USDA Forest Service

Pacific Southwest Research Station

Pacific Southwest
Research Station

800 Buchanan Street
Albany, CA 94710-0011
(510) 883-8830
United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service. USDA logo which links to the department's national site. Forest Service logo which links to the agency's national site.

Research Topics Ecosystem Processes

Sierra Nevada Ecosystems

Climate and Landscape Change

Climate has a profound influence in shaping the environment, natural resources, the economy, and other aspects of life throughout the world. High mountain systems, such as the Sierra Nevada, are uniquely sensitive to anticipated global climate changes and act as "canaries in the coal mine" to provide early signals of significant climate-driven changes. The Sierra Nevada Research Center is responding to this environmental issue with a research team that addresses issues ranging from basic research on ecological response to climate and landscape change to applications in national forest management, conservation, and restoration.

Subproblem 1: High-Elevation Forest Response to Climate Variability of the Past 4000 Years.

Tioga crest and Dana LakeOne particular emphasis for SNRC is on upper montane and subalpine habitats of the Sierra Nevada. In these areas, other ecological forces such as fire and disease play lesser or more readily defined roles than in mid- and low-elevation communities, and thus the role of climate may be discerned with clarity. Because global and regional climates cycle on century-long scales, current and future changes cannot be understood except in the context of background oscillations and their ecological impacts. Research studies of the SNRC Team seeks to improve understanding of the fundamental effects, magnitudes, and interactions of century-scale climate change on high-elevation Sierra Nevada forests.

blue arrrow Regional Climate Variability and High-Elevation Forest Response Over the Past 4000 Years

blue arrrow Rock Glaciers and Periglacial Rock-Ice Features in the Sierra Nevada

blue arrrow Medieval Forests, Volcanism, and Response to Climate

blue arrrow 1000 Years of Forest History in the Glass Creek Watershed, Eastern Sierra Nevada

blue arrrow Genetic Variability in Pinus albicaulis at Treeline in Relation to Patch Age, Vegetative Layering, and Climate Variability

blue arrrow The Impact of the Neogene (late Tertiary) on Biogeography and Evolution of Conifers in Western North America

blue arrrow Quaternary Biogeography of Pacific Southwest Tree Species

Subproblem 2: 20th and 21st Century Climate Effects on Montane Forest and Meadow Ecosystem

Glass Creek Meadow Research at this scale serves both basic and applied needs. The foundational research on historic pattern and process provides the context to understand interannual- to decadal- change in the 20th and 21st centuries. The SNRC Team strives to understand short-term natural and anthropogenic climate changes, their effects on mid and high-elevation vegetation, and impacts relative to other ecological drivers of change. At this scale, complex interactions with human land-use, both modern, and historic, confound evaluations of ecological trends, and the SNRC Team plans studies that enable these multiple influences to be unraveled.

blue arrrow Response of Subalpine Conifers to 20th Century Climate Variability in the Sierra Nevada

Subproblem 3: Interpretations of Available Scientific Information and Applications to Ecological Restoration, Conservation and Management

Above Mono LakeIn addition to coordinated research efforts described above, the SNRC Climate and Landscape Research Team has a major emphasis to develop the infrastructure and support, and to interpret and apply climate change knowledge to societal benefit. These efforts are conducted as individual case studies, as well as proposed integrated assessments that the SNRC is spearheading. Proposed interdisciplinary studies would integrate scientists within and outside the Center and involve participation from the management community.

blue arrrow CIRMOUNT-- The Consortium for Integrated Climate Research in Western Mountains

Last Modified: Aug 29, 2016 10:56:49 AM