Landscape Climate Change Vulnerability Project

At high elevations in the Yellowstone Ecosystem, large stands of whitebark pine are being decimated by blister rust and mountain pine beetle. A rapidly changing climate appears to be strongly exacerbating the impacts of the rust and beetles. Photo courtesy of Mary McFadzen

Supported by the NASA Applied Sciences Program, National Park Service Inventory and Monitoring Program, and Great Northern Landscape Conservation Cooperative, the Landscape Climate Change Vulnerability Project (LCC VP) will develop and apply decision support tools that use NASA and other data and models to assess vulnerability of ecosystems and species to climate and land use change and evaluate management options.

Over four years, August 2011–July 2015, the LCC VP will:

  1. Quantify trends in ecological processes, ecosystem types, and dominant tree species from past to present, and under projected future climate and land use scenarios using NASA and other data and models across two Landscape Conservation Cooperatives (LCCs)
  2. Assess the vulnerability of ecosystem types and dominant tree species to climate and land use change by quantifying exposure, sensitivity, adaptive capacity, and uncertainty in and around focal national parks within LCCs
  3. Evaluate management options for the more vulnerable ecosystem types and tree species within these focal parks
  4. Design multi-scale management approaches for vulnerable ecosystem types and tree species to illustrate adaptation strategies under climate and land use change
  5. Facilitate transfer of data, methods, and models to federal agencies to facilitate broad application of the decision support tools.

Study Areas

The project will focus on the Rocky Mountains ecoregion of the Great Northern Landscape Conservation Cooperative (GNLCC) and the mountainous portion of the Appalachian LCC (ALCC). In addition to the LCCs, the project will focus on two additional and highly relevant spatial scales: (1) potential dispersal zones, which are larger than LCCs and designed to capture the geographic range of expected biological movements under future climates, and (2) National Parks and surrounding protected area centered ecosystems (PACEs; Hansen et al. 2011), which will provide effective case studies for vulnerability assessment and management applications. These parks include Glacier, Yellowstone, and Rocky Mountain National Parks in the GNLCC and Delaware Water Gap NRA and Shenandoah and Great Smoky Mountains National Parks in the ALCC.






Project Partners

Science Team
  • Andrew J. Hansen, Montana State University
  • Scott Goetz, Woods Hole Research Center
  • Forrest Melton, California State University, Monterey Bay / NASA Ames Research Center
  • Bill Monahan, National Park Service Inventory and Monitoring Program
  • Ramakrishna Nemani, NASA Ames Research Center
  • Tom Olliff, Great Northern Landscape Conservation Cooperative
  • David Theobald, Colorado State University
  • John Gross, National Park Service Inventory and Monitoring Program
Collaborators
  • Mike Britten, NPS I&M Rocky Mountain Network
  • Jim Comiskey, NPS I&M Mid-Atlantic Network
  • Keith Langdon, Great Smoky Mountain National Park I&M Coordinator
  • Matt Marshall, NPS I&M Eastern Rivers and Mountains Network
  • Jim Schaberl, Shenandoah National Park