Climate Change and...

Annotated Bibliography

Effects of Climate Change

Wetlands

Thompson, R.S. (1992). Late Quaternary environments of Ruby Valley, Nevada. Quaternary Research 37 (1): 1-15

ABSTRACT: Palynological data from sediment cores from the Ruby Marshes provide a record of environmental and climatic changes over the last 40,000 yr. The modern marsh waters are fresh, but no deeper than ~3 m. A shallow saline lake occupied this basin during the middle Wisconsin, followed by fresh and perhaps deep waters by 18,000 to 15,000 yr B.P. No sediments were recovered for the period between 15,000 and 11,000 yr B.P., possibly due to lake desiccation. By 10,800 yr B.P. a fresh-water lake was again present, and deeper-than-modern conditions lasted until 6800 yr B.P. The middle Holocene was characterized by very shallow water, and perhaps complete desiccation. The marsh system deepened after 4700 yr B.P., and fresh-water conditions persisted until modern times. Vegetation changes in Ruby Valley were more gradual than those seen in the paleolimnological record. Sagebrush steppe was more widespread than at present through the late Pleistocene and early Holocene, giving way somewhat to expanded shadscale vegetation between 8500 and 6800 yr B.P. Shadscale steppe contracted by 4000 yr B.P., but had greater than modern coverage until 1000 to 500 yr ago. Pinyon-juniper woodland was established in the southern Ruby Mountains by 4700 yr B.P.

Oviatt, C.G., D. B. Madsen, D. N. Schmitt (2003). Late Pleistocene and early Holocene rivers and wetlands in the Bonneville basin of western North America. Quaternary Research 60 (2): 200-210

ABSTRACT: Field investigations at Dugway Proving Ground in western Utah have produced new data on the chronology and human occupation of late Pleistocene and early Holocene lakes, rivers, and wetlands in the Lake Bonneville basin. We have classified paleo-river channels of these ages as "gravel channels" and "sand channels." Gravel channels are straight to curved, digitate, and have abrupt bulbous ends. They are composed of fine gravel and coarse sand, and are topographically inverted (i.e., they stand higher than the surrounding mudflats). Sand channels are younger and sand filled, with well-developed meander-scroll morphology that is truncated by deflated mudflat surfaces. Gravel channels were formed by a river that originated as overflow from the Sevier basin along the Old River Bed during the late regressive phases of Lake Bonneville (after 12,500 and prior to 11,00014 C yr B.P.). Dated samples from sand channels and associated fluvial overbank and wetland deposits range in age from 11,000 to 880014 C yr B.P., and are probably related to continued Sevier-basin overflow and to groundwater discharge. Paleoarchaic foragers occupied numerous sites on gravel-channel landforms and adjacent to sand channels in the extensive early Holocene wetland habitats. Reworking of tools and limited toolstone diversity is consistent with theoretical models suggesting Paleoarchaic foragers in the Old River Bed delta were less mobile than elsewhere in the Great Basin.

F. M. Conly, G. van der Kamp, (2001). Monitoring the hydrology of Canadian prairie wetlands to detect the effects of climate change and land use changes. Journal Environmental Monitoring and Assessment 67 (1-2): 195-215

ABSTRACT: There are millions of small isolated wetlands in the semi-arid Canadian prairies. These 'sloughs' are refuges for wildlife in an area that is otherwise intensively used for agriculture. They are particularly important as waterfowl habitat, with more than half of all North American ducks nesting in prairie sloughs. The water levels and ecology of the wetlands are sensitive to atmospheric change and to changes of agricultural practices in the surrounding fields. Monitoring of the hydrological conditions of the wetlands across the region is vital for detecting long-term trends and for studying the processes that control the water balance of the wetlands. Such monitoring therefore requires extensive regional-scale data complemented by intensive measurements at a few locations. At present, wetlands are being enumerated across the region once each year and year-round monitoring is being carried out at a few locations. The regional-scale data can be statistically related to regional climate data, but such analyses cast little light on the hydrological processes and have limited predictive value when climate and land use are changing. The intensive monitoring network has provided important insights but it now needs to be expanded and revised to meet new questions concerning the effects of climate change and land use.

Winter, T. C. (2000). The vulnerability of wetlands to climate change: a hydrologic landscape perspective. Journal of the American Water Resources Association 36 (2): 305-311

ABSTRACT: The vulnerability of wetlands to changes in climate depends on their position within hydrologic landscapes. Hydrologic landscapes are defined by the flow characteristics of ground water and surface water and by the interaction of atmospheric water, surface water, and ground water for any given locality or region. Six general hydrologic landscapes are defined; mountainous, plateau and high plain, broad basins of interior drainage, riverine, flat coastal, and hummocky glacial and dune. Assessment of these landscapes indicate that the vulnerability of all wetlands to climate change fall between two extremes: those dependent primarily on precipitation for their water supply are highly vulnerable, and those dependent primarily on discharge from regional ground water flow systems are the least vulnerable, because of the great buffering capacity of large ground water flow systems to climate change.

