Climate change is altering the amount, timing, and quality of water we receive from winter snow pack. In turn, the resulting effects on forest and aquatic ecosystems of the Mountain West are cascading into further shifts in water supply to downstream farms and cities. As mountain streams change, so too will forests. Fire will play an increasingly important role in shaping forest and stream ecosystems as the climate changes. Historic observations show increased dryness accompanying more widespread fire and forest die-off. These events punctuate gradual changes to ecosystems and sometimes generate stepwise changes.
Luce, C., P. Morgan, K. Dwire, D. Isaak, Z. Holden, B. Rieman. 2012. Climate change, forests, fire, water, and fish: Building resilient landscapes, streams, and managers. Gen. Tech. Rep. RMRS-GTR-290. Fort Collins, CO: USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station. 207 p.