians, United South and Eastern Tribes, Pacific NW Tribes, and regional and national inter-tribal organizations are convening Tribal Leaders and staff from Tribal Nations, First Nations, and Indigenous communities from around the world. Our goal is to build on the knowledge and experiences related to climate change impacts and traditional knowledges, develop approaches that promote Tribal leadership in adaptation, mitigation, and resiliency, and foster pathways to influence climate policy regionally, nationally, and internationally. The Summit will include internationally renowned plenary speakers, participatory breakout sessions, youth sessions, climate solution exhibition, and more. The Summit will culminate in the development of a policy platform to ensure that Tribal Nations are leaders in moving climate policy forward in the United States and around the world. For more information including: registration, inquiry to be a speaker or presenter, agenda, youth participation, exhibits, march and rally, or sponsorship opportunities please contact: Don Sampson, ATNI Climate Change Project Director at or call 541- 215-2753. On-line registration available here.

Conference: Fall 2020 EPA New England Tribal Leaders Summit & Environmental Conference

October 20-22, 2020.  Hosted by the Passamaquoddy Tribe at Pleasant Point at the Bar Harbor Regency – Mount Desert Island –  Bar Harbor, ME. The Tribal Leaders Summit in the morning and afternoon on October 20 will be an executive session with Tribal Leaders, Tribal Environmental Directors, EPA Senior Leadership, other Federal Agency leaders, and invited guests. The Tribal Environmental Conference on October 21 ad 22 is open to Tribal Leaders, Tribal Environmental Directors and Staff, Tribal Historic Preservation Officers, EPA Leadership and Staff, Tribal Elders and Students, as well as State, Federal, University and other external partners. More information on lodging and registration can be found here.

Conference: 2020 Carolinas Climate Resilience Conference

October 26-28, 2020 (Re-scheduled for May 10-12, 2021). Durham, NC. The Carolinas Climate Resilience Conference has been postponed due to concerns associated with the novel coronavirus pandemic. The CISA team and conference planning committees agree that this postponement will help to ensure the health and safety of our participants. The CISA team are especially grateful to our first responders and health care professionals who are on the frontlines, helping to save the lives of so many.  For more information see here.

Conference: National Adaptation Forum

April 26-28, 2021.
Atlanta, GA. This event will gather the adaptation community to foster knowledge exchange, innovation and mutual support for a better tomorrow. Join adaptation practitioners from around the country who are focused on moving beyond adaptation awareness and planning to adaptation action. For more information see here.

Conference: 2020 Local Solutions: Eastern Regional Climate Preparedness Conference  

May 24-25, 2021. Portland, ME. The 2020 Local Solutions conference will empower participants to take action steps that center climate equity. Climate equity ensures that all people have the opportunity to influence and benefit from climate resilience-building solutions. When we achieve climate equity, all communities will have the opportunity to thrive in the face of climate change, and race, ethnicity, income level, gender, and disability or immigration status will not be factors causing disproportionate vulnerability to climate impacts. For more information see here


Visualizing the Climate

NOAA State of the Climate Report: Selected Climate Anomalies for 2020

Explanation of Maps:
The following maps were generated with observed and recorded data from weather stations across the continental United States compiled and displayed at the High Plains Regional Climate Center (HPRCC) located in Lincoln, NE.  The data uses a baseline or “climate normal” based on the 30-year climate averages for locations for the years 1981-2010.  The standard 30-year climate averages will be updated again for the time frame 1991-2020 at the conclusion of year 2020. 

NOAA Regional Climate Centers: Departure from Normal Temperature (°F) for Feb., Mar.,  & Apr. 2020
Late winter into spring 2020 continued to experience significantly warmer than average conditions (based on the years 1981-2010 climatological average) over the eastern US, especially in the Southeast.  The Northern Rockies and northern Minnesota experienced cooler than average temperatures.

For more information visit:

NOAA Regional Climate Centers: Percent of Normal Precipitation (%) for Feb., Mar., & Apr. 2020
Late winter into spring 2020 continued to experience significantly wetter than average conditions (based on the years 1981-2010 climatological average) in the interior Southeast and the Southern Plains.  However, Florida and the Gulf Coast remained drier than average.  Northern California, southern Texas, much of the Inter-Mountain west, and the Central and Northern Great Plains remained drier than average. The Northeast was near average-to-drier than average.

