Title

Climate Change Effects on Prairie Pothole Wetlands: Findings from a Twenty-five Year Numerical Modeling Project

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2016

Abstract

This paper reviews the findings of a 25-year project (1990–2015) that has examined the potential effects of climate change on the vegetation structure, hydrologic function, and biodiversity of wetlands in the Prairie Pothole Region (PPR) of North America. The numerical modeling component of the project developed in phases, beginning with the building of a single basin model (WETSIM), followed by a multiple-basin model (WETLANDSCAPE-WLS), and ending with applications of a comprehensive WLS model to specific wetland issues: ecological thresholds and early detection of effects. Coincident with model development was the establishment of a long-term wetland monitoring field site (Orchid Meadows) that includes 18 years of continuous surface and groundwater data on a wetland complex. Also during the project, an intensive study of the historic climate of the PPR was conducted. Model simulations support the following conclusions: prairie wetlands are highly sensitive to climate change; a warmer climate without more precipitation will shrink the effective wetland area of the PPR and reduce waterfowl habitat; strong climatic gradients across the PPR, especially the strong east to west decline in precipitation, complicate the response of PPR wetlands to climate change and approaches to mitigation.

Publication Title

Wetlands

Volume

36

Issue

Supplement 2

First Page

273

Last Page

285

DOI of Published Version

10.1007/s13157-016-0790-3

Publisher

Springer