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Frijolito Watershed: Integrated Investigations of a Rapidly Eroding Pinyon-Juniper Hillslope

Description: The dramatic acceleration of erosion associated with the expansion of pinyon-juniper woodlands over the past 100 years has been widely recognized, but few process-based studies of this phenomenon have been undertaken. In an attempt to identify the underlying causes, and the factors that affect erosion processes, we have initiated an interdisciplinary study of a rapidly eroding pinyon-juniper woodland in northern New Mexico. Since July 1993, we have collected data on runoff, erosion, and weather conditions from a 1-ha catchment study area and have conducted surveys of topography, soils, and vegetation. Our preliminary results indicate that although runoff makes up less than 10% of the annual water budget, runoff events - which are frequent in the summer - are capable of moving large amounts of sediment. We estimate that between July 1993 and October 1994, between 25,000 and 50,000 kg of sediment has eroded and been transported from the catchment. The information gained from such studies is essential to our ability to formulate effective strategies for managing these rapidly eroding woodlands.
Date: Autumn 1994
Creator: Wilcox, Bradford P.; Pitlick, John & Allen, Craig D.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Thresholds of Climate Change in Ecosystems

Description: This Report (SAP 4.2) focuses on the thresholds of Climate Change in Ecosystems. As defined in this Synthesis and Assessment Report, 'an ecological threshold is the point at which there is an abrupt change in an ecosystem quality, property, or phenomenon, or where small changes in one or more external conditions produce large and persistent responses in an ecosystem'.Ecological thresholds occur when external factors, positive feedbacks, or nonlinear instabilities in a system cause changes to propagate in a domino-like fashion that is potentially irreversible. This report reviews threshold changes in North American ecosystems that are potentially induced by climatic change and addresses the significant challenges these threshold crossings impose on resource and land managers. Sudden changes to ecosystems and the goods and services they provide are not well understood, but they are extremely important if natural resource managers are to succeed in developing adaptation strategies in a changing world. The report provides an overview of what is known about ecological thresholds and where they are likely to occur. It also identifies those areas where research is most needed to improve knowledge and understand the uncertainties regarding them. The report suggests a suite of potential actions that land and resource managers could use to improve the likelihood of success for the resources they manage, even under conditions of incomplete understanding of what drives thresholds of change and when changes will occur.
Date: January 2009
Creator: U.S. Climate Change Science Program and the Subcommittee on Global Change Research
Partner: UNT Libraries