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Research Highlight: Extended Monitoring and Modeling of Climate Change Effects on Pacific Northwest Wetlands


08/13/2013

Extended Monitoring and Modeling of Climate Change Effects on Pacific Northwest Wetlands

Principal Investigator: Joshua Lawler, University of Washington 
Co-principal Investigator: Alan Hamlet, University of Notre Dame

lawlerforest

Project Description:
Wetlands are ecologically important yet at-risk ecosystems. Wetlands provide critical services for natural communities and human society, including nutrient cycling, wildlife provisioning, water storage & filtration, carbon sequestration, agriculture & recreation, and core habitat for a wide range of species. Wetlands challenge our current scientific capacity because of their sheer number (10,000’s-100,000’s for the Pacific Northwest alone), their wide range of sizes (<100 to >10,000 m2), and dynamic nature (intermittent to permanent). They are also thought to be among the most sensitive ecosystems to climate change via changes in temperature and precipitation and resulting changes in hydroperiod and water temperature. Our research aims to develop new approaches and technical tools that are needed to support the conservation and sustainable management of wetlands in a changing climate. These include: 1) new methods for mapping wetlands and monitoring and reconstructing wetland hydroperiod using remote- sensing approaches, 2) the first generation of projections of hydrologic impacts to Pacific Northwest wetlands under climate change, 3) field-based hydrologic monitoring of wetlands in three PNW ecoregions, and 4) integration of 1-3 with ecological data to forecast climate change impacts to wetland ecosystems. We are particularly interested in the effects of climate change on amphibians such as the Cascades frog.

You can listen to a recent National Public Radio story about our research on Cascades frogs and climate change here: http://www.npr.org/2013/08/07/209892263/climate-change-could-spell-final-chuckle-for-alpine-frog

This project is supported by the Department of the Interior Northwest Climate Science Center. For more information about the project, please visit its online project page or download a pdf version of the project overview.


Photo credit: Maureen Ryan