Wednesday, April 08, 2009

'Place-based' climate change science needed in national parks

Thomas Swetnam, director of the Laboratory for Tree-Ring Research at the UA, told a U.S. House Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands that scientists should expand the use of what he called "place-based" science models to understand how climate change may impact ecosystems and watersheds.

Place-based science involves locating scientists within national parks for long-terms, working at a specific locale to develop the kind of deep-rooted knowledge that allows them to become familiar with the natural rhythms and history of a region.

He said that currently, only a few dozen scientists are located in field stations in the western United States, and fewer in the east.

Swetnam said "Much of what we have learned about he effects of past and recent climate variations and change on ecosystems has come from studies conducted within the national parks and national forests. In the future, we need to continue and expand monitoring of climate and ecosystems within parks because these places offer some of the best landscapes to study climate-driven changes with the least amount of human land-use effects.

"The rationale for the parks was, and is, that these are the places we care the most about in terms of protecting and preserving these wonders, now and in the future," he said.

[this post is taken in part from a UA news release by Jeff Harrison]

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