National Park Service

Upper Columbia Basin Network (UCBN)

Climate Change Monitoring

The Pika's thick fur requires cool microclimates
The Pika's thick fur requires cool microclimates

Climate Change Briefs

The Climate Analyzer: User friendly custom graphs and tables.

For more information contact: Gordon Dicus

Parks Monitored

Video: Climate Change and High Elevation Parks


Importance / Issues

Changes in global climate patterns are threatening ecosystems worldwide. In the Upper Columbia Basin region we are observing significant impacts affecting natural resources present in parks and also making it difficult to help maintain and preserve cultural sites. Increase in temperature may be leading to reduced snowpack, earlier snowmelt, faster evaporation and reduced summer streaflow. Short winters and longer growing seasons have intensified outbreaks of mountain pine beetle, causing lodgepole pine mortality in Big Hole National Battlefield. White pine blister rust and mistletoe infections are affecting limber pines in the Northern Rocky Mountains, including drought-stressed trees at Craters of the Moon National Monument. Wildfires have become more frequent and have a higher intensity. Recent fires in Hagerman and John Day Fossil Beds National Monuments have had a tremendous impact on the iconic sagebrush steppe vegetation and have helped the spread of invasive plants. Species such as cheatgrass (Bromus tectorum) have wide temperature tolerance and resilient means of dispersal that help them adapt to changing conditions and out-compete native plants. This is causing the reduction of suitable habitat for a variety of wildlife species dependent on native sagebrush and other bunchgrasses.

Monitoring Objectives

The Upper Columbia Basin Network is monitoring vital signs in Intermountain West parks to better describe the composition and structure of communities, better understand park systems, identify and monitor the effects of climate change in parks, and interpret future trends. Data and information gathered from monitoring activities are helping inform how climate change is affecting the resources in parks in the region, and will provide relevant scientific information that will assist management decisions.

In National park units, we can monitor and document ecosystem change without many of the stressors that are found on other public lands. The Upper Columbia Basin Network is committed to tracking changes in park natural resources that may be influenced or caused by accelerated climate change, and all of our monitoring activities will contribute toward fulfilling this commitment.

Video: Pikas Living on the Edge: Monitoring a Species Facing a Changing Climate


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Last Updated: April 05, 2017 Contact Webmaster