Document Type

Multi-Park Study

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The purpose of this document is to describe the intent of climate change research being funded by the National Park Service (NPS) in the Central Grasslands (CEGR) Biogeographic Area (BGA). For the purposes of this document, the CEGR BGA is broadly defined as areas of historical or potential grassland extending from the southern Canadian provinces to northern Mexico and from the foothills of the Rocky Mountains to western Indiana. The majority of NPS units containing prairie within this BGA are short-grass, northern mixed-grass, or tall-grass ecosystems. Increasing levels of atmospheric greenhouse gases (C02, CH4, CFCs, etc.) are expected to induce dramatic changes in the world's climate over the next 30-100 years. General circulation model (GCM) simulations for a doubling of C02 have projected 2-3xC increases in mean global temperatures and major transformations of land surface hydrology. Extensive modification of the land surface due to land use changes (e.g. deforestation, irrigation) are also anticipated to have important effects on atmospheric circulation and climate.