Impacts and Vulnerability: Climate, Ecosystem Processes, and Vegetation in the NC CSC Region: Ecological Impacts Foundational
Rates of climate change vary across the Great Plains and Rocky Mountains as do the responses of ecosystems to these changes. Knowledge of locations of rapid climate change and changes in ecosystem services such as water runoff and ecological productivity are important for crafting locally relevant adaptation strategies to cope with these changes. This project will assess how climate, ecosystem processes, and vegetation have changed over the past half century and how they are projected to change in the coming century under various future scenarios. These analyses will be done across the full extent of the NC CSC in order to depict broad spatial patterns of change. They will also be done within more local areas and centered areas of natural vegetation cover such as public lands and Native American lands and the surrounding private lands. These areas of natural vegetation provide ecosystem services important to surrounding residents and knowledge of local patterns of climate and ecological change are important to local resource managers. The results of the project will be used by the NC CSC Adaptation team to work with local stakeholders to develop strategies for coping with and adapting to the projected changes.The goal of the proposed work is to assess the vulnerability of forest and grasslandvegetation to climate change and drought in the greater ecosystems centered on public and Native American lands across the North Central Climate Science Center (NC CSC) domain. Objectives are as follows.1. Quantify change in the spatial patterns of natural cover types as influenced by land use intensification for 2000 to present and projected to 2100.2. Summarize the responses of ecological processes to past (1950-present) andprojected (2010-2100) climate change.3. Develop species habitat distribution models for dominant forest / shrubspecies and project species habitat suitability under IPCC climate scenarios.4. Statistically relate grassland phenology to climate, soils, and landform andproject potential changes in grassland phenology under IPCC climate scenarios.5. Synthesize the results from Objectives 1-3 in the form of vulnerabilityassessments for major greater wildland ecosystems in the NC CSC domain.