A. Britta, K. Sannel, P. Kuhry (2008). Long-term stability of permafrost in subarctic peat plateaus, west-central Canada. The Holocene 18 (4): 589-601

ABSTRACT: Long-term vegetation succession and permafrost dynamics in subarctic peat plateaus of west-central Canada have been studied through detailed plant macrofossil analysis and extensive AMS radiocarbon dating of two peat profiles. Peatland inception at these sites occurred around 5800–5100 yr BP (6600–5900 cal. BP) as a result of paludification of upland forests. At the northern peat plateau site, located in the continuous permafrost zone, palaeobotanical evidence suggests that permafrost was already present under the forested upland prior to peatland development. Paludification was initiated by permafrost collapse, but re-aggradation of permafrost occurred soon after peatland inception. At the southern site, located in the discontinuous permafrost zone, the aggradation of permafrost occurred soon after peatland inception. In the peat plateaus, permafrost conditions have remained very stable until present. Sphagnum fuscum-dominated stages have alternated with more xerophytic communities characterized by ericaceous shrubs. Local peat fires have occurred, but most of these did not cause degradation of the permafrost. Starting from 2800–1100 yr BP (2900–1000 cal. BP) consistently dry surface conditions have prevailed, possibly related to continued frost heave or nearby polygon crack formation.

W. K. Michener, E. R. Blood, K. L. Bildstein, M. M. Brinson, L. R. Gardner (1997). Climate change, hurricanes and tropical storms, and rising sea level in coastal wetlands. Ecologcial Applications 7 (3): 770-801

ABSTRACT: Global climate change is expected to affect temperature and precipitation patterns, oceanic and atmospheric circulation, rate of rising sea level, and the frequency, intensity, timing, and distribution of hurricanes and tropical storms. The magnitude of these projected physical changes and their subsequent impacts on coastal wetlands will vary regionally. Coastal wetlands in the southeastern United States have naturally evolved under a regime of rising sea level and specific patterns of hurricane frequency, intensity, and timing. A review of known ecological effects of tropical storms and hurricanes indicates that storm timing, frequency, and intensity can alter coastal wetland hydrology, geomorphology, biotic structure, energetics, and nutrient cycling. Research conducted to examine the impacts of Hurricane Hugo on colonial waterbirds highlights the importance of long-term studies for identifying complex interactions that may otherwise be dismissed as stochastic processes.

Rising sea level and even modest changes in the frequency, intensity, timing, and distribution of tropical storms and hurricanes are expected to have substantial impacts on coastal wetland patterns and processes. Persistence of coastal wetlands will be determined by the interactions of climate and anthropogenic effects, especially how humans respond to rising sea level and how further human encroachment on coastal wetlands affects resource exploitation, pollution, and water use. Long-term changes in the frequency, intensity, timing, and distribution of hurricanes and tropical storms will likely affect biotic functions (e.g., community structure, natural selection, extinction rates, and biodiversity) as well as underlying processes such as nutrient cycling and primary and secondary productivity.

Reliable predictions of global-change impacts on coastal wetlands will require better understanding of the linkages among terrestrial, aquatic, wetland, atmospheric, oceanic, and human components. Developing this comprehensive understanding of the ecological ramifications of global change will necessitate close coordination among scientists from multiple disciplines and a balanced mixture of appropriate scientific approaches. For example, insights may be gained through the careful design and implementation of broad-scale comparative studies that incorporate salient patterns and processes, including treatment of anthropogenic influences. Well-designed, broad-scale comparative studies could serve as the scientific framework for developing relevant and focused long-term ecological research, monitoring programs, experiments, and modeling studies. Two conceptual models of broad-scale comparative research for assessing ecological responses to climate change are presented: utilizing space-for-time substitution coupled with long-term studies to assess impacts of rising sea level and disturbance on coastal wetlands, and utilizing the moisture-continuum model for assessing the effects of global change and associated shifts in moisture regimes on wetland ecosystems. Increased understanding of climate change will require concerted scientific efforts aimed at facilitating interdisciplinary research, enhancing data and information management, and developing new funding strategies.

D. W. Schindler (2001). The cumulative effects of climate warming and other human stresses on Canadian freshwaters in the new millennium. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 58 (1): 18-29

ABSTRACT: Climate warming will adversely affect Canadian water quality and water quantity. The magnitude and timing of river flows and lake levels and water renewal times will change. In many regions, wetlands will disappear and water tables will decline. Habitats for cold stenothermic organisms will be reduced in small lakes. Warmer temperatures will affect fish migrations in some regions. Climate will interact with overexploitation, dams and diversions, habitat destruction, non-native species, and pollution to destroy native freshwater fisheries. Acute water problems in the United States and other parts of the world will threaten Canadian water security. Aquatic communities will be restructured as the result of changes to competition, changing life cycles of many organisms, and the invasions of many non-native species. Decreased water renewal will increase eutrophication and enhance many biogeochemical processes. In poorly buffered lakes and streams, climate warming will exacerbate the effects of acid precipitation. Decreases in dissolved organic carbon caused by climate warming and acidification will cause increased penetration of ultraviolet radiation in freshwaters. Increasing industrial agriculture and human populations will require more sophisticated and costly water and sewage treatment. Increased research and a national water strategy offer the only hope for preventing a freshwater crisis in Canada.

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