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We have developed an approach which examines ecosystem function and the potential effects of climatic shifts. The Lake McDonald watershed of Glacier National Park was the focus for two linked research activities: acquisition of baseline data on hydrologic, chemical and aquatic organism attributes that characterize this pristine northern rocky mountain watershed, and further developing the Regional Hydro-Ecosystem Simulation System (RHESSys), a collection of integrated models which collectively provide spatially explicit, mechanistically-derived outputs of ecosystem processes, including hydrologic outflow, soil moisture, and snowpack water equivalence. In this unique setting field validation of RHESSys, outputs demonstrated that reasonable estimates of SWE and streamflow are being produced. RHESSys was used to predict annual stream discharge and temperature. The predictions, in conjunction with the field data, indicated that aquatic resources of the park may be significantly affected. Utilizing RHESSys to predict potential climate scenarios and response of other key ecosystem components can provide scientific insights as well as proactive guidelines for national park management.
Additional Publication Details
Watershed responses to climate change at Glacier National Park
Journal of the American Water Resources Association