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The Prairie Pothole Region (PPR) of the north-central U.S. and south-central Canada contains millions of small prairie wetlands that provide critical habitat to many migrating and breeding waterbirds. Due to their small size and the relatively dry climate of the region, these wetlands are considered at high risk for negative climate change effects as temperatures increase. To estimate the potential impacts of climate change on breeding waterbirds, we predicted current and future distributions of species common in the PPR using species distribution models (SDMs). We created regional-scale SDMs for the U.S. PPR using Breeding Bird Survey occurrence records for 1971–2011 and wetland, upland, and climate variables....
The habitats and food resources required to support breeding and migrant birds dependent on North American prairie wetlands are threatened by impending climate change. The North American Prairie Pothole Region (PPR) hosts nearly 120 species of wetland-dependent birds representing 21 families. Strategic management requires knowledge of avian habitat requirements and assessment of species most vulnerable to future threats. We applied bioclimatic species distribution models (SDMs) to project range changes of 29 wetland-dependent bird species using ensemble modeling techniques, a large number of General Circulation Models (GCMs), and hydrological climate covariates. For the U.S. PPR, mean projected range change, expressed...
Identifying the climatic drivers of an ecological system is a key step in assessing its vulnerability to climate change. Theclimatic dimensions to which a species or system is most sensitive – such as means or extremes – can guide methodologicaldecisions for projections of ecological impacts and vulnerabilities. However, scientific workflows for combining climateprojections with ecological models have received little explicit attention. We review Global Climate Model (GCM)performance along different dimensions of change and compare frameworks for integrating GCM output into ecologicalmodels. In systems sensitive to climatological means, it is straightforward to base ecological impact assessments onmean projected...
Sediment accumulation threatens the viability and hydrologic functioning of many naturally formed depressional wetlands across the interior regions of North America. These wetlands provide many ecosystem services and vital habitats for diverse plant and animal communities. Climate change may further impact sediment accumulation rates in the context of current land use patterns. We estimated sediment accretion in wetlands within a region renowned for its large populations of breeding waterfowl and migrant shorebirds and examined the relative roles of precipitation and land use context in the sedimentation process. We modeled rates of sediment accumulation from 1971 through 2100 using the Revised Universal Soil Loss...
Climate change poses major challenges for conservation and management because it alters the area, quality, and spatial distribution of habitat for natural populations. To assess species’ vulnerability to climate change and target ongoing conservation investments, researchers and managers often consider the effects of projected changes in climate and land use on future habitat availability and quality and the uncertainty associated with these projections. Here, we draw on tools from hydrology and climate science to project the impact of climate change on the density of wetlands in the Prairie Pothole Region of the USA, a critical area for breeding waterfowl and other wetland-dependent species. We evaluate the potential...