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Institute for Applied Ecosystem Studies

Climate change impacts on terrestrial ecosystems at multiple scales

[photo:] Aspen FACE experiment ring.As we progress further into the 21st century, challenges facing natural resource management will be superimposed upon the resource demands of an increasing human population and a rapidly changing global climate. Unintended consequences of human activities such as atmospheric pollutants, nutrient deposition, and climate change all contribute to stresses and strains upon natural systems that lie well outside of our experience or present understanding. For example, the magnitude of present-day climate change far surpasses any known changes in the climate record of the last 800,000 years. Such climate changes may well produce forest systems unlike any that currently exist. Some consequences will be readily observable, such as fire and insect outbreaks, whereas others, such as species migration or changes in population genetic diversity, may take decades to occur. Even our largest scale experiments, such as the Aspen FACE experiment operated at our Harshaw Research Farm between 1997 and 2009, fall far short of representing long-term, landscape-scale responses of complex ecosystems. We have addressed these issues by defining research goals and studies to scale up our stand level results from climate change experiments to larger land areas and to analyze the impacts of climate change on tree population genetics.

Research Goals

Synthesize and scale up results from the Aspen FACE (Free Air Carbon Dioxide and Ozone Enrichment - FACTS-II) Experiment.

Determine rates of canopy CO2 exchange for northern forests.

Develop a better understanding of population genetic responses to climate change scenarios.

Selected Research

Last Modified: 02/16/2012