Southwest Biological Science Center

Climate Change and Drought

Filter Total Items: 24
Date published: February 25, 2019
Status: Active

Drylands are highly vulnerable to climate and land use changes: what ecosystem changes are in store?

Improper land use during drought has been a major driver of land degradation in drylands globally, especially in the western U.S.  Increasing aridity in western U.S. drylands under future climates will exacerbate risks associated with drought and land use decisions. This project provides critical observational, experimental, and modelling evidence to support our DOI partners with decision...

Date published: October 17, 2018
Status: Active

Digital Soil Mapping: High Resolution Maps for Modern Land Management Decisions

The field of digital soil mapping has bridged the classic theories of soil science into the modern computing age to produce high resolution maps. This body of work utilizes classic soil factorial theory (soil = f[climate, organisms, relief (topography), parent material, time] + ɛ, or ‘clorpt’). The clorpt framework has been approximated using various environmental spatial data layers to...

Date published: September 30, 2018
Status: Active

Wind Erosion and Dust Emissions on the Colorado Plateau

Wind erosion of soils and dust emissions are a significant resource management challenge on the Colorado Plateau. Loss of topsoil and associated aeolian sediment (wind-driven sediment) movement can lead to reduced soil fertility as well as abrasion and burial of vegetation. Dust in the atmosphere poses a threat to human health, visual resources, and regional water supplies (due to interactions...

Date published: September 16, 2018
Status: Active

Long-Term Vegetation Change on the Colorado Plateau

Drylands comprise ~35% of Earth’s terrestrial biomes, with over 1 billion people depending on these landscapes for their livelihoods. In the U.S., drylands comprise ~40% of the landmass and 83% of Department of Interior (DOI)-managed lands (excluding Alaska). Due to their vast extent nationally and globally, changes to these landscapes have the potential to affect global climate regulation. A...

Date published: August 5, 2017
Status: Active

RestoreNet: Distributed Field Trial Network for Dryland Restoration

Recovery from disturbance represents a substantial challenge to agencies that manage large tracts of land in the Southwest. Despite the demand for restoration and rehabilitation, little information is available to help managers effectively reestablish native perennial vegetation and stabilize soils, especially given changing climate and disturbance regimes.

Forestry and agriculture have...

Contacts: Molly McCormick, Seth Munson, Brad Butterfield, Elise Gornish
Date published: April 24, 2017

Colorado Plateau Futures: Understanding Agents of Change on the Colorado Plateau to Facilitate Collaborative Adaptation

The objective of this interdisciplinary research effort is to 1) characterize agents of change important to land management decision makers on the Colorado Plateau; 2) identify and analyze relationships between agents of change and key landscape attributes and processes; 3) collectively assess the influence of agents of change and attributes and processes on the services provided by the...

Date published: February 28, 2017
Status: Active

Southwest Energy Development and Drought (SWEDD)

Deserts of the southwestern US are replete with oil and gas deposits as well as sites for solar, wind, and geothermal energy production. In the past, many of these resources have been too expensive to develop, but increased demand and new technologies have led to an increase in exploration and development. However, desert ecosystems generally have low resilience to disturbance. More frequent,...

Date published: December 29, 2016

A Field Guide to Biological Soil Crusts of Western U.S. Drylands

Biological soil crusts (biocrusts) are commonly found on the soil surface in arid and semi-arid ecosystems (collectively called drylands). Biocrusts can consist of mosses, cyanobacteria, lichens, algae, and microfungi, and they strongly interact with the soil. These organisms or consortium of disparate organisms, depending on the specific biocrust, are important to the functioning of...

Contacts: Jayne Belnap, Matthew Bowker
Date published: December 16, 2016

Restoration and Ecosystem Recovery Dynamics in Arid and Semiarid Landscapes

Dryland regions have been degraded by invasive species, wildfire, overgrazing, agricultural conversion, energy development, recreational activity, and urban growth. These disturbances and others are accelerated by one of the fastest growing human populations in the country and a pressing background of decreasing water availability due to drought and elevated temperatures that are projected to...

Contacts: Seth Munson
Date published: December 16, 2016

Colorado Plateau Native Plant Program Field Trial Study

In the southwest US, monsoon precipitation increases sharply along a northwest to southeast gradient. Pleuraphis jamesii or galleta grass, is an important C4 grass species that spans across this large range in precipitation pattern. In this study we are assessing the ability of galleta grass to adapt to changes in the seasonality of rainfall (termed “plasticity”). In the fall of 2014, we...

Contacts: Mike Duniway, Ph.D., Dave Hoover
Date published: December 15, 2016
Status: Active

Dryland Forest Sustainability

Forests in the semiarid southwestern U.S. are expected to be highly vulnerable to increasing aridity anticipated with climate change.  In particular, low elevation forests and the processes of tree regeneration and mortality are likely to be highly susceptible to climate change.  This work seeks to characterize how, where and when forest ecosystems will change and identify management...

Contacts: John Bradford
Date published: December 15, 2016

Ecohydrology and Climate Change in Drylands

Drylands cover 40% of the global terrestrial surface and provide important ecosystem services. However, climate forecasts in most dryland regions, especially the southwest U.S., call for increasing aridity. Specifically, changing climate will alter soil water availability, which exerts dominant control over ecosystem structure and function in water-limited, dryland ecosystems.  This research...

Contacts: John Bradford