Northern Rocky Mountain Science Center

Bozeman, MT, United States

Northern Rocky Mountain Science Center

Bozeman, MT, United States
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News Article | May 10, 2017

The warming climate has dramatically reduced the size of 39 glaciers in Montana since 1966, some by as much as 85 percent, according to data released by the U.S. Geological Survey and Portland State University. On average, the glaciers have reduced by 39 percent and only 26 glaciers are now larger than 25 acres, which is used as a guideline for deciding if bodies of ice are large enough to be considered glaciers. The data include scientific information for the 37 named glaciers in Glacier National Park and two glaciers on U.S. Forest Service land. The retreat of glaciers is significant in Montana because of the impact shrinking glaciers can have on tourism, as well as being a visual indicator of mountain ecosystem change in the northern Rocky Mountains. "The park-wide loss of ice can have ecological effects on aquatic species by changing stream water volume, water temperature and run-off timing in the higher elevations of the park," said lead USGS scientist Dr. Daniel Fagre. Portland State geologist Andrew G. Fountain partnered with USGS on the project. He said glaciers in mountain ranges throughout the United States and the world have been shrinking for decades. "While the shrinkage in Montana is more severe than some other places in the U.S., it is in line with trends that have been happening on a global scale," Fountain said. Scientists used digital maps from aerial photography and satellites to measure the perimeters of the glaciers in late summer when seasonal snow has melted to reveal the extent of the glacial ice. The areas measured are from 1966, 1998, 2005 and 2015/2016, marking approximately 50 years of change in glacier area. Site visits to glaciers were also made over several years to investigate portions that were covered by rock debris that are difficult to see with digital imagery. The mapped measurements of glaciers complement ground surveys of glaciers using GPS along with repeat photography that involves re-photographing historic photos of glaciers taken early last century when there were an estimated 150 glaciers larger than 25 acres in Glacier National Park. "Tracking these small alpine glaciers has been instrumental in describing climate change effects on Glacier National Park to park management and the public," said Lisa McKeon, USGS scientist who has been documenting glacier change since 1997. This information is part of a larger, ongoing USGS glacier study of glaciers in Montana, Alaska and Washington to document mass balance measurements that estimate whether the total amount of ice is increasing or decreasing at a particular glacier. This information helps scientists understand the impact of large scale climate patterns on glaciers in distinctly different mountain environments. The data for Glacier National Park's named glaciers are available at the USGS ScienceBase website. Additional information about the glacier research can be found at the USGS Northern Rocky Mountain Science Center website and the USGS Benchmark Glacier program website. This project was funded in part by the USGS Climate and Landuse Change Research and Development Program. Glacier National Park has 37 named glaciers and they are one of the reasons people come to Glacier each year. Last year, 2.9 million visitors came to the park. Portland State University, offering opportunity to 27,000 students from all backgrounds, is Oregon's only urban public research university. Our mission to "Let Knowledge Serve the City" reflects our dedication to finding creative, sustainable solutions to local and global problems. Follow us on Twitter: @Portland_State

News Article | May 11, 2017

"Montana's Glacier National Park is quickly losing an important part of its natural beauty: Its glaciers. U.S. Geological Survey data released Wednesday shows the park's 37 glaciers, along with two others on federal Forest Service land, have shrunk an average of about 40% since 1966. In fact, they'll all be gone within our lifetime, warns Daniel Fagre, a research ecologist with the USGS's Northern Rocky Mountain Science Center. In order for the glaciers to survive, the area would need to experience 'significant cooling,' he said. But it's likely too late. "Their fate is sealed," forecasted Farage, who has studied the glaciers since 1991. The trend, he argues, could have an impact on the park and animal life."

Myers B.J.E.,U.S. Geological Survey | Lynch A.J.,U.S. Geological Survey | Bunnell D.B.,Great Lakes Science Center | Chu C.,Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources | And 5 more authors.
Reviews in Fish Biology and Fisheries | Year: 2017

Although climate change is an important factor affecting inland fishes globally, a comprehensive review of how climate change has impacted and will continue to impact inland fishes worldwide does not currently exist. We conducted an extensive, systematic primary literature review to identify English-language, peer-reviewed journal publications with projected and documented examples of climate change impacts on inland fishes globally. Since the mid-1980s, scientists have projected the effects of climate change on inland fishes, and more recently, documentation of climate change impacts on inland fishes has increased. Of the thousands of title and abstracts reviewed, we selected 624 publications for a full text review: 63 of these publications documented an effect of climate change on inland fishes, while 116 publications projected inland fishes’ response to future climate change. Documented and projected impacts of climate change varied, but several trends emerged including differences between documented and projected impacts of climate change on salmonid abundance (P = 0.0002). Salmonid abundance decreased in 89.5% of documented effects compared to 35.7% of projected effects, where variable effects were more commonly reported (64.3%). Studies focused on responses of salmonids (61% of total) to climate change in North America and Europe, highlighting major gaps in the literature for taxonomic groups and geographic focus. Elucidating global patterns and identifying knowledge gaps of climate change effects on inland fishes will help managers better anticipate local changes in fish populations and assemblages, resulting in better development of management plans, particularly in systems with little information on climate change effects on fish. © 2017 Springer International Publishing Switzerland (outside the USA)

