Webinar: Preliminary Results from “La Florida” - A Land of Flowers on a Latitude of Deserts

Science Center Objects

View this webinar to learn more about climate modeling techniques used by ecologists to predict the impacts of climate change on Floridian wildlife.

Date Recorded

Wednesday, February 27, 2013


In this project we down-scaled three global climate models to a regional scale for the southeast United States.  The three GCMs were the Community Climate System Model v3.0, the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory Model v2.1 and the Hadley Center Climate Model v3.0.  We used the Regional Spectral Model to dynamically down scale to approximately 10 x 10 km spatial resolution.  Down scaled climate model outputs include temperature and precipitation at hourly time steps. We validated the down scaling by comparing our results with both station and gridded observational data. For precipitation, we had good agreement in both the seasonal distribution and diurnal patterns.  The down scaling also accurately reproduced the observed patterns in sea breezes over peninsular Florida.  Given the success in down scaling, we then produced “future casts” for the southeast U.S. for the period 2040 – 2070.  Our future casts indicate a hotter and possibly dryer southeast United States. These climate future casts are being used by ecologists in a variety of models to examine potential impacts on organisms to ecosystems. These include the Florida manatee, Snail kites, American crocodile, and Key deer.  The data are also being used to examine the potential expansion of mangrove forests northward where they may replace salt marshes.  Our results indicate possible northward range expansions by Florida’s tropical species.

Dr. Tom Smith has been a Research Ecologist with the Southeast Ecological Science Center of the US Geological Survey since 1994.  He earned his B.Sc. degree in Zoology from the University of Florida in 1976, and the M.Sc. and Ph.D. degrees in Environmental Science from the University of Virginia (1979 and 1983).  He was a Post-Doctoral Scientist and then Staff Scientist at the Australian Institute of Marine Science in Townsville, Australia, from 1984 to 1989.  He served as the Research Coordinator at the Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve from 1990 to 1994.  His research focuses on climate change and climate change impacts on the structure, function and dynamics of coastal wetlands, such as mangrove forests and marshes.  He is particularly interested in sea level rise, disturbance and alterations in temperature and precipitation patterns.   Currently, he is the Lead Principal Investigator on a multi-agency, multi-institution, research project that is applying the results of climate model down-scaling to issues of Everglades’ restoration.


Transcript -- Smith 2.27.13

Learn more about this project here.

View this webinar here