Durango, CO and Truckee, CA –The Climate Atlas, a publicly accessible, user-friendly and first-of-its-kind online mapping tool was launched today to give policy makers, regulators, and advocates clear, understandable, and visual information about the climate, biodiversity, carbon and related characteristics of public lands in the U.S., and help to prioritize new conservation actions.
“The Climate Atlas comes at a critical phase of decision making for how the U.S. will achieve the Biden Administration’s America the Beautiful initiative and address the global and national challenges of climate change and protect the health and diversity of nature,” said Danielle Murray, senior legal and policy director at Conservation Lands Foundation. “Public lands offer the greatest opportunity for federal action and we’ve built what we believe will be an immensely valuable tool and game-changer in how people understand their benefits.”
The Climate Atlas overlays the best-available data and provides an unparalleled view of the climate mitigation and biodiversity protection benefits that public lands across the U.S. can provide. For example, at the map’s intimate scale, it’s possible to see:
Pictured Above: How the unprotected terrain in the Western Arctic has low climate stability while ranking in the top percentages for carbon storage, ecological intactness, and other biodiversity values.
Pictured Above: How a volcanic plateau in the Caja del Rio area outside of Santa Fe, New Mexico plays a key role in helping wildlife species adapt to climate change and is among the top 20% of unprotected public lands with the highest conservation value in the lower 48 U.S. states.
Pictured Above: A look into California's Bodie Hills, unprotected alpine terrain with high ecological intactness and species richness that puts it within the top 10% of all unprotected Bureau of Land Management lands in the state due to its rare biodiversity.
The Climate Atlas offers one of the clearest assessments available of the climate and biodiversity benefits that any given landscape in the U.S. provides. With it, users can:
- View baseline data on the ecological health and status of a landscape, and what the government is currently doing (or not doing) to protect it.
- Identify which public lands offer the best opportunities for storing carbon, preventing species loss, and protecting biodiversity.
- Scan already-protected lands and where oil and gas wells are located.
- Prioritize which public lands to protect based on the values you select.
This tool has been more than a year in the making and was conceived and developed by the Conservation Lands Foundation and Conservation Science Partners. The Climate Atlas is novel in four important ways:
- It focuses on climate, carbon, and biodiversity.
- It includes Alaska, which is not often included in data analyses of this kind.
- It uses a rigorous, peer-reviewed modeling approach to combine indicators.
- It’s designed to directly meet user needs.
"Mitigating the impacts of climate change and stemming the loss of biodiversity are two of the most important conservation challenges facing humanity today" said Dr. Justin Suraci, lead scientist at Conservation Science Partners. "This tool draws on the best available data to provide rigorous, science-based recommendations on which landscapes to prioritize in meeting these crucial goals."
The Climate Atlas is free to use and available online at: https://www.theclimateatlas.org.