For more information visit:

Explanation of the Maps:

NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center (CPC) issues seasonal climate forecast maps. These maps show the probabilities of unusually warmer/colder or wetter/drier seasons (relative to the 1981-2010 climate averages). Specifically, “A” indicates chances are leaning toward above average, “B” indicates chances are leaning toward below average, and “EC” indicates that there are equal chances for above average, below average, or average conditions. This information is generated from forecast models that use information on ocean, land, and atmospheric conditions such as sea surface temperatures (e.g. El Niño/La Niña conditions), presence/absence of sea ice or snow pack, and tropical weather patterns that can influence the location of the Jetstream and persistent areas of high/low pressure systems during a season. Note: These are seasonal forecasts not predictions with 100% certainty. For example, a single hurricane with heavy rain or a week-long cold air blast/heat wave can impact the outcome of these forecasts. Please see this 2-minute video on how to interpret these maps.

Temperature & Precipitation Outlooks


The late spring-early summer (May-June-July; MJJ) 2020 temperature outlook is leaning toward above average temperatures for the Southwest, Gulf Coast, Southeast, and the Northeast.  Northern and western Alaska is also leaning toward above average temperatures for the season. The highest probabilities for above average temperatures are in Florida, the Gulf Coast, Northeast, Southwest, and Pacific Northwest. The outlook for the Northern Great Plains calls for equal chances of below average, average, or above average temperatures.

The MJJ 2020 precipitation outlook indicates a leaning toward above average seasonal precipitation for the northern Alaska and the central and eastern U.S. Above average seasonal total precipitation is of highest probability in the Midwest, Gulf Coast, the Ohio River Valley and Cumberland Highlands of Kentucky and Tennessee. Below average precipitation is of the highest probability over the Pacific Northwest.

Pacific sea surface temperatures in the tropics have remained near average April through May keeping El Niño conditions neutral (i.e. not an El Niño year).  In other words, the late spring and summer climate in North America is not expected to be influenced by El Niño or its opposite (i.e. La Niña conditions) this year.  However, closer to North America, the sea surface temperatures in the Gulf of Mexico have been warmer than average.  This is consistent with the above average land surface and air temperature observed in the Southeast this spring.  This also may have contributed to the transport of more moist, humid air to the interior Southeast thus increasing spring rainfall in the region.  As a result, additional soil moisture in the interior Southeast may provide more atmospheric moisture for continued above average local precipitation in the region.  This may factor into the outlook for continued above average precipitation in the Southeast.  Whether this will offset the drier than average conditions on the Gulf Coast and Florida remains to be seen. 

USET Climate Program Staff

Casey Thornbrugh is the Tribal Climate Science Liaison with United South and Eastern Tribes (USET) and is a citizen of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe. Based at the Northeast Climate Adaptation Science Center (NE CASC) at UMass-Amherst, Casey provides current climate science information to Tribal Nations in both the NE CASC and the Southeast Climate Adaptation Science Center (SE CASC) regions. Casey also works with Tribal Nations to identify climate research needs and priorities and provide climate adaptation planning support.

Email: CThornbrugh@USETINC.ORG

Phone: NE CASC Office – (413) 545-2619    USET Mobile – (615) 589-1629

Tyler Everett is a Forest Adaptation Technical Assistant working for USET to provide Climate Change and Forest  Adaptation planning technical support to Tribal Nations.  Tyler is a citizen of the Aroostook Band of Micmacs and is a forester specializing in forest pests, namely the Emerald Ash Borer (EAB), which is impacting Black/Brown Ash (Fraxinus nigra) on Tribal lands in northern forests.  Tyler works remotely from Maine and assists with USET Climate Change trainings, writing retreats and other climate change adaptation events. He is also in the Ph.D. program at the School of Forest Resources at the University of Maine.


SC CASC and MW CASC Tribal Liaisons 

April Taylor is a Sustainability Scientist and Tribal Liaison with the South Central Climate Adaptation Science Center (SC CASC) and is a citizen of the Chickasaw Nation. April is based at the University of Oklahoma in Norman, OK and works with the goal of building research relationships with Tribal Nations in the SC CASC region.  She is actively involved with the training and development of resources for Tribal health and climate change vulnerability assessments.


Phone: Office – (580) 235-7430   


Sara Smith is the Midwest Tribal Resilience Liaison with the College of Menominee Nation as part of the Sustainable Development Institute.  She is a direct descendent of the Oneida Nation of Wisconsin.  Sara is stationed at the US Forest Service’s Northern Forest Research Station on the University of Minnesota campus in St. Paul, Minnesota. Sara serves as a direct liaison between Tribal Nations in the Midwest and the NE CASC to identify and address research gaps in climate, natural, and cultural resources as well as improve outreach and capacity building.  Sara also coordinates meetings of the Northeast Indigenous Climate Resilience Network (NICRN). 


Phone: Office – (651) 649-5134


February 2018 Tribal Climate Highlights

January 2018 Tribal Climate Highlights

October 2019 Tribal Climate Headlines