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Maintaining the native prairie lands of the Northern Great Plains (NGP), which provide an important habitat for declining grassland species, requires anticipating the effects of increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) concentrations and climate change on the region’s vegetation. Specifically, climate change threatens NGP grasslands by increasing the potential encroachment of native woody species into areas where they were previously only present in minor numbers. This project used a dynamic vegetation model to simulate vegetation type (grassland, shrubland, woodland, and forest) for the NGP for a range of projected future climates and relevant management scenarios. Comparing results of these simulations illustrates...
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The Colorado River is the dominant water source for the southwestern United States, crossing through seven states before reaching Mexico. The river supplies water to approximately 36 million people, irrigates nearly six million acres of farmland within and beyond the basin, and contributes an estimated 26 billion dollars each year to the region’s recreational economy. Yet the Colorado River’s water supply is already fully allocated, meaning that the economic and environmental health of the region is closely tied to the river’s streamflow. Climate projections for the Southwest show a future marked by chronic drought and substantial reductions in streamflow. The region has already been impacted by climate change,...
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To understand potential climate change impacts on ecosystems, water resources, and numerous other natural and managed resources, climate change data and projections must be downscaled from coarse global climate models to much finer resolutions and more applicable formats. This project conducted comparative analyses to better understand the accuracy and properties of these downscaled climate simulations and climate-change projections. Interpretation, guidance and evaluation, including measures of uncertainties, strengths and weaknesses of the different methodologies for each simulation, can enable potential users with the necessary information to select and apply the models.
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Fire in the western U.S. poses one of the greatest threats to human and ecological communities alike. In fact, fire management is the largest single expenditure of land management funds on federal lands. Now, climate change is altering wildfire patterns. Climate change in the West is creating warmer and drier conditions, resulting in an increase in the amount of dead vegetation available to fuel fires. This project sought to assess the vulnerability of forests in the southwestern U.S. to climate change and wildfire, in order to understand how these ecosystems might become altered as a result. Researchers (a) examined how climate change impacts wildfires in the region, to better understand fire risk; (b) identified...
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Karst aquifers—formed when the movement of water dissolves bedrock—are critical groundwater resources in North America. Water moving through these aquifers carves out magnificent caves, sinkholes, and other formations. These formations are home to high concentrations of rare and endangered species, but the hydrological conditions that support these species can change rapidly. Managing these ecosystems into the future requires a better understanding of how climate, hydrology, and karst ecosystems interact. The objective of this project was to determine how species and ecosystems associated with karst might respond to future temperature and precipitation extremes and accompanying changes in groundwater levels and...
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In California, increased wildfire activity has been linked to decreasing snowpack and earlier snowmelt. Not only has this translated into a longer fire season, but reduced snowpack has cascading effects that impact streamflow, water supplies, agricultural productivity, and ecosystems. California receives 80% of its precipitation during the winter, so mountain snowpack plays a critical role in replenishing the state’s water supply. One factor that affects the amount of winter precipitation (and therefore snowpack) in California is the North Pacific Jet (NPJ)—a current of strong, high altitude winds that occur over the northern Pacific Ocean. Winters when the NPJ is located further north than normal are drier than...


    map background search result map search result map Analysis of Downscaled Climate Simulations and Projections and Their Use in Decision Making for the Southwest The Vulnerability of Forests to Climate Change and Wildfire in the Southwestern U.S. Projecting the Future Encroachment of Woody Vegetation into Grasslands of the Northern Great Plains by Simulating Climate Conditions and Possible Management Actions Projecting Future Streamflow in the Colorado River Basin The Influence of the North Pacific Jet Stream on Future Fire in California Evaluating the Impacts of Climate Extremes on Karst Hydrology and Species Vulnerability The Influence of the North Pacific Jet Stream on Future Fire in California Evaluating the Impacts of Climate Extremes on Karst Hydrology and Species Vulnerability Projecting Future Streamflow in the Colorado River Basin Projecting the Future Encroachment of Woody Vegetation into Grasslands of the Northern Great Plains by Simulating Climate Conditions and Possible Management Actions Analysis of Downscaled Climate Simulations and Projections and Their Use in Decision Making for the Southwest The Vulnerability of Forests to Climate Change and Wildfire in the Southwestern U.S.