A mathematical model (WETSIM 2.0) was used to simulate wetland hydrology and vegetation dynamics over a 32-yr period (1961-1992) in a North Dakota prairie wetland. A hydrology component of the model calculated changes in water storage based on precipitation, evapotranspiration, snowpack, surface runoff, and subsurface inflow. A spatially explicit vegetation component in the model calculated changes in distribution of vegetative cover and open water, depending on water depth, seasonality, and existing type of vegetation. The model reproduced four known dry periods and one extremely wet period during the three decades. One simulated dry period in the early 1980s did not actually occur. Simulated water levels compared favorably with continuous observed water levels outside the calibration period (1990-1992). Changes in vegetative cover were realistic except for years when simulated water levels were significantly different than actual levels. These generally positive results support the use of the model for exploring the effects of possible climate changes on wetland resources.
Additional publication details
Climate change and northern prairie wetlands: Simulations of long-term dynamics