Climate Change in Mountain Ecosystems (CCME)

Climate change is widely acknowledged to be having a profound effect on the biosphere with many and diverse impacts on global resources. Mountain ecosystems in the western U.S. and the Northern Rockies in particular are highly sensitive to climate change. In fact, the higher elevations of the Northern Rockies have experienced three times the global average temperature increase over the past century. These same ecosystems provide up to 85% of the water humans depend on as well as a host of other ecosystem services such as snow-based recreation, timber, unique flora and fauna, and critical habitat for rare and endangered species such as bull trout and grizzly bear. Climate change poses special problems for mountain protected areas, such as national parks and wilderness areas, because most of the land area within their boundaries is at higher elevations. What will be the effects of continued climate change on mountain resources and our national parks? How should managers monitor and react to climate change? To answer these questions, the Northern Rocky Mountain Science Center has been monitoring, conducting research, and modeling ecosystem responses to climatic variability since 1991, first at Glacier National Park but eventually throughout the western U.S. in collaboration with other scientists. Coordination with scientists around the world have led to mountain research networks to expand our understanding of how mountain ecosystems respond to climate change.


In this episode of USGS Climate Connections, CCME scientists Dan Fagre, Greg Pederson, and Erich Peitzsch answer questions gathered from visitors at beautiful Glacier National Park in Montana.