Crystal Stiles

Crystal Stiles

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  • Publications & Presentations
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  • Interests
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  • Courses Taught
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Title Applied Climatologist
Address 3310 Holdrege Street
Lincoln NE
68583-0997
Phone 402-202-3320
E-mail cstiles3@unl.edu
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Hello, my name is Crystal Stiles and I am an Applied Climatologist and Assistant Geoscientist for the High Plains Regional Climate Center (Center (HPRCC) in the School of Natural Resources at UNL. I direct the HPRCC's stakeholder engagement program for the High Plains region and surrounding areas. I coordinate with regional climate partners, evaluate climate data and information needs for stakeholders in the region, identify and exercise opportunities to grow awareness and use of HPRCC's climate data and information, and provide expertise and assistance on National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS) projects related to Drought Early Warning Systems. I also spend part of my time working on projects for National Drought Mitigation Center (NDMC), which is also housed within SNR at UNL. In addition to these duties, I write climate summaries for the region and for several Native American tribes, and I promote the HPRCC through social media and the Center's quarterly newsletter.

I received my Ph.D. in Natural Resource Sciences from UNL in 2014. My specialization was Climate Assessment and Impacts and I worked on projects for the NDMC. My dissertation research involved studying drought planning and management for river basins in the U.S. (please see the Publications & Presentations tab for further information). I received my Bachelor's and Master's degrees from Western Kentucky University in Geography and Geosciences, respectively. I studied drought impacts and planning in Kentucky for my Master's thesis and worked on projects for the Kentucky Mesonet. I also have teaching experience at both UNL and WKU where I taught and assisted with courses in meteorology, climatology, natural resources, and geography.

In my spare time I enjoy spending time with my husband, Josh and my beagle, Ripley. I am a sports fanatic and especially follow Husker football, University of Kentucky basketball, and Cincinnati Reds baseball. I love a good thunderstorm and enjoy photographing nature.

I work remotely from Kentucky, so please call or email me if you would like to get in touch!

Selected Publications

McNeeley, S. M., Dewes, C. F., Stiles, C., Beeton, T. A., Rangwala, I., Hobbins, M. T., Knutson, C. (2017). Anatomy of an Interrupted Irrigation Season: Micro-Drought at the Wind River Indian Reservation. Climate Risk Management. Online
Stiles, C., Hayes, M. J. (2017). Recommendations for Collaborative Drought Management in Transboundary River Basins. Water Resources Impact, 19(3), 3. Online
Smith, K.H., C.J. Stiles, M.J. Hayes, and C.J. Carparelli, 2016: Support for Drought Response and Community Preparedness: Filling the Gaps between Plans and Action. In Water Policy and Planning in a Variable and Changing Climate: 123-139. Online
Shulski, M., Baule, W., Stiles, C., Umphlett, N. A. 2015. A Historical Perspective on Nebraska’s Variable and Changing Climate. Great Plains Research, 25(2):109-120. Online
Stiles, C., Umphlett, N., Rattling Leaf, Sr., J., Shulski, M., Kluck, D., Hayes, M. J., McNutt, C. 2015. Improving Climate Resiliency in Tribal Communities: Partnering for Change in the Missouri River Basin. Water Resources IMPACT. 17(4):15-17.
Bergman, C.J., 2014: Improving Drought Management for Transboundary River Basins in the United States through Collaborative Environmental Planning. Ph.D. dissertation, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, 142 pp. Online
Bathke, D., N. Wall, J. Nothwehr, K. Smith, D. Woudenberg, T. Bernadt, C. Bergman, J. Robine, M. Hayes, M. Svoboda, L. Darby, and R. Pulwarty, 2012: Building a Sustainable Network of Drought Communities. National Integrated Drought Information System Engaging Preparedness Communities Workshop Report, Chicago, Illinois, 37 pp. Online
Bergman, C.J., 2009: A Survey of Drought Impacts and Mitigation Planning in Kentucky. Master's thesis, Western Kentucky University, Paper 95, 178 pp. Online

 