Cross P.C.,Northern Rocky Mountain Science Center | Heisey D.M.,National Wildlife Health Center | Ebinger M.R.,Montana State University | Brennan A.,Northern Rocky Mountain Science Center | Brennan A.,Montana State University
PLoS ONE | Year: 2010

The relationship between host density and parasite transmission is central to the effectiveness of many disease management strategies. Few studies, however, have empirically estimated this relationship particularly in large mammals. We applied hierarchical Bayesian methods to a 19-year dataset of over 6400 brucellosis tests of adult female elk (Cervus elaphus) in northwestern Wyoming. Management captures that occurred from January to March were over two times more likely to be seropositive than hunted elk that were killed in September to December, while accounting for site and year effects. Areas with supplemental feeding grounds for elk had higher seroprevalence in 1991 than other regions, but by 2009 many areas distant from the feeding grounds were of comparable seroprevalence. The increases in brucellosis seroprevalence were correlated with elk densities at the elk management unit, or hunt area, scale (mean 2070 km2; range = [95-10237]). The data, however, could not differentiate among linear and non-linear effects of host density. Therefore, control efforts that focus on reducing elk densities at a broad spatial scale were only weakly supported. Additional research on how a few, large groups within a region may be driving disease dynamics is needed for more targeted and effective management interventions. Brucellosis appears to be expanding its range into new regions and elk populations, which is likely to further complicate the United States brucellosis eradication program. This study is an example of how the dynamics of host populations can affect their ability to serve as disease reservoirs.

News Article | November 10, 2016

Even before they received the 2013 Camp Monaco Research Prize, Arthur Middleton, the Yale scientist; Joe Riis, the National Geographic photographer; and James Prosek, the popular contemporary artist have dedicated much of their lives to discovering and sharing migration stories. After hearing the team's pitch about the exhibition "Invisible Boundaries" at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West, filmmaker Jenny Nichols—whose only appearance in the exhibition’s video footage is a passing reflection in Middleton’s sunglasses—was quick to say, “I’m in!” On view nearly simultaneously at National Geographic Museum in Washington, DC, and the Center of the West since spring 2016, Invisible Boundaries has met with high acclaim from audiences. “With our office located so near the exhibition, we’re privy to our visitors' exclamations about the amazing photography, video footage, technology, and interactive components; the whole experience clearly wowed them,” Acting PR Director Marguerite House explains. “It’s sure to have the same effect next year on Yale visitors, too.” Co-curated by Dr. Charles R. Preston, the Center’s natural history curator; Karen McWhorter, curator of western American art; and Middleton, the multi-disciplinary exhibition presents the paths traced by elk migration—nine separate herds in all—within the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE), trails that crisscross the region like a Jackson Pollock abstract painting on canvas. On the move, elk—and other migratory species in the area—weave in and out, back and forth through lands under a variety of separate, public, and private jurisdictions, boundaries that mean nothing to the resident wildlife. Presented every three years, the Camp Monaco Prize is named for a 1913 hunting camp established by William F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody near Yellowstone National Park in honor of the visiting Prince Albert I, the great, great grandfather of His Serene Highness, the Sovereign Prince of Monaco Albert II. The grant focus is GYE biodiversity research and public education, and is funded by the joint efforts of the Center of the West’s Draper Natural History Museum, the University of Wyoming Migration Initiative, and the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation-USA. And now that the first Camp Monaco Prize has effectively launched important research into GYE animal migration, the Center anxiously awaits the outcomes of the second prize awarded earlier this summer in Monaco. HSH Albert II of Monaco was on hand to honor recipients Dr. Craig M. Lee (University of Colorado), Dr. David McWethy (Montana State University), and Dr. Gregory T. Pederson (U.S. Geological Survey’s Northern Rocky Mountain Science Center). Their project examines newly discovered plant, animal, and archaeological remains in retreating ice fields in order to develop a broader perspective and better understanding of environmental change and past human activity in the GYE’s higher elevations. For more information, visit Monaco on the Center's website and monitor for the latest on the arrival of Invisible Boundaries to Yale in 2017. Since 1917, the award-winning Buffalo Bill Center of the West in Cody, Wyoming, has devoted itself to sharing the story of the authentic American West. The Center, an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution, is now in its late fall schedule—open daily 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. through November 30. For additional information, visit the Center's website or its pages on Facebook and Google+.

Wolken J.M.,University of Alaska Fairbanks | Hollingsworth T.N.,Pacific University in Oregon | Rupp T.S.,University of Alaska Fairbanks | Chapin F.S.,University of Alaska Fairbanks | And 18 more authors.
Ecosphere | Year: 2014

The structure and function of Alaska's forests have changed significantly in response to a changing climate, including alterations in species composition and climate feedbacks (e.g., carbon, radiation budgets) that have important regional societal consequences and human feedbacks to forest ecosystems. In this paper we present the first comprehensive synthesis of climate-change impacts on all forested ecosystems of Alaska, highlighting changes in the most critical biophysical factors of each region. We developed a conceptual framework describing climate drivers, biophysical factors and types of change to illustrate how the biophysical and social subsystems of Alaskan forests interact and respond directly and indirectly to a changing climate.We then identify the regional and global implications to the climate system and associated socio-economic impacts, as presented in the current literature. Projections of temperature and precipitation suggest wildfire will continue to be the dominant biophysical factor in the Interior-boreal forest, leading to shifts from conifer- to deciduous-dominated forests. Based on existing research, projected increases in temperature in the Southcentral- and Kenai-boreal forests will likely increase the frequency and severity of insect outbreaks and associated wildfires, and increase the probability of establishment by invasive plant species. In the Coastal-temperate forest region snow and ice is regarded as the dominant biophysical factor. With continued warming, hydrologic changes related to more rapidly melting glaciers and rising elevation of the winter snowline will alter discharge in many rivers, which will have important consequences for terrestrial and marine ecosystem productivity. These climate-related changes will affect plant species distribution and wildlife habitat, which have regional societal consequences, and trace-gas emissions and radiation budgets, which are globally important. Our conceptual framework facilitates assessment of current and future consequences of a changing climate, emphasizes regional differences in biophysical factors, and points to linkages that may exist but that currently lack supporting research. The framework also serves as a visual tool for resource managers and policy makers to develop regional and global management strategies and to inform policies related to climate mitigation and adaptation. © 2011 Wolken et al.

Towler E.,U.S. National Center for Atmospheric Research | Saab V.A.,Rocky Research | Sojda R.S.,Northern Rocky Mountain Science Center | Dickinson K.,U.S. National Center for Atmospheric Research | And 2 more authors.
Environmental Management | Year: 2012

Given the projected threat that climate change poses to biodiversity, the need for proactive response efforts is clear. However, integrating uncertain climate change information into conservation planning is challenging, and more explicit guidance is needed. To this end, this article provides a specific example of how a risk-based approach can be used to incorporate a species' response to climate into conservation decisions. This is shown by taking advantage of species' response (i.e., impact) models that have been developed for a well-studied bird species of conservation concern. Specifically, we examine the current and potential impact of climate on nest survival of the Lewis's Woodpecker (Melanerpes lewis) in two different habitats. To address climate uncertainty, climate scenarios are developed by manipulating historical weather observations to create ensembles (i.e., multiple sequences of daily weather) that reflect historical variability and potential climate change. These ensembles allow for a probabilistic evaluation of the risk posed to Lewis's Woodpecker nest survival and are used in two demographic analyses. First, the relative value of each habitat is compared in terms of nest survival, and second, the likelihood of exceeding a critical population threshold is examined. By embedding the analyses in a risk framework, we show how management choices can be made to be commensurate with a defined level of acceptable risk. The results can be used to inform habitat prioritization and are discussed in the context of an economic framework for evaluating tradeoffs between management alternatives. © The Author(s) 2012.

Gray B.R.,U.S. Geological Survey | Ray A.M.,Northern Rocky Mountain Science Center | Rogala J.T.,U.S. Geological Survey | Holland M.D.,University of Minnesota | Houser J.N.,U.S. Geological Survey
Journal of Aquatic Plant Management | Year: 2012

This study examined how free-floating macrophyte cover (principally composed of duckweeds [Lemna spp.]) and prevalence of floating filamentous algal mats (metaphyton) varied within and among lakes within three reaches of the Upper Mississippi River. Data were collected using standard sampling approaches over the period 1998 to 2008. Duckweed cover varied primarily within and among lakes; in comparison filamentous algae prevalence varied primarily among lakes and lake-years. Duckweed cover increased with submersed aquatic vegetation (SAV) abundance at within-lake and among-lake-year scales; in comparison, filamentous algae prevalence increased with SAV abundance at within-lake, among-lake and year scales. Given adjustment for SAV, filamentous algae prevalence decreased with increasing lake connectivity but was not statistically associated with annual changes in mean river discharge; duckweed cover was not associated with either connectivity or discharge. Documenting the relatively high levels of variation within lakes and of year-to-year variation in lake means improves our understanding of the dynamic nature of aquatic plant and algal communities in the Upper Mississippi River and will assist efforts to manage or control aquatic plants and nuisance algae in this region. In particular, this work explicitly characterizes sources of variability in free-floating macrophyte cover and filamentous algae prevalence, and highlights how this variation may complicate efforts to evaluate the short-term success of management and control efforts.

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