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There were two workshops, one on the SW Rio Grande Region and one for the Southern Great Plains Region. Subsequently, the two workshop regions were combined and are now the Southern Great Plains/Rio Grande Assessment Region.
SW Rio Grande
The workshop "Tilting the Balance: Climate Variability and Water Resource Management in the Southwest," convened by Congressman Silvestre Reyes (D, TX) at the University of Texas at El Paso in March 1998, was one of the series of US Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) regional climate change workshops. . This series of workshops is seen as an important step in a U.S. national assessment of the potential consequences of climate variability and change. The region is characterized by burgeoning growth, vast expanses of land, limited economic resources, and isolation from other population centers.
Its life and its history are defined by the Rio Grande and its economy is sustained by the water that flows through this river. This area is shaped by its position at the conjunction of three states and an international boundary, limited rainfall (under nine inches per year), and scarce water resources. The focus of the workshop was to inform decision makers from the public and private sectors about climate variability and change and to engage them in discussions, leading to recommendations, about how the region should prepare to deal with the potential changes and to mitigate their consequences.
The Southern Great Plains
The Southern Great Plains region held 2 mini-workshops during 1999. These mini workshops were a part of the series of US Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) regional climate change workshops. This series of workshops is seen as an important step in a U.S. national assessment of the potential consequences of climate variability and change. The Southern Great Plains mini-workshops included: a workshop (May 24-25,1999) in Houston on the application of remote sensing and geographic information system technologies to reducing the impacts of extreme temperatures and precipitation.
Particular attention was given to the design of specific projects that will enhance the use of vegetated landscapes for flood protection, energy management, and other coping strategies for a warmer, wetter climate scenario. In a second workshop in Laredo, Texas, design charettes were developed for a plan for an urban river floodplain restoration project that could benefit economic, education, recreation, and other stakeholder interests.
Issues for Analysis
The assessment considers a limited number of key sectors and issues that are critical in the Southern Great Plains/Rio Grande region. The issues include: Water, Agriculture, Energy, Urban/Community, and International. The Assessment focuses on addressing environmental and socio-economic impacts due to climate changes, recognizing that some of the current stresses in the region are complicating factors.
Strategy for the Assessment
The Southern Great Plains/Rio Grande region utilized the two workshops and a series of research projects as a start in the assessment effort. The primary climate analysis tool is the historical climate record through 1998. The focus is on how urban and agricultural systems respond to climate variability and change. Seasonal to interannual impacts and the value of improved forecasting of El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) are also important focuses. An Assessment document is expected during 2002.