Selected Presentations

Building Capacity with Tribal Communities in the Missouri River Basin to Use Climate Information for Decision Making
  • Presentation Type: Poster Presentation
  • Date: 4/13/2018
  • Abstract: Federal, tribal, state, and local entities are increasingly recognizing the need for integrating climate information into decision making, as it can help communities reduce their vulnerability to climate change and extreme events. In particular, tribal communities are especially at risk with respect to changes in climate and are seeking to make informed decisions related to climate impacts, as well as build a climate record for tribal lands. The High Plains Regional Climate Center has engaged with tribes on a regular basis since 2011 with the primary goal of providing training and expertise to tribal environmental professionals to help them build capacity to use climate information for decision making. The purpose of this presentation is to describe the various methods that have been used to accomplish this task. Such methods include: 1) delivering hands-on, interactive climate data and information training workshops, 2) co-producing region-specific climate summaries with tribal professionals, and 3) developing online decision dashboards that contain web links to useful climate information. This work has continued to generate interest among tribal communities in the Missouri River Basin, as well as the Northern Plains, and it has led to additional projects and collaborations.
  • Full Citation:
Developing a Drought Scenario for Threat and Hazard Identification and Risk Assessment (THIRA)
  • Presentation Type: Oral Presentation
  • Date: 6/28/2017
  • Abstract: Hazards come in many varieties and threaten the livelihood of communities across the country. It has become apparent that communities that understand their risks to hazards and plan accordingly are more resilient and better prepared to handle them. One method that has been used to increase preparedness is the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Threat and Hazard Identification and Risk Assessment (THIRA) model. THIRA is a process designed to help a community address risk from a hazard by assessing the 32 core capabilities identified in the National Preparedness Goal. Examples of these core capabilities include Community Resilience, Public Information and Warning, Operational Coordination, Economic Recovery, and Long-Term Vulnerability Reduction. Most hazards that are assessed using the THIRA model occur during a specific time period, affect a clearly-defined area, and cause impacts that are easy to identify. However, one hazard that does not fit any of these criteria is drought. Drought is unique due to its creeping nature, ambiguous spatial and temporal extents, and complex relationships between impacts. Consequently, drought is not easily addressed by the THIRA process. The NOAA Sectoral Applications Research Program funded a project proposed by the University of Nebraska Public Policy Center, the National Drought Mitigation Center (NDMC), and the High Plains Regional Climate Center (HPRCC) to address this issue. A large part of the project focuses on the development of a drought scenario by the NDMC and HPRCC project personnel to be considered by stakeholders at a THIRA workshop where selected core capabilities will be assessed for drought. The regional scope of the scenario is the Platte River Basin in Nebraska, a watershed that serves many competing uses and is a critical surface water resource for the state. Based on input from the project’s stakeholder advisory group, the scenario will include a multi-year drought with severe impacts on water resources, as well as simultaneously-occurring impacts on other key sectors such as agriculture, ecosystems, and public health. The scenario will provide supporting climate and impact data from federal and state agencies, and NDMC and HPRCC tools will be utilized as well. The two centers will incorporate lessons learned from the workshop into a decision support toolkit that can be used by planners with limited scientific background and customized to other regions.
  • Full Citation:
Increasing Resilience of Tribal Communities through Climate Data Training and Production of Climate Summaries
  • Presentation Type: Oral Presentation
  • Date: 5/10/2017
  • Abstract: The High Plains Regional Climate Center (HPRCC) has a rich history of engaging with Native American Tribes throughout the Missouri River Basin on climate issues. A recent project developing quarterly climate summaries for tribal lands incorporated climate capacity building sessions, which have enabled tribal professionals to obtain and interpret climate data and information for use in decision making. This initiative began with the Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho tribes of Wind River in Wyoming in collaboration with the HPRCC, the National Drought Mitigation Center (NDMC), the North Central Climate Science Center, and the National Integrated Drought Information System. The impetus for this project stemmed from a recognition by the tribes of vulnerabilities that were revealed through extreme events that occurred on the reservation, such as flooding and drought, and the need for improving climate monitoring and decision support. Subsequently, the HPRCC and the NDMC held a workshop to train technicians from the Office of the Tribal Water Engineer on how to obtain and interpret climate data and information used in the summary so that they could begin producing the climate summaries themselves. This initial project has generated interest among other tribes and tribal organizations in the Missouri Basin, such as the Great Plains Tribal Water Alliance, who obtained funding for a climate adaptation project from the Bureau of Indian Affairs to work with the HPRCC and other partners to develop similar summaries and provide training on climate data and information.
