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Climate change may shift northern landscape


The joint final report from the Alaska Cliomes Project and the Canada Cliomes Project is now available for public download.

The report offers the public, including land managers, government agencies, communities, businesses, academics and nonprofits, new perspectives on how climate change affects northern ecosystems.

The projects used historical weather data to divide the landscape into areas of similar climate. Each of these areas — or cliomes — is described based on the characteristic pattern of vegetation and wildlife species that thrive under those particular climate conditions. The project then used climate models to project how ongoing climate change may cause the landscape to shift in coming decades.

Project results suggest some major shifts in these cliomes and the ecosystems associated with them. Climate patterns currently found in Interior and arctic Alaska, the Yukon and the Northwest Territories are expected to shift northward. By 2069, models suggest that some Canadian cliomes are likely to move into Alaska from the east. Climate patterns and associated species that are now normal in the southern prairie provinces of Canada may become common across the Far North.

Ecosystem change depends on not only climate change, but also the movement of seeds, the formation of new soil types and other major landscape changes. While project results represent possible rather than actual changes, large-scale landscape change is likely by the end of the century said Nancy Fresco, UAF Scenarios for Alaska and Arctic Planning coordinator, “This effort is intended to provide a range of descriptions of possible futures, in order to help people plan for change and adapt to it. Our hope is that this report will trigger new research, discussion and collaboration, and will help define new areas for ecosystem monitoring and adaptation efforts.”

The projects were funded by the Arctic Landscape Conservation Cooperative, The Nature Conservancy’s Canada Project, Ducks Unlimited Canada, Government Canada and Government Northwest Territories. Research and modeling were done by scientists from the UAF Scenarios Network for Alaska and Arctic Planning program, the Institute of Arctic Biology’s EWHALE lab, the Arctic LCC, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and TNC.

ON THE WEB: from http://www.snap.uaf.edu/project_page.php?projectid=8.

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