IAB Research Project Description

Development and Application of an Integrated Ecosystem Model for Alaska

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Ongoing climate change throughout Alaska has the potential to affect terrestrial ecosystems and the services that they provide to the people of Alaska and the nation. These services include the provisioning of food and fiber by Alaskan ecosystems, the importance of ecosystems to recreation, cultural, and spiritual activities of people in Alaska, and the role Alaska ecosystems play in regulating the climate system.

Assessments of the effects of climate change on ecosystem services has in part been hindered by the lack of tools capable of forecasting how landscape structure and function might change in response to climate change.

In Alaska, such tools need to consider how ecological processes play out in both space and time. Landscapes may change substantially in time and space because of shifting composition of species dominance (e.g., an increase of shrubs in tundra) and species migration (e.g., treeline advance). These shifts in landscape structure and function may be caused by changes in disturbance regimes (e.g., fire, insects, wind throw), permafrost integrity, and hydrology across the landscape.

In this study, we propose to develop and apply an ecosystem model for Alaska that is capable of forecasting how landscape structure and function might change in response to how climate change influences interactions among disturbance regimes, permafrost integrity, hydrology, vegetation succession, and vegetation migration. This tool would provide scenarios of changes in landscape structure and function that could be used by resource-specific impact models to assess the effects of climate change on specific natural resources.

Collaborators:

UAF/USGS Alaska Climate Science Center

Arctic Landscape Conservation Cooperative

Western Alaska Conservation Cooperative

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

 

Project Funding

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
$735,000.00
1 Sep 2011 – 31 Aug 2012
IAB Project #222


Media Contact

Marie Thoms
Communications/Web Manager
Institute of Arctic Biology
302A Irving I
University of Alaska Fairbanks
Fairbanks, AK 99775-7000
email: methoms@alaska.edu
phone: 907.474.7412
UAF-IAB-News-Info@alaska.edu