The NC CASC Rapid Climate Assessment Program (RCAP) aims to create a series of Rapid Climate Assessments (RCAs) which are a synthesis of science information that can be used as a baseline for further research and a foundation for future stakeholder engagement. These RCAs include key elements of collaborative climate adaptation science, including co-production by stakeholders and researchers, status and vulnerability assessments, and identification of challenges and solutions for the given topic.

Each RCA project is led by a team that includes NC CASC research scientists and graduate research assistants (GRAs). The Summer 2023 RCAP topics and teams are: 


  • Synthesis of Climate Change Impacts on the Mixed/Tall-Grass Prairie Ecosystems in the Northern Great Plains: Imtiaz Rangwala (NC CASC Lead), Kyra Clark-Wolf (NC CASC Co-Lead), Sam Ahler (GRA), Cami Dixon (US FWS) and Chelsea Nagy (NC RISCC) 
  • Synthesis of Climate Adaptation in Mountain Ecosystems in the North Central Region: Imtiaz Rangwala (NC CASC Lead), Kyra Clark-Wolf (NC CASC Assisting), Meagan Oldfather (USGS Co-Lead) and Aly Ennis (GRA)
  • Synthesis of Social Science Related to Resource Management and Climate Change in the Great Plains: Christy Miller Hesed (NC CASC Lead), Heather Yocum (NC CASC Co-Lead) and Sarah Gonzalez Coffin (GRA)
  • Supporting Grassland Managers to Conserve Grassland Ecosystems and Adapt to Climate Change in the North Central Region: Heather Yocum (NC CASC Lead), Christy Miller Hesed (NC CASC Co-Lead) and Elizabeth Woolner (GRA)
  • Grasslands GIS: Heather Yocum (NC CASC Lead), Christy Miller Hesed (NC CASC Co-Lead) and Sarah Jaffe (GRA)
  • Examination of Large-Scale Drivers of Water Availability in the US Great Plains: Imtiaz Rangwala (NC CASC Lead) and Prasad Thota (GRA)
  • Ecologically and/or Infrastructurally Impactful Weather and Climate Extremes in the North Central Region: Bill Travis (NC CASC Lead) and Elizabeth Bannister (Undergrad RA)  

Rapid Climate Assessment Program

The Prairie Pothole Region (PPR) spans ~170 million acres in the northern Great Plains. The region is characterized by mixed-grass and tallgrass prairies, composed of native cool- season (C3) and warm-season (C4) grasses, interspersed with abundant wetlands or “potholes.” To safeguard biodiversity and maintain wildlife habitat, grassland conservation is a management priority on the nearly 1 million acres of National Wildlife Refuge System lands in the region.
Mountain systems in the North Central region have experienced rising temperatures that are amplified at higher elevation, dramatic and spatially variable decreases in snowpack (including higher rates of wintertime melt), retreating glaciers and permafrost loss, and consistently earlier annual ice loss in alpine lakes. These changes in climate have occurred against a backdrop of highly variable and extreme mountain climate.
Known for its agricultural productivity and vital ecosystems, the Great Plains' vast expanse plays a significant role in supporting human livelihoods, wildlife, and natural resources. Understanding processes and their drivers is of paramount importance in the face of increasing water demands, growing environmental challenges, and the uncertainties associated with future climate change.
The goal of this RCAP is to support the grasslands synthesis project by discussing findings with grasslands managers while building relationships with individuals and agencies.
This research investigated interdisciplinary solutions and responses to climate change for grassland managers in North Central USA.
Alpine and treeline systems are very heterogeneous. A reduction of physical area at higher elevations, the sensitivity of alpine species to climate, and low connectivity make them particularly vulnerable to climate change. With climate change, we’re seeing elevation-dependent warming, loss of snowpack, and increased glacial and permafrost melt.