  • Full Citation:
Building Capacity with Tribes in the Missouri River Basin: An Example of Engaging a Community on Climate Issues
  • Presentation Type: Poster Presentation
  • Date: 6/28/2016
  • Abstract:
  • Full Citation:
Communicating Climate Science to Inform Natural Resource Management Decisions among Native American Communities in the Missouri River Basin
  • Presentation Type: Oral Presentation
  • Date: 1/11/2016
  • Abstract: Native American communities have contended with climate variability and extremes for a very long time, and they possess valuable traditional knowledge that has enhanced their resiliency to such climate conditions. However, current limited resources and capacity to adapt to a rapidly changing climate will likely increase their vulnerability to climate extremes and their associated impacts. Several tribes in the Missouri River Basin have noted climate and water data needs and gaps and have expressed interest in increasing climate monitoring and promoting drought management on their lands. Additionally, some tribes have expressed a desire to learn basic climate and drought science, as well as how to obtain and interpret climate data, for the purpose of informing decision making concerning natural resource management. The High Plains Regional Climate Center (HPRCC) and several other collaborators have been working over the last year with the Northern Arapaho and Eastern Shoshone tribes of the Wind River Indian Reservation in western Wyoming to identify their needs related to climate, water, and drought information, and furthermore address those needs by providing education and training to transfer knowledge to the tribes. The HPRCC and the National Drought Mitigation Center held a training, funded by the National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS), in July 2015 for technicians from the Wind River Tribal Water Engineer’s Office to teach them how to systematically assess local climate conditions, including impacts and climate outlooks. The ultimate goal of this training was to increase their capacity to manage their resources under adverse climate conditions that will ultimately help them make more informed decisions about their natural resources. It is expected that this climate education and training will be expanded to involve other interested tribes in the Missouri River Basin, including tribes with lands in Northeast Kansas and Nebraska.
  • Full Citation:
Building Capacity for Climate Monitoring with Tribal Nations in the Missouri River Basin
  • Presentation Type: Oral Presentation
  • Date: 6/26/2015
  • Abstract:
  • Full Citation:
Building Capacity for Climate Monitoring and Drought Management on the Wind River Indian Reservation
  • Presentation Type: Oral Presentation
  • Date: 3/25/2015
  • Abstract: Tribal communities often face unique challenges regarding natural resources management, which in turn increases their vulnerability to climate change and extreme climatic events. Challenges such as climate variability due to mountainous terrain, the occurrence of both extreme drought and significant flooding over a short time span, and water rights issues have prompted the Northern Arapaho and Eastern Shoshone tribes of the Wind River Indian Reservation in west-central Wyoming to take action. The High Plains Regional Climate Center, in collaboration with the National Drought Mitigation Center, the North Central Climate Science Center/Colorado State University, the National Climatic Data Center, and the National Integrated Drought Information System, are working with stakeholders on the reservation to increase the tribes’ resilience to drought and other climatic events. The primary role of the High Plains Regional Climate Center is to provide support and expertise regarding climate monitoring on the reservation, as well as to produce a quarterly climate and drought summary for producers, ranchers, and water managers to use as a decision-support tool. A workshop was conducted on the reservation in October 2014 to solicit feedback on the summary and to discuss the reservation’s current and potential climate monitoring capabilities. It was determined that a second workshop would be tentatively scheduled in late winter 2015 to discuss drought planning and additional climate monitoring needs for the reservation. It is also anticipated that the climate and drought summary will become operational in March 2015, as this is a critical time of year for the reservation’s water managers to make decisions about water allocation for the upcoming season.
  • Full Citation:
Improving Drought Management for Transboundary River Basins in the United States through Collaborative Environmental Planning
  • Presentation Type: Dissertation Defense
  • Date: 3/31/2014
  • Abstract:

    Increasing demand for water and the uncertainty of climate change have put pressure on the global water supply, presenting one of the greatest challenges of the 21st Century for human development. Drought is a natural hazard that further compromises water supply and increases competition among water use sectors, although it is considered to be a normal part of climate. These challenges confirm the need for comprehensive water supply and drought planning. Planning for water, however, is often conducted within political boundaries that are not consistent with the water resource's natural boundaries, which can result in conflict. Collaborative environmental planning is a relatively new sub discipline of planning that can address the occurrence of drought in a transboundary river basin. While international-level transboundary water resources planning has been well addressed by the literature, little research has been done to explore this type of planning at the U.S. state level. This research answers the following question: How are water planning agencies using collaborative planning to improve the management of drought in transboundary basins in the U.S.?

    To address this question, transboundary basins in the U.S. that are planning for drought were identified, and basin-level drought planners were interviewed about drought management strategies, the role of collaboration and coordination in the planning process, and recommendations for drought planning in a transboundary basin based on experiences with successes and barriers. It was found that while the drought planning process is similar for all basins, each basin implements drought management strategies that are unique to their circumstances in the basin. The research also found that collaboration and coordination are necessary components of drought planning for transboundary basins. Recommendations made by interview participants based on their experiences with successes and barriers centered upon collaboration and coordination, communication, government and legal matters, the planning process, and stakeholders. Further research is recommended to determine the necessity of having an institution for coordination to assist with planning in a transboundary basin.

Educational Background

  • BS - Western Kentucky University, Geography (2005)
  • Other - Western Kentucky University, Geographic Information Systems Certificate (2009)
  • MS - Western Kentucky University, Geoscience (2009)
  • PhD - University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Natural Resource Sciences with a Specialization in Climate Assessment and Impacts (2014)

Awards

  • 2017 – Chancellor's Award for Employee Wellness awarded by UNL Wellness Team 
  • 2017 – Honorable Mention Climate Adaptation Leadership Award awarded by National Fish, Wildlife, and Plant Climate Adaptation Strategy's Joint Implementation Working Group 
  • 2016 – Chancellor's Award for Employee Wellness awarded by UNL Wellness Team 
  • 2006 – Ronald R. Dilamarter Outstanding Geography Senior Award awarded by Dept. of Geography & Geology, Western Kentucky University 

SNR Program Area(s)

  • Applied Climate and Spatial Science

Affiliations (index)

Professional Organizations

Notable Websites

Areas of Interest

  • Drought impacts
  • Drought planning
  • Applied climatology
  • Climate services
  • Climate Change
  • Weather

Currently this page only displays grants that were awarded on 1/1/2009 to the present. If a grant was awarded prior to 1/1/2009 and is still active, it will not be displayed on this page.

Grant Title 16th Annual Climate Prediction Applications Science Workshop (CPASW)
Starting Date 4/20/2018
Principal Investigators
Crystal Stiles
Ending Date
Funding Level $500.00
Funding Source IANR Travel Funds

 
Grant Title Great Plains Tribal Water Alliance Climate Partnership: Development of Water Resource Vulnerability Assessments to Build Tribal Resilience
Starting Date 10/1/2016
Principal Investigators
Crystal Stiles
Co-PIs
Natalie Umphlett
Ending Date 9/30/2018
Funding Level $40,000.00
Funding Source Great Plains Tribal Water Alliance

 
Grant Title Great Plains Tribal Water Alliance Climate Partnership: Development of Water Resource Vulnerability Assessments to Build Tribal Resilience Category 1
Starting Date 10/1/2016
Principal Investigators
Crystal Stiles
Co-PIs
Natalie Umphlett
Ending Date 9/30/2018
Funding Level $42,000.00
Funding Source Great Plains Tribal Water Alliance

 
Grant Title AWR: Tribal Climate Summaries
Starting Date 9/1/2016
Principal Investigators
Natalie Umphlett
Co-PIs
Crystal Stiles
Ending Date 8/31/2017
Funding Level $60,000.00
Funding Source National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration