Climate Change in Mountain Ecosystems (CCME)

Glacier Research

Glacier Research

Scientists are studying the park’s receding glaciers to examine the mechanisms of change and assess their ecological and hydrological effects using aerial photography, remote sensing, and field measurements.

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Snow and Avalanche Research

Snow and Avalanche Research

Snow avalanche research contributes to our understanding of climate variability and its effect on snowpack and natural avalanche cycles.  Evaluation of snowpack characteristics continue to refine our understanding of wet snow avalanches.

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Alpine Vegetation Research

Alpine Vegetation Research

The USGS provides oversight of plant inventories in Glacier National Park that contribute to global biodiversity monitoring through partnership with Global Observation Research Initiative in Alpine Environments network.

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Science Center Objects

Climate change is widely acknowledged to have a profound effect on the biosphere and cryosphere with many and diverse impacts on global resources. Mountain ecosystems in the western U.S., and the U.S. Northern Rocky Mountains in particular, are highly sensitive to climate change. Warming in western Montana is nearly 2 times greater than the rise in global temperatures over the last 100+ years (Pederson et al, 2010). In these mountainous areas, snowmelt provides almost 70% of the water that humans living in the western U.S. depend on (Li et. Al 2017). Additionally, they provide a host of other ecosystem services such as snow-based recreation, timber, habitat for unique flora and fauna, as well as habitat for species of conservation concern like bull trout and grizzly bear. USGS scientists with the Climate Change in Mountain Ecosystems (CCME) group, in conjunction with collaborators across the globe, study the connection between climate and snow on the landscape.  Since 1991, studies of climate variability on glaciers, avalanche cycles, and patterns of snow distribution have provided land managers with data to make management decisions for future generations.